Jul 6, 2010

Review: Hidden Beach Unwrapped Volume 2

NOTE: On July 13th 2010 Hidden Beach Unwrapped Volume 7: Back to Basics will be released. In the lead up to the new release, I will be posting a review every day of the previous six releases. You can read the reviews as they are posted by clicking on the links on the right side under the "Album Reviews" widget.


In review yesterday of Volume 1, I mentioned that the Unwrapped series represents a perfect melding of jazz, hip hop and R&B.   However, as Atlanta DJ Frank Ski points out on the intro and outro of this new Volume, it shouldn't be a shock.  

We seem to have grown up looking at Jazz music as "old" music.  When we think of Jazz, often people, particularly younger people, view jazz as music from decades past.  They don't understand that the thin line between jazz and hip hop and R&B is thinner than they may realize.

Numerous hip hop artists have sampled jazz musicians, whether it's Jay Z, DMX, Nas, Common or Kanye West.   In fact, there's very little music out there that hasn't been sampled by one of your favorite hip hop artists.

Nas and Jay Z have sampled classical music, so why should it be "out there" for hip hop and Jazz to have a close connection?

The Unwrapped series brilliantly shines a light on this, and illustrates just the sentiments that Frank Ski speaks of on Volume 2:  It's all the same music.

Volume two kicks off with "Always on Time" with Patrice Rushen taking over for Ja Rule/Ashanti, and doesn't really let up.   As with volume 1 there's so many strong tracks here, that it's difficult to narrow it down to a handful that should be pointed out and featured.

Jeff Lorber shines on "Electric Relaxation", doing a good job of faithfully recreating that "Tribe Vibe" while putting his own touches on a hip hop classic.   Mike Phillips and Jeff Bradshaw are dynamite on "Music", originally by Erick Sermon (sampling Marvin Gaye), and Lorber and Phillips perfectly take on Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince's "Summertime".

However, the two standout tracks are hands down Karen Briggs' "Gangsta's Paradise" and Lou Taylor and Jeff Bradshaw's "Bouncin Back (Bumpin' Me Against The Wall)".

Briggs is flat out on fire on Gangsta's Paradise, and when I first got the CD, I didn't actually finish the whole CD for two days because I kept rewinding this song.  Briggs' violin playing was just on another level, and she, once again, does her part to nearly steal the album, as she did on Volume 1 with "You Got Me" (with Mike Phillips).

On the terms of sheer creativity, however, the top prize goes to Bradshaw and Taylor's interesting take on Mystikal's "Bouncin' Back" which reinterprets it as something you would hear back in the heyday of Harlem Renaissance Era of Jazz music.   You can check out the official video for that track below:

All in all another solid release by the Hidden Beach family, and another great summertime BBQ music choice.  As with the other reviews, below is the sampler they released, which you can listen to snippets of all the tracks, and then click the link to buy it from Hidden Beach's website.   You can't go wrong here.

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