Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing
January 20, 2021 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me find more jazz/hip-hop fusion-ish songs to play in the waiting/downtime before zoom meetings?

I host an academic seminar, and people often trickle in and chat before the official start time. But the silent moments can feel awkward. Last week I got some positive feedback for playing a few songs in the background that felt thematically similar to each other:

Doo Uap - Gabin
Cantaloop - Us3
Back it Up - Caro Emerald

Obviously they draw on jazz, but have a more hip-hop funkier vibe. (There HAS to be a search term for this). To go slightly broader, will possibly be adding Gritty Shaker from David Holmes, or Organ Donor from DJ shadow. What else would you put on this playlist? It's a an informal setting, but still tied to an academic event (with faculty and students attending), so no expletives or raunchy/edgy lyrics. Wholly instrumental works fine (but definitely needs a beat). I'm going for more of a cool/funky vibe than something trance-y or Buddha Bar.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
There HAS to be a search term for this

Electro swing would be one
posted by thelonius at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Digable Planets would fit right in. Their big hit was "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" but their catalog is pretty solid through and through (you'll have to vet lyrics for the occasional pot reference if that would be an issue).
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:53 AM on January 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Pre-hip-hop since it was recorded in 1962, but a favourite of mine is Grant Green's Feelin' the Spirit, which has just six tracks on it that really feel "of a piece" and has a nice, upbeat vibe to it (Herbie Hancock is on piano). And it's all instrumental.

I recommend it a lot because it's a seriously good album but at the same time works great as positive-vibes background music.

Here's the first track: Just A Closer Walk With Thee.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:54 AM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think you want chill-hop. Chillhop essentials streams on YouTube and also has seasonal collections. Cute cozy animations too.

Nujabes is sort of a godfather of the genre, making great instrumental jazz/hip-hop fusion.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:03 AM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you can find anything from the 90s CD series Soul Cargo: The Early Years of Groove and Popcorn Music that would probably be good - and also, deep cuts!. Big Noise is a good example. The track listings are online.

Also My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style is a lot of fun.

Back in happier days of going dancing, Libella Swing was a popular thing to throw on.
posted by Frowner at 10:06 AM on January 20, 2021

Perhaps a bit more chill than what you are looking for, but: Fkj & Masego - Tadow
posted by sacrifix at 10:11 AM on January 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Guru - Jazzmatazz
posted by trbrts at 11:38 AM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

No no no electro swing is not what you want, to be clear.

Nujabes (RIP) is one of the originators of the acid jazz and chill jazz instrumental hip hop genre. The entire movement, including the very famous "lofi hip hop" livestream, is pretty much out of tribute to him and J Dilla, who is also an originator and innovator. If you have a Spotify or YouTube account, both of their albums and songs are very popular and easily found. I am in class but I will link in a bit.
posted by yueliang at 11:49 AM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I can't listen to all of these right now, but just wanted to thank you all for the responses, and for the excitement at having such a fun range of music to explore tonight.

(And dear god, how how had I completely forgetten about Digable Planets?!?!)
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2021

Best answer: Youtube:
Nujabes - luv (sic.) pt 3 [ft.shing02]
Nujabes - Feather
Nujabes - Aruarian Dance
J Dilla - Sunbeams (Extended)

Spotify Playlists:
Rest in Beats - Tribute to Nujabes and J Dilla (Chillhop Beats)
This is Nujabes
This is J Dilla

(I will warn you, your cred may shoot up enormously music-wise if you play either of them haha.)

Also as a note -- electro swing isn't so off your initial recommendations, but I'm leaning into the other direction of jazz and hip hop.
posted by yueliang at 12:03 PM on January 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

So like electro swing /does/ match your initial recommendations -- but the actual intersection of jazz and hip hop is wider than just the electro swing sound. Electro swing is very much big band brass + synths, and not very much hip hop, but the songs you list seem to be a little bit more relaxed and 'chill' but that does not necessarily mean hip hop, so it's a bit different.

The songs I'm recommending are quite literally chill hip hop jazz instrumentals, to be really clear, I just don't want to confuse you with what I am suggesting!

And to cap off what I'm talking about, here's the Samurai Champloo anime opening which features another one of Nujabes's songs, that explains more clearly what the music is that I'm sharing. Also one of the most stunning intro sequences I've ever seen.
posted by yueliang at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Acid Jazz for sure. There are a billion compilations from 1992-1995 or so.

You could also check out some CTI Records stuff.
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Try Mr Scruff, starting with Music Takes Me Up because the video is such a joy.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some of MF DOOM's instrumental stuff might work. Coffin Nails, for instance.
posted by saladin at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

More in line with "Organ Donor" than your other suggestions, but some of Rjd2's album Deadringer scratches this same itch for me somehow. Also maybe some Moby?

It's been a while since I've listened to Deadringer (fixing that now), but iirc at least one of the songs with rapping is nsfw.
posted by papayaninja at 3:36 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tribute to the guy who created Biden's inaugural playlist:

D-Nice - Call Me D-Nice (instrumental)

Vibes and stuff:

Nas - One Love (instrumental)

This guy's made, like, three albums along these lines:

Pete Rock - Pete's Jazz
posted by box at 3:40 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

MF Doom's Special Herbs (more herbs | some more herbs) include some lovely beats, which work well as background or interstitial soundtrack material.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:56 PM on January 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a playlist I've called "Hip Hop Jazz" of things I've collected over the years and hopefully some of this will fit the bill:

Dilated Peoples - Pay Attention
All Natural - Renaissance
Camp Lo - Sparkle
Common - Maintaining
Gang Starr - Jazz Music
Arrested Development - Ease My Mind (DJ Premier Remix)
Mood - Hustle on the Side
Madchild - Like a Tech
Maestro Fresh Wes - On the Jazz Tip
Biggie and Lil Wayne - If You See Me
Linqua Franqa - Up Close

Some of those contain language that may not be suitable for academic seminars ofc.

Going off on a tangent you might also like the album Mala in Cuba.
posted by fabius at 5:59 AM on January 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: fabius - are you magic? I love what little I know of Cuban music, and Mala in Cuba is not what I was looking for here, but is generally perfect. Thank so much!
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 9:16 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Jazzy instrumental hip-hop" is, like, a whole thing.

DJ Spinna – 1996 Beat Tape (also check out '97 Beat Tape and '98 Beat Tape)
Emapea – Seeds, Roots & Fruits
Emapea – Zoning Out
Devaloop – 1214 (Instrumentals)

Just follow the recommended videos on YouTube, or find the artists on Spotify and click on the "Fans Also Like" tab. Some of this might be a little too downtempo for your purposes, though.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:26 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Side note about unsuitable language: because of DJing, it is extremely common in hip-hop music for instrumental versions of things to be released.

Sometimes it's on a b-side to a 12" single, sometimes it's a companion release, sometimes it just... gets out there somehow. If there's a song that you'd like to use, but the lyrics are a concern, see if you can find the instrumental.
posted by box at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick note since this thread seemed to generate some interest - still following all the great recommendations, but also found this fun remix of Take Five that you all might enjoy!
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

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