Today, we are going on a bit of a detour. Instead of presenting music that is clearly hip-hop-inspired jazz, or jazz-inspired hip-hop, I am going to offer you something slightly different. Having enjoyed many praises and successes over the past four years, including a chart-topping album, Gary Clark Jr. has become one of this era’s guitar gods. A Texas blues man at heart, Clark is known for creating music that incorporates elements of classic blues, R&B, soul, hard rock, jazz, and hip-hop. This is what makes his music so appealing. Even if some of these elements are subtle, you know they are there, and they are always used tastefully.
There is one song, “The Life,” off of Clark’s first album, that does an exceptional job of showing off this musical syncretism. Notice the vocal delivery; there is a pseudo-rap thing going on. It isn’t rap, but the melody does not venture beyond more than a few pitches, and there is a lot of emphasis on rhythmic placement. It is obvious that this was written by someone who grew up listening to hip-hop (which Clark did, as a product of the 80s, 90s, and 00s). As I’ve mentioned in the past, we are currently living in a very exciting time, in terms of music; musicians who grew up listening to hip-hop greats are now all grown up and making their own musical contributions. It’s happening a lot in the jazz world and with other musics, as evidenced by Gary Clark Jr.
To learn more about Clark’s hip-hop approach, check out this video. Keep an eye out for the release of his sophomore album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, on September 11. Dig the released singles from the album here.
As always, Much Love.