Jazz has been an important element of hip-hop since the heyday of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.
But the power of the combination of the two genres has been getting renewed attention in recent years thanks to artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington.
Yet that didn’t stop some professors at Toronto’s Humber College from criticizing the members of jazz group BadBadNotGood as they began performing hip-hop covers while studying music there.
The group got more positive attention from Tyler the Creator, who tweeted about a cover of one of his songs that was posted to YouTube. The buzz built from there, leading to work with Frank Ocean and Ghostface Killah, among others. BadBadNotGood’s latest album, “IV,” includes collaborations with DJ Kaytranada, rapper Mick Jenkins and indie rocker Sam Herring of Future Islands.
amNewYork talked with bassist Chester Hansen.
What was your vision for BadBadNotGood when you began in 2011?
Honestly, we didn’t really have one. We literally met and shortly after that started jamming together while still in school. We had zero thought put into anything. We were just having fun. As things started to happen, we started to take it more seriously.
Where did you get the idea to record jazz interpretations of hip-hop songs?
We all were in jazz school so that was the way we were approaching music, by learning jazz standards or using the jazz approach to learning different music. We wanted to apply that to the music we were really into at the time, which was hip-hop.
Why do you think the two have been coming together more recently?
I think just in general the lines between all genres are blending now because we’re at the stage where people have had the internet for 15-20 years. All of us and our peers have grown up being able to access almost anything they want, whether that’s music or movies. It’s created a cool blend of everything.
How did the collaborations on “IV” come about?
They’re all just people we encountered over the past year and half or two. [Saxophonist] Colin Stetson was really the only one we cold called out of the blue. Kaytranada is someone we worked with 30 or 40 times. Charlotte [Day Wilson] is an old friend of ours. Sam [Herring] is someone that we did a remix with for Future Islands a couple of years ago.
Are there any dream collaborators you’re hoping to get on your next album?
We’re open to whoever comes along. After being in the business for a few years, you realize you have to make the most of what comes at you. If you end up cold calling a bunch of people, sometimes it doesn’t work out. … It’s good to work with people you have some connection with.