NEW MUSIC: The Beast & Nnenna Freelon present The Freedom Suite
I am not familiar with hip-hop group The Beast or jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, however the release of their Freedom Suite album has been causing quite a stir amongst fellow bloggers so I thought I’d take a listen and see what all the fuss was about. Before pressing play I did a bit of research and found that the project was …
a 10-track collection of creative reflections on jazz and hip-hop
All sounded good thus far and the press release went on to say …
Freedom Suite follows in the tradition of other collaborative jazz and hip-hop projects like the late Guru‘s Jazzmatazz. The album features six original songs written and produced by The Beast, which are infused with both a live jazz aesthetic (drums, bass, piano, percussion, strings and horns were all recorded live) and an electronic/sample-based hip-hop aesthetic. Freedom Suite also includes four contemporary interpretations of “standards” from the jazz and hip-hop cannon, including arrangements of Mos Def’s “Umi Says,” Johnny Mercer & Hoagy Charmichael’s “Skylark” and Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop.”
I’ll be honest, the deal-clincher for me was the tracklisting which featured collaborations with 9th Wonder, YahZarah, Phonte, Carlitta Durand and Darien Brockington. All of the collaborations definitely add a little extra spice to the project however it’s the core acts, The Beast and Nnenna, which grab the attention on a full listen. Nnenna’s voice is a truly beautiful instrument, and the interplay between her and The Beast quartet works wonderfully. Production-wise it is also hard to find fault, as it pays homage to classic hip-hop/jazz crossover whilst remaining fresh and new.
The album will be released on October 26th via OkayPlayer’s new jazz-focused channel The Revivalist.