Melodic(?) hiphop recommendations
August 9, 2007 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Help me find melodic(?) hip hop.

I've recently discovered a sub-genre of hiphop that I describe as "melodic hip hop". Along the lines of the Opening to Boondocks by Asheru & Madvillain - All Caps. It's the use of horns and piano on top of a good beat really does it for me. Is this a specific genre within hiphop that I can pursue further or do you have recommendations for further listening? Should I look for more stuff by Asheru and Madvillain? Recommendations for artists, specific songs, albums, that sort of thing. Yes, I'm a complete novice in the genre but am willing to learn. I have looked at this question already. Some stuff there that piques my interest, but the criteria is different to mine.

As an aside, I also like Aesop Rock and Saul Williams (especially Evil Nine from the former and Black Stacey/List of Demands by the latter). And triphop along the lines of Massive Attack and DJ Shadow. But none of these artists are really what I'm looking for now. Right?

Many thanks!
posted by slimepuppy to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Try k-os, especially his album Joyful Rebellion.
posted by Anonymous at 6:20 AM on August 9, 2007

I'm no hip-hop expert by a long shot, but Sacrifice by Jedi Mind Tricks fits the bill and is very awesome.
posted by AV at 6:28 AM on August 9, 2007

I don't know if it counts as hip-hop - what is hip-hop these days? - but you might like Honeycut's The Day I Turned to Glass.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on August 9, 2007

I'd recommend checking out Youngblood Brass Band, who despite being a brass band, are very hip hop influenced. Possibly more rock and jazz influenced than what you're after.
Probably more simply hiphop, but along the lines of the more melodic stuff, Jesse Dangerously and Backburner (appears to be a free download) - What have you done for rap lately?
Aesop Rock might be worth a look if you don't know him, as Jurassic 5, who do a lot of quite harmonic stuff with their voices.
posted by opsin at 6:35 AM on August 9, 2007

Try Quannum. I've seen it labeled as Quannum MCs, Quannum Projects and just Quannum. Here's their song Lyrics Born. Wiki says they're a hip hop collective. I have no idea what that means, but I like their music.
posted by spec80 at 6:36 AM on August 9, 2007

Sorry, Lyrics Born is the artist. The song is "I Changed My Mind."
posted by spec80 at 6:37 AM on August 9, 2007

A bit genre-twisting, but I'm hooked on this US3 song.
posted by vers at 6:40 AM on August 9, 2007

Sorry, completely missed the mention of Aesop Rock. One of those days...
posted by opsin at 6:46 AM on August 9, 2007

There are a few great RJD2 tracks that fit your examples. Try out "Final Frontier." Also, for another cartoon connection, check out Danger Doom's "Space Hos."
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:46 AM on August 9, 2007

seconding ko-os
posted by radsqd at 6:56 AM on August 9, 2007

Not sure if it's what you're going for, but Arrested Development, De La Soul, and PM Dawn are some mainstream bands that are more melodic than most mainstream hip hop. DeLa, for one, is too good to pass up just because they are/were popular, so be sure not to limit yourself to indies.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by infinityjinx at 7:00 AM on August 9, 2007

Pharcyde's Otha Fish fits the bill really well, as well as likely to put a lump in your throat.

Listen. Now.
posted by sourwookie at 7:06 AM on August 9, 2007

Opsin: How did you come across Jesse Dangerously? You're the first person I've encountered outside of Canada that's heard of him.

We used to correspond on a Lore Fitzgerald Sjoberg fan board years ago. Weerie.

So, yeah, seconding the Jesse Dangerously.
posted by sourwookie at 7:10 AM on August 9, 2007

Plenty of hip-hop producers are known for their use of horns--DJ Premier and Pete Rock are among the most widely-respected ones.
posted by box at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2007

posted by The Straightener at 7:18 AM on August 9, 2007

Sourwookie: My bro found his podcast somehow, as we both trawl around searching for music from all round the world. He grabbed How To Express Your Dissenting Political Viewpoint Through Origami, and hearing Damaged Senses just cemented the opinion.
I mean, hiphop with Elizabethan riffs? Hells yea!
posted by opsin at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2007

on the soundtrack for Samurai Champloo, Fat Jon and Force of Nature do a lot of that kind of stuff. Alot of it is background music for the show, and doesn't have much voice over it though.

I don't really know, but I am interested because I too would like to find more hip hop like this.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:23 AM on August 9, 2007

Check out De La Soul's "Buhloone Mindstate", Common Sense's "Resurrection", and the Pharcyde "Bizarre Ride II".

If you like DJ Shadow, check out his crew: Blackalicious and Latyrx (Lateef and Lyrics Born each have solo stuff out too) are some of the most talented artists out there.

nth'ing dj premier, pete rock and RJD2 (and soul position).

I envy you the road you're starting on.

p.s. almost doesn't need to be said, but you could try using
posted by AceRock at 7:32 AM on August 9, 2007

Jurassic 5, Quality Control.
The Roots,
De La Soul:
Some good stuff off the Judgement Night soundtrack:
But there's a ton of bad stuff on there too.
posted by zackola at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2007

You might find what you're looking for on Victor Vaughn's first album (Vaudeville Villain), especially "Saliva" (produced by RJD2).

Victor Vaughn is another name of MF Doom's (or vice versa), who is one half of Madvillain, so you may have found these already.

(Also, and I'm sure you've heard this already, DJ Dangermouse's Gray Album (Jay Z + The Beatles) fits your criteria pretty perfectly.)
posted by nobody at 8:34 AM on August 9, 2007

Oh, The Fugees, of course. And Lauryn Hill.
posted by nobody at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2007

K-os for sure, The Roots, Jurassic 5, The Pharcyde - mmmm, good ole' Hip-Hop.
posted by heartquake at 9:19 AM on August 9, 2007

Thank you so much for asking this question! I'm getting some great recommendations. I've been meaning to ask something similar ever since I fell in love with Flypaper by K-os.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:02 AM on August 9, 2007

I know of Jesse Dangerously via various connections with Frontalot, and am not Canadian.

And, uh. Everyone I can think of off the top of my head has already been suggested.
posted by sparkletone at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2007

RJD2 (especially DeadRinger)
nthing De La Soul
EL-P (on Def Jux with Aesop and RJD2, really likes Philip. K. Dick)
Mos Def
Blackstar (which is the collab between Mos Def and Talib Kweli) and Common both rely heavily on (good) R&B source material for their beats, to good effect.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2007

"Is this a specific genre within hiphop that I can pursue further or do you have recommendations for further listening?"

It's called Backpack Hip-Hop, pretty much. It overlaps with "underground" and "conscious" and Native Tongues hip hop, but the boundaries are fuzzy.

What you should do is start out at Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders on AMG, and start exploring through there. You'll find Pharcyde, Slum Village and Jay D. You'll probably run across Guru and Rass Kass and The Coup, but they're only partially melodic. Dalek, much as I love 'em, isn't melodic so much as abstract. But Common and Jean Grae and The Roots? Go for it. Check out the labels Stones Throw and Quannum.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2007

I have to second Guru, especially Jazzmatazz Part 1. Truly an amazing album, lots of horns and sax and great flowing rhymes. And I agree that as good as Aesop Rock and El-P are it's not quite a fit for what you seek.
posted by vito90 at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2007

Genre's you might want to check out are alternative hip hop or conscious hip hop. Both genre's were widespread during the Golden Age of hip hop. The lyrics are usually empowering and often focus on social issues, providing an "alternative" to the misogyny and violence of of gansta rap. The music is very often heavily and consciously influenced by Jazz, Funk and Soul; earlier African-American music genres that are considered empowering by the alternative hip hop artists. It's the Jazz, Funk and Soul, the bring the melodies we all like so much. Most of the artists mentioned in this thread are also listed as alternative bands along with many others on wikipedia. One glaring omission (to my eyes anyway) is the Digable Planets.
posted by Metametadata at 11:47 AM on August 9, 2007

Genres not genre's.
posted by Metametadata at 11:49 AM on August 9, 2007

Response by poster: Wow. You guys are amazing. My iTunes (and wallet) are gonna die screaming with all these tunes. Many thanks for all the suggestions so far! Keep 'em coming.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2007

I think you would enjoy Orishas a lot. There's an online player on that page.

La Mala Rodríguez has also been turning more and more melodic with each new record.
posted by micayetoca at 3:09 PM on August 9, 2007

Return of The Crooklyn Dodgers
posted by 31d1 at 3:18 PM on August 9, 2007

I had a whole thing typed out, but you should just follow klangklangston's advice. He has given you the direction you need to find what you want.

I will plug Madlib specifically, however. He's got about a zillion releases on Stone's Throw; I'd say start with something like Sound Directions - The Funky Side of Life if you lean to the funk side and Yesterday's Universe if you lean jazzwise. Caveat: neither of those albums are rap albums. They're hip hop, but there's no rapping. For the rapping, try Lootpack.
posted by carsonb at 10:39 PM on August 9, 2007

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