I always wondered if rap would develop along the same path jazz did when free jazz came along.

Ornette Coleman – Free

All the gestures are clearly still jazz gestures, but the theoretical harmonic glue that usually holds those gestures together in unfree jazz is dissolved.  The gestures take on a life of their own outside of their usual boundaries and seem to float chaotically like released balloons.

Rap has different restrictions to break from since harmony and melody have consistently (thankfully) taken a back seat to rhythm and texture.  Deviations in texture have been common for decades, but a true break from clear rhythmic structure is far less common.  Some spoken word and some Lil’ B experiments remove pulse altogether, but this isn’t quite the same as what free jazz did.  It’s not like Ornette removed notes from his music, he just freed them from their usual restrictions.  I think this Tree/Chris Crack song is the best example I’ve heard of a rap version of this.

Tree + Chris Crack – Marv

As with free jazz, all the gestures are still rap gestures, but the drum programming is confusing enough that it’s easy to lose the bar and both rappers seem to pay no attention to the pulse and rap at their own chosen writhing pace, it has that same refreshing chaos that I hear in the free jazz that I love.

I’d welcome any other examples if anybody knows some (and if this post makes sense to anybody but me).

Tagged , ,


  1. Reeve says:

    love this post

  2. […] to hear somebody besides Tree rapping over samples with some […]

  3. […] I wrote about Tree & Chris Crack leading the rap vanguard over the cliff into formlessness I didn’t really think the era of rap’s version of free jazz (“free rap” […]

Leave a Reply to STUCK FOR DAYS | DRIVE SLOW Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: