As I have mentioned in a past post, Ropeadope Records is one of my favorite contemporary labels. They’ve done an incredible job at discovering and promoting artists who create the exact type of music that tickles my fancy: forward-looking jazz music that incorporates elements of hip-hop, soul, and more. Really, we could get away with calling this music something other than “jazz,” but that’s a debate for another day. Today, we take a listen to one of the freshest musical duos on the scene: Adam & Kizzie.
Originally from Oklahoma, Adam & Kizzie perform a certain species of music that they have named “EEDO beat,” a reference to the word “frEEDOm.” This musical style can be described as a combination of jazz, hip-hop, soul, and R&B, but trying to limit this duo’s music to the act of labeling will ultimately land you in a world of frustration. The beauty behind Adam & Kizzie’s music is it’s dynamic nature, the way in which it flows effortlessly between genres and so deliciously blurs the lines between those genres.
Take the second track, “Maze,” from Adam & Kizzie’s latest album, The Book of EEDO Vol 2. There is so much to take in, it is almost overwhelming. But, alas, we forge ahead. Greeting us at the beginning of the tune is a full-fledged jazz instrumental intro: a traditional jazz rhythm section playing a swing rhythm and featuring a guitar solo. Then, all of a sudden, we are bombarded by a rapid-fire rap delivery. This relentless flow, reminiscent of Yasiin Bey (f.k.a. Mos Def), is at the very least impressive, if not outright virtuosic. The contrast between the rapid rap verses and the slower, pensive choruses makes the song invigorating. Most importantly (at least to me), this song has a traditional jazz structure, featuring instrumental solos. A long piano solo, using bebop language, makes an appearance in the last half of the tune. It is supported by aggressive drums that are playing heavy swing and inserting incredibly hip fills.
The conclusion that we arrive at after listening to Adam & Kizzie is that it is ultimately pointless to try to label their music. The best I can do is label it as “innovative” or maybe “educational.” By bringing so many different musical traditions together, Adam & Kizzie are essentially giving us a survey course in 20th and 21st century music. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put this album on repeat.