Just about everywhere – save perhaps the uranium enrichment facilities in Iran – fusion tends to get a bad rap. We have no one to blame but ourselves, really, as we ceaselessly insist the catch-all term has a place at our casual dining restaurants and in our music. But, to dismiss a genre because of such a superficial stereotype as “fusion” would mean missing out on some great music, like BADBADNOTGOOD.
Melding hip-hop and jazz, BBNG2 is the latest free release from the bubbling Toronto-based band, a scorching selection that sears the trio a spot in today’s disparate music scene.
The album opens with “Earl”, repurposing the bare-knuckle beat of the well-known Earl Sweatshirt song as a thick, sweaty monster of a number. The cut is enhanced with the addition of saxophonist Leland Whitty, lending atmospheric alto sax to the grizzly production.
“Vices”, the second cut off the record, is one of five original tracks. Maybe it’s the tonality of the electric piano, but the tune recalls a bit of the melody from BBNG standout “Fall In Love”. This one is extra wavy, taking some clever chances with the production while Alexander Sowinski provides crisp, propulsive percussion. The original productions peppered throughout fit well within the context of hip-hop reinterpretations. A rapper could – and should – hop on “UWM” and not think twice.
There is inherent risk in taking on production perfectionist like James Blake and Kanye West, their re-workings of “Limit To Your Love” and “Flashing Lights” are two of the album’s best moments. They even manage to mold “Bastard” and “Lemonade” with surprising ease.
Jazz, and to a lesser extent hip-hop, both have a tradition of experimentation and re-thinking every day assumptions, and BADBADNOTGOOD seamlessly slip behind those footsteps. And if they haven’t kicked down any bolted doors just yet, consider a footnote on their Bandcamp page: No one above the age of 21 was involved in the making of this album.
Not bad at all.