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Toronto troupe BADBADNOTGOOD are unlikely candidates for rap and R&B power players: As a group of mild-mannered jazz-program alumni, they look like they’d be more at home in the conservatory than rocking festivals with Ghostface Killah. But BADBADNOTGOOD’s improvisatory ethos has always been anchored by a deep-seated love of hip-hop. Shortly after forming in 2010, bassist Chester Hansen, drummer Alexander Sowinski, and keyboardist Matty Tavares first turned heads online with The Odd Future Sessions, an instrumental tribute to the California crew that earned praise—and eventual invitations to collaborate—from Tyler, the Creator himself. BADBADNOTGOOD’s rap bonafides were further solidified when they were enlisted to provide the live boom-bap backdrop to Ghostface’s 2015 release Sour Soul (after which guest saxophonist Leland Whitty joined the band full-time). But over the course of their own albums, BADBADNOTGOOD have developed an intoxicating cocktail of dusty-grooved funk, loungey soul, mind-bending jazz fusion, Brazilian psychedelia, cinematic orchestration, and pure rock power that they perfected on their 2021 tour de force Talk Memory (their first release following Tavares’ 2019 departure). All the while, they’ve harnessed their exploratory impulses into savvy pop crossovers—like “Time Moves Slow,” their smoldering 2016 single with Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring—that have given BADBADNOTGOOD a level of mainstream visibility only achievable in most jazz-school grads’ dreams.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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