H Is For Hip Hop And Its Queens

H in the A to Z of fusion goes to Hip Hop music – leaving aside here the other core elements that make up hip hop culture.

Hip Hop earns its place because its creation definitely involves the refined art of fusion. From DJs mixing records they spin to studio producers/beat makers sampling, chopping, looping, sequencing, recording and mixing-  the beats, sounds and grooves that make up hip hop music are found and blended together from a broad range of worldwide music sources including funk, soul, rhythm and blues, disco, jazz, rock, heavy metal, reggae, salsa, cumbia, soca, pop and well, any other genre you choose really.

The evolution of hip hop music is long and involved. Its characters and contributors are many. Its history fills pages you can find elsewhere. Sufficed to say here its original roots are found in Africa and since its formation in New York in the 70’s the hip hop phenomena has spread far and wide throughout the world. Erykah Badu perfectly describes its contemporary influence in ‘The Healer’ when she sings “It’s bigger than religion, hip hop. It’s bigger than my nigga, hip hop. It’s bigger than the government”.  And thankfully so.

“The Healer” by Erykah Badu – New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)

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It’s the hip hop Kings of the world who’ve generally been the most heard and celebrated. Check out “essential hip hop” albums to find most are compilations of tracks by male artists. But of course there are female artists all over the world creating hip hop music whether they be DJ’s, MCs, beat makers or producers. Sampled below are songs featuring just a handful of those many hip hop Queens – some widely known and celebrated, others less so.

The usual warning applies: versions you find here are just dirty, compressed mp3s. Get the real deal on hard copy from your local music store, in their sweetest of forms on vinyl.

Erykah Badu (U.S.A)

Erykah Badu - Worldwide Underground

“Love Of My Life Worldwide” featuring Queen Latifah, Angie Stone & Bahamadia – Worldwide Underground

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Fugees (inc. Ms Lauryn Hill) (U.S.A)

Fugees - Blunted On Reality

“Some Seek Stardom” – Blunted on Reality

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ChocQuibTown (Colombia)

ChocQuibTown - Somos Pacifico

“Somos Pacifico” – Somos Pacifico

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Georgia Anne Muldrow (U.S.A)

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

“Monoculture” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Ladi6 (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Ladi6 - Time Is Not Much

“Give Me The Light” – Time Is Not Much

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Nneka (Nigeria/Germany)

Nneka - No Longer At Ease

“Halfcast” – No Longer At Ease 

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Telmary (Cuba)

Telmary - A Diario

“Ando” – A Diario

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Yep, blessed are we for the birth of hip hop music and its ongoing fusionary evolution since by artists all over the world.  Thankful are we for both its Queens and its Kings.

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Miles Davis And Robert Glasper – Everything’s Beautiful

You’d be forgiven for thinking a Miles Davis and Robert Glasper album would include a whole lot of horn and piano playing by those two artists. But, with Everything’s Beautiful, you’d be wrong. And you’re all the better for it.

Miles Davis and Robert Glasper - Everything's Beautiful

Everything’s Beautiful (2016)

Showcasing their skills on trumpet and piano wasn’t the task Robert Glasper gave himself as producer. Nor was it his vision to honour the broad-ranging creative genius of Miles Davis by only creating straight remixes of beloved Miles Davis songs or limiting that genius to his trumpet chops. Because Miles Davis was so much more than an incredible trumpet player (just like Robert Glasper is so much more than a beautiful piano player).

He was consistently an innovator; an experimentalist; a band leader who inspired, pushed and brought out the best in his musical collaborators via both blunt and subtle directions; an artist who was open to everything and revelled in the freedom of creating new sounds beyond expectation boxes and reflective of the particular time in which they were made.

It’s in that spirit that Everything’s Beautiful, through it’s sparse sampling of Miles on trumpet, Miles clapping and Miles’ talking to musicians in recording sessions (the most special of the album’s insights into his artistry), brilliantly reflects the many sides of his creative genius via the subtle.

It’s also in that spirit that Robert Glasper called upon some of today’s most talented innovators in the soul, jazz and hip hop spheres. That he gave them the freedom to take the inspirational sounds of Miles to create new musical magic representing the world in 2016 – according to and expressed by them individually as artists. Just as Miles would have wanted it.

Those feature artists include Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, BilalGeorgia Anne Muldrow, Hiatus Kaiyote, Phonte, Laura Mvula, Derrick Hodge, Illa JLedisi, 9th Wonder and KING plus many other musicians and producers to discover by getting your hands on the physical album.

Erykah Badu live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu

The combined creativity of those artists, and the end result facilitated by Robert Glasper, is a super-dreamy sonic landscape of the feel-right kind.

Amongst its many sonic pleasures is taking an ethereal underwater journey with Hiatus Kaiyote on their reinterpretation of Miles’ 1970 recording of “Little Church”. Another is hearing the heavenly voice of Bilal singing a much-needed message of hope beyond racial oppression and poverty in “Ghetto Walkin” . So too is Laura Mvula’s hypnotic vocal command to “listen in a silent way”. Then there’s those sublime moments after Erykah Badu’s bossa nova morphs into a lullaby of distinctively-Erykah “oo-ee-oo”s in “Maiysha (So Long)”. Or, taking a break from the dreamy for a funkier and fierier vibe with Ledisi’s and Miles Davis’s voices on “I’m Leaving You”. And last but not least of the album’s pleasures is hearing the instantly-recognisable sounds of Stevie Wonder on harmonica in the album’s closing track “Right On Brotha”.

Here you have a teeny, mp3-compressed taste of Everything’s Beautiful’s other sonic delights. In “Talking Shit” you’ll hear Miles embracing new technologies of the time (as always) and encouraging Joe Chambers to do the same. Also describing the sound of hip hop long before hip hop became “hip hop”. “Milestones (Remix)” features the vocals and production of prolific beat-maker Georgia Anne Muldrow and one of the album’s only two piano solos by Robert Glasper. It’s the one that makes me feel the most.

Miles Davis and Robert Glasper - Everything's Beautiful

Everything’s Beautiful (2016)

“Talking Shit” – Everything’s Beautiful

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“Milestones” Remix featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow – Everything’s Beautiful

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To enjoy the full, uncompressed sounds of those songs – as well as Everything’s Beautiful nine other awesome tracks; to find out the names of all the artists who contributed to creating this album and read Robert Glasper’s words about their involvement, buy a hard-copy for your Beloved-Forever-After Collection.

While you’re at your local independent record store doing so, be sure to find Robert Glasper’s other albums too. If you’re not familiar with them, check out samples from a few here.

Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio 2

Black Radio 2 (2013)

“Persevere” featuring Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco and Luke James – Robert Glasper Experiment

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Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio

Black Radio (2012)

“Afro Blue” featuring Erykah Badu – Robert Glasper Experiment

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Robert Glasper - Double Booked

Double Booked (2009)

“Festival” – Robert Glasper

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Also keep your ear to the ground for the release of Herbie Hancock’s new album which Robert Glasper is co-producing.

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Georgia Anne Muldrow Accentuating The Positive

Georgia Anne Muldrow’s most recent album A Thoughtiverse Unmarred, is a fabulous and timely reminder of how very much the world (both humans and the precious environment we live in) benefits from having positive musical messengers like her within it.

During its twelve tracks of hip hop beats and rhymes soaked in funk and soul, Georgia Anne Muldrow’s conscious words unfailingly accentuate the positive over the negative. They encourage love and compassion over hate – call for equality and fairness over injustice and discrimination – promote diversity and spirituality over the monocultural and materialistic – advocate for peace over conflict – and champion self determination, hope and triumph over one’s disadvantaged social, political and economic circumstances.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

A Thoughtiverse Unmarred (2015)

The bonus is that those positive lyrical messages from Georgia Anne Muldrow and featured rappers Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins) and MP Is Free come with music wholly produced by Chris Keys, all together likely to make you feel good and want to dance with them.

Check out two sample tracks from A Thoughtiverse Unmarred here, remembering they’re just compressed mp3 versions of the real deal. You can buy the full album in all its goodness (including finding a copy on sweet vinyl) to cherish forever-after amongst the other gems of your music collection.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Monoculture” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Child Shot” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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