The Influence of Jazz on RnB, Hip-Hop & Rap

The immense influence jazz has had on the hip-hop genre can immediately seen in 1983, when Herbie Hancock released “Rockit”, which was an experiment combining jazz and electronic music, yet it still resulted in a song with a hip-hop vibe. From then on, the hip-hop genre exploded, but it wouldn’t have gained much traction if it weren’t for all the numerous jazz samples producers used to make hip-hop beats. Some notable examples of the immense impact jazz has had on hip-hop can be clearly seen in hip-hop staples such as A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory, Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother, Guru’s Jazzamatazz, and The Root’s Things Fall Apart.

Another similarity between jazz and hip-hop is how the concept of jazz improvisation is similar to the concept of free-styling, on other words, another kind of improvisation. Both genres also deep roots in the black community, for jazz and hip-hop were creative expressions of the hardships and pain the black communities had to endure for the entirety of their lives.

As the years went on and hip-hop became more mainstream, the jazz influences receded more and more with each passing year, but a glowing example of the rebirth of jazz in hip-hop can be noted in Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Here, Kendrick Lamar instills jazz back in the blood of hip-hop, while he tackles the issues and discrimination facing the black communities all across America. In this album, Kendrick successfully ties two genres back to the struggles of blacks, especially since these two genres were inspired by the hardships blacks face everywhere.