An interesting early anecdote in BADBADNOTGOOD’s career begins with the then trio’s Humber College jazz instructors questioning the musical value of their jazz cover of Odd Future’s AssMilk. It ends with the band uploading the performance online, going viral and launching a career that has seen them open for revered composer Roy Ayers, back Frank Ocean and collaborate with Ghostface Killah on 2015’s Sour Soul.
Jazz excursions into hip-hop, and vice versa, have produced hugely innovative offerings over the last roughly 30 years (Guru, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington). Jazz purists’ prickliness over said departures has done much to further that innovation, driving artists to get ballsier in their fuck-you to the establishment.
While BBNG have always had those balls on their side, IV finds the band relying less on the inherent adventurousness of pairing jazz with covers of Waka Flocka Flame or Gucci Mane and more on their monstrous chops and the integrity of their own musical ideas.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the addition of saxophonist Leland Whitty. An expressive, expansive soloist, he adds dramatic thrust to tracks that feature solid grooves, a clear maturation of the sound showcased on the band’s previous record, III.
But while IV shows a progression, it lacks the progressiveness that would keep BBNG in a league with their aforementioned jazz/hip-hop predecessors and peers. However admirably, it stays in its own lane.
Guest vocalists Sam Herring (Time Moves Slow) and Toronto’s Charlotte Day Wilson (In Your Eyes) add soulful ruminations to the instrumental proceedings, while Colin Stetson’s cyclonic horns on Confessions Pt. II are a mindblower.
Top track: Confessions Pt. II
BADBADNOTGOOD play WayHome on July 23. See listing.