How does Robert Glasper and Miles Davis’ Album Everything’s Beautiful (2016) Move the Legacy of Jazz Rap Forward?

Isobel Savulescu

Abstract


This article proposes that Robert Glasper’s album Everything’s Beautiful (2016) represents a significant change in both the creative process and possibilities of the sub-genre of jazz rap that emerged in the late 1980s. I present an overview of the history of jazz and hip-hop, defining their key musical characteristics alongside sub- genres including popular, gangsta, and jazz rap. I then argue that Glasper re-works recordings of the jazz legend Miles Davis in an organic way so that they are not static snapshots nor samples nor remixes of his music; rather, they interact as a dialogue that allows Davis’ music to both shape and be shaped by the distinct voice and presence of Glasper. This allows Glasper’s album to speak not just of jazz as a phenomenon of the past, but of the ongoing relevance of Davis’ music today. Davis is therefore present both inside the music and outside of it as a leader, a unique position which allows Everything’s Beautiful to transcend the boundaries of both its time and genre.

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