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What You ‘Spect?

{hands in late pass}

Well, I didn’t watch the Grammys. Well, I saw Amy sing and Herbie win and I turned that shit all the way down when Josh Groban hit stage. I hardly ever watch the Grammys, plus, this past Sunday was a great day for NBA Basketball, four games! So yeah, my time was occupied.

That being said, I noticed alot of voices in the Hip Hop Community (i.e. blog comments) stressing that they felt Kanye got robbed for album of the year. I mean, there isn’t too much I can say about all of that since I myself haven’t listened to the Herbie Hancock record. But I will say this, if Kanye would have won, ok, cool, good for him, good for “hip hop” I guess. I mean, nothing says “hey man, your album is dope!” better than acceptance from a gang of folks who probably don’t even like yo’ ass and just started recognizing “rap” music as an artform worthy of recognition just 12 years ago. But, I’m not gonna be crying foul over the fact that the academy chose to reward a dude that has been doing what Kanye aspires do for longer than Mr. West was born. Plus in my eyes, “Hip Hop” still won that night. Jazz was one of the things that begat this Bronx-born monster and Herbie made a audio contribution to B-Boys all over the world that will never be forgotten. Plus, a jazz album hasn’t won Album of the Year since 1964. I mean, jazz surely isn’t what it used to be, but damn, that’s long ass time. Jazz was the original rebel music and it looks like they were the ones getting treated like outsiders still.

Anyways, all of that was supposed to be a segue into talking about this group that I feel is doing something exceptional, Jaspects. Its a jazz group made up of 6 brothas who are all under the age of 25. They describe themselves as “students of jazz and children of Hip Hop.” When I first heard of these dudes a couple years ago, I didn’t believe it. Six young black males in a group, all of them playing instruments? Playing HARD JAZZ? And playing well? Honestly, I thought brothas had put the instruments down. Especially with the government and education system doing little to nothing to keep music in the schools. I’m glad these kids managed to slip through the cracks and do something different.

I’d always heard about how dope their live shows were, but I could never seem to catch them. I’d either be walking in when they were playing their last number or not making it to the show altogether. Well, I finally caught them in the act late last year and was blown away by what I saw.

The dudes play, rap, sing and dance. A friend of mines looked at me crazy when I “had the audacity” to favorably compare them to the Roots. And I’m sure you probably are too…but hear me out.

While, I’m not gonna sit here and say that any of these dudes can actually see Black Thought on the mic, I am impressed by the fact that 3 or 4 of these cats actually hops on the mic. I’m not hating or dissing, but I’ve never seen Kamal or Hub hop on the mic, even just for the hell of it.

I also liked that while they do come with the whole “students of Jazz, children of Hip Hop” angle, they don’t over do it to the point that it sounds forced and corny. They do it to where it sounds natural like Guru’s first couple of Jazzmatazz albums or the two Buckshot LeFonque joints Branford Marsalis put out. Every song offers something different, and doesn’t rely on the actual act/art of rapping.

Another reason I can say these cats can fuck with the Roots [in the near future] is because they have horns. That’s the one thing the Roots lacked on their albums, consistent horn play. With Jaspects, you have a trumpeter and two saxophonists.

Granted, they haven’t backed Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige…but I have seen them back some local artists like Proton and Janelle Monae to name a couple. And it was equally dope.

I’m glad to see groups like this doing their thing, because for some odd reason…too many folks are thinking that Hip Hop can only be embodied through rap music and that the simple fact that you rap makes you Hip Hop. If you ever get a chance to see these cats live, please do. Its a Hip Hop show through and through. The same way Jay tells you to throw your diamonds up, Jaspects tells you to throw your “J’s” up. They rock the Braves and Yankee’s fitteds just like the Tip’s and 50’s of the world. You’ll even get treated to some Black Sheep, Pete Rock/CL Smooth and Funkadelic renditions if you stay long enough. And yes fellas, Jaspects shows bring the ladies out in full force. Trust, getting numbers with a sax in the background is sooooo much easier than trying to holla with random “bitches, hoes, fuck, shit, pimp, purp” references being thrown at ya…

As usual, I’m gonna post up songs from their latest album, Double Consciousness. Its been out for a good little bit, but I’m sure these tracks are falling on a lot fresh ears. If you fuckin’ with it, hit them up at their myspace page.

“Hip Hop & Jazz Don’t Mix?”

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“Be-Hop”

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“Chitlins & Chalupas”

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“You Got Me Funked Up” ft. Tony Towerz

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“A Night In Tunisia”

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“One Last Cry Before I Say…”

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“Goodbye Love” ft. Fonzworth Bentley

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“Shawty Dead Wrong” ft. Scar

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