10 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Jazz has long accommodated collage techniques and studio trickery, but the genre’s digital-fusion wing took a major leap in the 2010s as virtuoso instrumentalists adopted tactics forged in hip-hop. Count New York-by-way-of-Seattle drummer/producer/vocalist Kassa Overall among this post-everything avant-garde: His debut album stakes out turf midway between Makaya McCraven’s jam-session cutups and Kendrick Lamar’s headiest beats. He’s an intricate rapper with a seductive, sandpapery voice well suited to evocative sketches like “What’s New With You,” a rueful breakup song over languid piano-trio balladry, and he’s an insightful lyricist, too (“What’s the best stocks?/Prison and pharmaceuticals”). His rhythms are innovative across the board, whether he’s letting brushes dance over the snares or folding sampled breaks like origami squares. It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by top-notch players: On “Who’s on the Playlist,” pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Stephan Crump, and flautist Anthony Ware all melt like butter into the mix; Arto Lindsay, a veteran of both '80s No Wave and Brazilian jazz, brings smoldering, overdriven guitar to the dubbed-out “My Friend.” And “La Casa Azul,” a neo-neo-soul vamp par excellence, even features trumpet from the late Roy Hargrove, a titan of the instrument. Few jazz/hip-hop fusions are this credentialed—or, indeed, this essential.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Jazz has long accommodated collage techniques and studio trickery, but the genre’s digital-fusion wing took a major leap in the 2010s as virtuoso instrumentalists adopted tactics forged in hip-hop. Count New York-by-way-of-Seattle drummer/producer/vocalist Kassa Overall among this post-everything avant-garde: His debut album stakes out turf midway between Makaya McCraven’s jam-session cutups and Kendrick Lamar’s headiest beats. He’s an intricate rapper with a seductive, sandpapery voice well suited to evocative sketches like “What’s New With You,” a rueful breakup song over languid piano-trio balladry, and he’s an insightful lyricist, too (“What’s the best stocks?/Prison and pharmaceuticals”). His rhythms are innovative across the board, whether he’s letting brushes dance over the snares or folding sampled breaks like origami squares. It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by top-notch players: On “Who’s on the Playlist,” pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Stephan Crump, and flautist Anthony Ware all melt like butter into the mix; Arto Lindsay, a veteran of both '80s No Wave and Brazilian jazz, brings smoldering, overdriven guitar to the dubbed-out “My Friend.” And “La Casa Azul,” a neo-neo-soul vamp par excellence, even features trumpet from the late Roy Hargrove, a titan of the instrument. Few jazz/hip-hop fusions are this credentialed—or, indeed, this essential.

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