Music has always been an amalgamation of different sounds and styles, which is why genres such as jazz rap have come to exist. Jazz rap combines hip-hop and jazz, blending the dynamic rhythms, sync, and improvisational elements of early jazz with the lyrical flow and vernacular typical to modern hip-hop or rap music. Jazz rap is a musical that emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jazz rap first gained mainstream attention in the early 1990s with artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr. Historically, jazz and rap music integration first occurred in the 1970s with fusion genres such as soul, funk, and disco. The 1980s saw a rise in the popularity of hip-hop, leading to the creation of hardcore rap. In the early 1990s, artists such as Gang Starr, Mos Def, DeLaSoul, and A Tribe Called Quest created a more mellow form of jazz rap called “conscious rap.
The mid-1990s marked a point of fusion between hardcore and conscious rap with the emergence of artists such as Bad Brains, The Roots, and Common. The genre’s popularity waned in the early 2000s due to mainstream artists abandoning jazz influences and developing more conventional hip-hop sounds. However, a handful of artists continued to create jazz rap. There has been a resurgence in fusion genres derived from jazz and hip-hop, such as noise rap. Jazz rap artists often use their platforms to express social issues, personal struggles, and political views.
Jazz rap has significantly impacted the hip-hop music industry, and vice versa. The two genres share many common elements, such as improvisation and eclecticism. This allows jazz rappers to write virtuosic raps that are difficult to replicate, making their music more effective in appealing to mainstream audiences. Additionally, jazz elements have infiltrated hip-hop lyrics across different subgenres, helping to broaden the genre’s appeal.