Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kennedy Center Honors... Herbie Hancock: Snoop Dogg - "Gin & Juice" (Cantaloupe Island)


Jazz-Funk pianist Herbie Hancock is quite arguably the Godfather of Hip-Hop; his 1983 Electro-Funk composition "Rockit" is oftentimes cited as an early sonic blueprint for the then budding genre. I can still vividly remember the first time I heard Hancock's music, on an RS 500 [Greatest Songs of All Time] sampler CD around the age of 12-15. It was "Watermelon Man" from his sprawling four-track Head Hunters album (1973) assisted by back-up The Headhunters; more or less a progressive and slowly deconstructing re-make of Herbie Hancock's own 1962 composition, which was originally inspired by "the cry of the watermelon man making the rounds through the back streets and alleys of Chicago. The wheels of his wagon beat out the rhythm on the cobble stones." President Obama & The First Lady amongst DC's finest inducted Herbie Hancock, Martina Arroyo, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine, and Carlos Santana at the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors back on December 8th (my birthday!) World-renowned rapper, honorary pimp, and common house-hold entrepreneur Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion aka Snoopzilla donned a classic suit & tie ensemble to further honor Hancock in front of a bunch of awkwardly excited political delegates. Snoop Dogg and a four-piece Smooth Jazz-Fusion band proceeded to perform a live Hancock-indebted mash-up: "Gin & Juice" inter-woven with US3's 1993 Jazz-Rap mega-hit "Cantaloop," which famously sampled Herbie Hancock's own "Cantaloupe Island" (1964). The entire genre-blending performance can more or less be summed up by Snoop Dogg's closing remark, "Thank you for creating Hip-Hop. Hancock is supposedly working on some sort of mysterious new project along with Brain Feeder label-head Flying Lotus and modern day Jazz-Fusion bassist Thundercat, while further release details are currently unknown.

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