Review Summary: However you do it, stay creative.
BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG
Odd Future, or more importantly, Tyler The Creator, can’t take credit for a lot of things. They’re not the youngest MC’s to have made it big. They’re certainly not the most abrasive group out there, as Death Grips has clearly proven. And crowd surfing during shows? Please. Tonedeff was doing that shi
t before they were even in middle school. No, Odd Future cannot be placed on a pedestal for a lot of aspects of their music. They have, however, done at least a couple things right and one of them has being the inspiration of countless kids and young adults in the past year and a half of their rise to fame. Whether you like them or not, there’s no denying the level of influence this collective has been having on your basic high school adolescent. And through it all, they’ve helped inspire one particular group of musically talented kids to pick up their instruments and jam out for our listening pleasure.
Enter this three piece ‘nu-jazz’ trio, BADBADNOTGOOD. While their love of crafting music and songwriting has existed prior to the rise of Tyler and Crew, it’s that very group that has propelled this trio to the limelight of hundreds of thousands of awaiting ears. Becoming recognized fast through YouTube, their quasi-viral video of a smoothed out jazz medley of Odd Future and Tyler have made these guys somewhat of an underground underground cult hit. A three piece group comprised of kids ranging from at the time nineteen to twenty years of age, their scrawny appearance, combined with their anonymity (their drummer wears a pig mask at all times) gives them an almost post-modern, Sinatra-like swagger. Using this as a boon to launch their respective path as a band, BADBADNOTGOOD releases their free mixtape for the population, minimally titled BBNG
Comprised almost entirely of covers, BBNG
isn’t so much an original piece of work as it is an artist’s rendition of classics. Featuring completely redone hits from the likes of Gang Starr, Nas and Joy Division to name a few, BADBADNOTGOOD take a very risky step at faithfully maintaining the soul of the original, while injecting their own flavor and sound into the track. And their own flavor and sound they have most certainty achieved on this mixtape. As if the originals weren’t already done excellently themselves, BADBADNOTGOOD take it a step further by spinning their own take on the tracks by converting them into smooth-jazz format. Marrying extremely tight bass work, drum work and piano, BADBADNOTGOOD chill out nearly every single track on BBNG
; rickety, Miles Davis symbol crashes, ever active bass licks that trades off with the keys and constantly fighting for solo dominance. Official opening track “Fall In Love” (Slum Village cover) opens up the tempo with subtle jangles of the crashes, slowing the tempo for the piano intro to pick up, a solemn snare hit signifies the beginning and the bass comes it, hard hitting, in time with the bass drum.
Yet being so influenced by the culture that BADBADNOTGOOD has been a part of, combined with the beats of the originals that they are portraying, BBNG
is undoubtedly hip-hop based, on top of the jazz that it plays. Rhythm and heavy hitting low ends make up a majority of the tracks on the mixtape (“Mass Appeal/Transmission”, “The World Is Yours/Brooklyn Zoo”). But this dichotomy of old and new only serves to put the focus on the commonalities that the two genres have with each other. Granted, jazz based hip-hop is something that’s been done since the Golden Era of the scene, but with a group like BADBADNOTGOOD, so heavily dipped in the realms of jazz more so than the latter, it only serves to reinforce the belief that while hip-hop can easily be influenced by jazz, the same can be said for the other way around.
climaxes with the over nine minute mash-up of several Zelda: Ocarina Of Time tunes. “Title Theme/Saria’s Song/Song Of Storms” doesn’t necessarily give BADBADNOTGOOD any points on originality, but their honest to God renditions of the three tracks seem so genuine, respectful and loving in its approach that when the first scales of “Title Theme” come into play you can’t help but feel the intensity of the music. It also doesn’t help that a majority of the listener base that will wind up hearing the mash-up will be sent directly to nostalgia central while the track plays (anyone who’s had an N64 in the past should most definitely have had the Ocarina Of Time comfortably played through).
Ending the mixtape with an indirect dis towards Coltrane’s Giant Steps
, BADBADNOTGOOD sum it all up by taking an ‘out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new” approach on their debut mixtape; inviting any naysayers in for them to judge based solely on their merits as musicians rather than cocky kids. At the very least, BBNG is a welcome reinterpretation of modern jazz without the pretense of snotty wine parties and thick rimmed hipster dinosaurs. What path of relaxation this three piece trio can come up with next, be it may a collaboration with Tyler or any of the Wolf Gang, or an entirely original orchestrated piece of their own, we can only cross our fingers and tune in to see what possibilities BADBADNOTGOOD will open in the future.