It is a great auditory site to behold when there is an undeniable bond between Jazz and Hip Hop. We’re talking about different forms of jazz, not just the “biddy-biddy-bop” that became commercialized dribble for the masses. One of the strongest bridges built between the world of fusion jazz and hip hop could be the example of Jay Dee‘s usage of the great Ahmad Jamal‘s song entitled Swahililand, which is an amazing composition by Jamal, and it was transformed into an amazing masterpiece by Jay Dee, which in turn was used to create De La Soul title track single Stakes is High.
Ahmad Jamal – Swahililand (Original 1974 Version, from the album Jamal plays Jamal)
A far cry from their days as “Hip Hop Hippies” (a term that was used by the media more than their fans), the Stakes is High era was one that displayed a side of realism that hip hop fans and listeners were not used to seeing. The term “Real” has many different meanings in Hip Hop. To some, it means the glorification of guns, violence, and street life, and to others, it is the depiction of struggle and hardship. In the concept of the Stakes is High video, De La Soul was addressing the term real in reference to what the rap audience perceived as real. They’re version of real was addressing the problems with the inner cities across America, the fallacies that are depicted in rap videos, imagery, and song, and not to mention a video where they seem to be doing every day, mundane chores.
From abstract fusion jazz, to a brilliant beat maker, to a legendary hip hop group, the result is one of the greatest songs that the hip hop art form has ever heard. Each facet of this song can be dissected and analyzed…and that’s just the title track of the album. Enjoy the visuals for De La Soul’s Stakes is High, and you will surely appreciate the production of Jay Dee, as well as the contribution from Mr. Ahmad Jamal.
Written by: @Haylow
(Photo by: Daniel Sheehan)