As the hip-hop nation grew, it was natural for jazz grooves to play an integral part of its evolution. From DJs spinning Sonny Rollins loops over beats, to rappers vocally challenging seasoned soloists (as Guru did with trumpeter Don Cherry), the initial burst of energy that a new-found jazz influence gave to hip-hop was like a blood transfusion, providing for a healthier long-term existence. With DO YOU WANT MORE?!!!??!, the Roots up the ante on all the jazz-tip outfits that have rolled out before them, fully integrating a live band with the rappers, and kicking a funky rhyme like it hasn't been kicked before...and at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, no less.
The Philadelphia quartet--MCs Black Thought and Malik B., bassist Hub, and drummer B.R.O. The R.?--treat the vocalists as simply two more instrumentalists, and thus as equal elements to the overall sound. The rappers carry the mic with a singular funky swing, comfortable in any flow setting but often mirroring the verbal interplay of A Tribe Called Quest (whom they also name-check); and the rhythm section drops its own share of bombs, when they're not busy laying down grooves for the likes of Steve Coleman and other additional players. The space heats up quickest when Black Thought and Malik use the band as a springboard for interactive flurries, and play directly off them (the live, freestyle grind, "Essay Whuman?!!??"). When such genuine moments of improvisation arise, the Roots seem like they're miles ahead of everybody else on hip-hop's jazz fusion highway.
8. ? Vs. Rahzel