In the 21st Century, jazz is typically seen as music for old people. Let’s be honest. Look at the big names in jazz history. The most recently-prominent jazz icon is probably Herbie Hancock. He owns 2 of the top 5 best-selling jazz albums of all time, but those were released in 1973 and 1983, respectively. Artists like Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis made timeless music that still connects with people today, but it’s not quite the same as new artists releasing new music to a new generation. The classic jazz artists will always be there, but I don’t think they’re picking up hordes of new fans in the 18–25 demographic.
As jazz in popular music began to fade, the up-and-coming genre of hip-hop derived influence from these musicians. Kids weren’t listening to much jazz anymore, but they were getting their fill through jazz loops and samples on songs by A Tribe Called Quest. Since hip-hop’s beginning, it’s always had this relationship with jazz; paying homage to the genre that helped to inspire it. Until now, jazz has never returned the favor.
Insert BADBADNOTGOOD. In a fitting 21st century twist, the genre created by African-Americans is being brought back to the current generation by three white kids from Canada. Instead of the usual jazz influence in hip-hop, they’re giving us hip-hop influence in jazz. Welcome to the future.
While they’ve largely shifted to original material in their most recent projects, BBNG first rose to internet prominence in 2011 for their hip-hop cover songs. Where else are you going to hear a jazz rendition of Nas’ “The World Is Yours”? Given the relationship between the two genres, the convergence seems so natural, and it’s probably the reason BBNG is not only the “next big thing” in jazz, but also one of the biggest young bands in music. They’ve made the genre cool again. They’re selling out shows, and they have kids literally moshing. To jazz music. In 2014.
Their 3rd studio album, aptly titled “III”, hits the internet on May 6th. Until then watch their latest music video, “Can’t Leave The Night”.
Originally published at fromloveland.com, April 8 2014.