Jazz/Hip-hop Hybridities and the Recording Studio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Since the first jazz/hip-hop collaborations in the early 1980s (Max Roach w/Fab 5 Freddy, Herbie Hancock w/Grandmixer D.ST), and the flowering of the so-called ‘jazz rap’ subgenre in the early 1990s (A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Guru’s Jazzmatazz), a new generation of young jazz musicians have responded to this unique marriage of African-based genres. My paper engages with two twenty-first century jazz musicians who attempt to merge jazz and hip-hop styles in strikingly divergent ways: U.S. trumpeter Russell Gunn and U.K. saxophonist Soweto Kinch, two contemporary artists that fuse hip-hop and jazz but contrast in terms of recording studio practices, marketing/promotion, and their intra- and extra-musical discourses on genre. For example, Russell Gunn adopts a style of jazz that incorporates hip-hop, dance music, and overtly celebrates the recording studio as musical instrument. The use of trumpet and rap vocal effects demonstrates what I call ‘studio consciousness’, aspects of a recording which draw attention to its studio source rather than stage an illusion of ‘liveness’. Kinch, in contrast, arguably does stage a form of ‘liveness’ on his first album Conversations with the Unseen (2003), whether the individual tracks reflect jazz or hip-hop. Using this particular comparative case study, I propose that an investigation of studio techniques may be an additional way to categorize and analyse genre and its fusions in popular music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalJournal of the Art of Record Production
VolumeJuly, 2011
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Black Humanities


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