In Lifted, Javon Anderson examines the long-standing relationship between jazz and hip hop.

Founded in 2010 by keyboardist Matthew Tavarez, bassist Chester Hansen, drummer Alexander Sowinski and later joined by saxophonist Leland Whitty, BADBADNOTGOOD are a group of musicians who wear their influences on their sleeves. As a result of staying true to their vision, they have carved out a unique space for themselves in the music scene, while having a list of interestingly diverse collaborations including hip-hop legends Ghostface Killah and the late MF DOOM and Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai. Their entire career is an interesting case study of how jazz and hip hop can intertwine and enhance one another.

Formed in Humber College’s jazz program, BADBADNOTGOOD emerged on the scene with their first album titled BBNG, released for free on Bandcamp in 2011. This debut was a refreshing fusion of jazz, hip hop and electronic music that found them indulging in their varied influences and showcasing their improvisational abilities. Alongside a few original compositions, the group covered artists including Flying Lotus, J Dilla, Nas, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and even Joy Division, using their jazz vocabulary and innate chemistry as a group to tie everything together.

Here’s an example of their take on J Dilla’s Fall in Love, originally produced for Slum Village. This track features Hansen providing a rounded bassline that retains the harmonic motifs of the original instrumental, Sowinski laying down the rhythmic foundations with a punchy yet discreet drum groove, and Tavarez’ skittering keyboard solos, all of it showing off the group’s dynamics and colourful harmony over the loop-based structures of more traditional hip hop.