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Hand On the Torch

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Album Review

Hip-hop/jazz fusionisters Us3 have forged the most elaborate union between the styles since the early days of Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. Blue Note's vast catalog gives them a huge advantage over several similar groups in terms of source material, and classic sounds by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Herbie Hancock provide zest and fiber to their narratives. Indeed, when things falter, it's because the raps aren't always that creative. They are serviceable and sometimes catchy, but too often delivered without the snazzy touches or distinctive skills that make Quest and Gang Starr's material top-notch. But when words and music mesh, as on "Cantaloop" or "The Darkside," Us3 show how effectively hip-hop and jazz can blend.

Customer Reviews

No jazz or rap fan should live w/o this.

I call this a classic 'cuz it shows a new level of the jazz legendaries we grew up around us. A lot of people are dissin' on hip-hop 2day b/c it shows no mercy but lackness. I have love for dem cats right here.

Fav. picks: Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia), I Got it Goin' On, It's Like That, Just Another Brother, Tukka Yoot's Riddim, Knowledge of Self

This is recommended along with all of Guru's Jazzmatazz albums, all Tribe classic albums, Do You Want More??!!?!, Illadelph Halfline and Things Fall Apart by the Roots, Resurrection, 1 Day It'll All Make Sense, and Like Water for Chocolate by Common, The Antidote and The Quiet Revolution by Ronny Jordan, The Rebirth of Cool Series (all volumes, depends which one is better) and especially Heavens by the Martytroyd Trio. Definitely a Must-Have 2 date.


Formed: 1991 in London, England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The jazz/hip-hop fusion collective Us3 scored a major hit in 1994 with "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)," a song that displayed the group's fondness for sampling classic recordings on the Blue Note label (in this case, Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island"). The group was founded in London in 1991 when concert promoter and jazz writer Geoff Wilkinson met Mel Simpson, who was writing music for television shows and ad jingles and had once played keyboards with John Mayall. The two produced an independent...
Full Bio

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Hand On the Torch, Us3
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