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Blue Note Records: Hip-Hop-Hard-Bop

Grant Green

Just as today’s jazzers often yearn for their music’s halcyon years-whether it’s ’30s swing, ’40s bebop or ’50s hard-bop-hip-hop has its own generation gaps, with many aging B-Boys longing for what is commonly referred to as the Golden Age (1987 to 1995). It was during this era that Blue Note Records wielded its strongest influence on rap. The label’s new compilation, Droppin’ Science: Greatest Samples From the Blue Note Lab, serves, in part, as a love letter to that particular time, when Public Enemy, Brand Nubian, Pete Rock and A Tribe Called Quest reigned supreme.

Droppin’ Science is a 10-song (13 if you get the vinyl edition) treasure chest that arrives on the heels of other noteworthy Blue Note nods to DJ culture like 2005’s Mizell, 2004’s Blue Note Revisited and avant-hip-hopper Madlib’s 2003 document Shades of Blue. If you’re both a hardcore jazz and hip-hop fan, you’ll recognize that those are just a few of the many Blue Note’s hip-hop-centric compilations circulating worldwide (especially in Europe and Japan). In addition to the phenomenal early-’90s success of Us3, British producer Eddie Philler’s four-disc Blue Break Beats series is the label’s most cherished shout out to hip-hop.

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Originally Published

John Murph

John Murph is a Washington, D.C.-based music journalist and DJ. He’s written for numerous outlets that include JazzTimes, DownBeat, NPR Jazz, JazzWise, The Root, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic Monthly. He hosts a weekly radio program at Eaton Hotel DC.