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“The greatest artists are the greatest imitators. All artists draw on inspiration from someplace else,” veteran rapper and cultural icon Talib Kweli explains as we discuss the current state of hip-hop and music in general. For his latest project, Gravitas, Kweli brought in an inspiration of his own in Q-Tip to produce and help him craft the sonic structure of his upcoming record. Check out below as we catch a few words on the impact of various American cultural phenomenons on music today, his current tour, and his upcoming record.

Esperanza Spalding drops Radio Music Society today featuring producer, Q-Tip and special guests Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette, Lalah Hathaway, Algebra Blessett, and more. The groove-oriented album is rooted is rooted in jazz sensibilities, but made for the average music consumer. It is both relatable and intricate, paying homage to legends and unknowns alike.

It seems the radio is a popular subject this season. After the release of Black Radio I asked myself, “What could album could possibly distract me from listening to this?” Alas NPR has graced us with a First Listen of Esperanza Spalding’s widely anticipated Radio Music Society. Sit back and take a listen:

Since this Issue is a major focus of our site, we decided to re-launch Issue No. 2 The Hip Hop and Jazz Debate, which came out in Jan. of 2011. If you didn’t get a chance to read through all of our great features, now is your chance to go through them one by one, including a lengthy list of album reviews. Top Features from this Issue include Weldon Irvine, Respect the Architect: DJs Are Musicians, Word on Rap: The Vocal Instrument, Jazz Poetry, Rap: Cause and Effect of the Black Arts Movement, Insane in the Left Brain and DJ with Live Band vs DJ with Emcee.

It was the era that produced Bilal Sayeed Oliver; a man who grew from progeny of the church to prodigy of the jazz circuit well before getting a good grip on life as a freshman at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts; a factory of local talent that boasts Boyz II Men and The Roots amongst notable alumni. Philadelphia is a strange town, amongst few others across the nation, including Washington D.C. and New Orleans, where children still learn to play instruments despite the non-existent budget for arts and culture in schools.

When I’m practicing, or when anyone’s practicing, we’re honing the details. We’re studying physically how to become agile. We’re working out, in sort of frozen time, meaning we can take a long time with a concept or an idea or a pattern or sound if we need to, until we have access to it physically, and intellectually. We can sort of stop the clock, so to speak, and we can go in and hone in the details.

(Battery) 2009 Kamaal/The Abstract, which was originally supposed to be released in 2002, came to fruition around the same time that Q-Tip was working with keep reading »

What is wrong with jazz today? This is a broad question that, in the coming weeks, will be hit upon numerous time as a form of self-reflection for improvement. It is not to say there are not amazing things happening in the jazz world every day, yet the scene today differs vastly from the times of Dizzy and Bird, or Miles and Trane.

Sitting down with Q-Tip is always a double edged sword, excitement to talk shop with a literal reference point in music, but also disappointment that there are enough stories and questions to last days, so choosing wisely is a necessity because time is short with a man who remains just as relevant to music today as he was when he hit the scene with Tribe decades ago. Even so, we got down to the gritty details of what fuels him and his recent collaborations with guitar virtuoso Kurt Rosenwinkel.

DROM got lit up Friday night with point on performances by the likes of Illa J (who also took a stab at the piano for his set), T3 of Slum Village, and Q-Tip who was later joined by fellow Tribe member Jarobi for a few classics including “Award Tour,” which closed out the night. In between sets DJ Metaphysic and Mick Boogie held down the Dilla duty, parsing through Jay’s tracks to the delight of the audience. Overall the night was made special by the love put into it by all of the performers, as well as Ma Dukes and Joylette Hunter, head of the J Dilla Foundation and Dilla’s former fiancé.