Various Artists

The New Groove: The Blue Note Remix Project, Vol. 1

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One of many jazz-rap fusion projects of the mid-'90s, The New Groove found top hip-hop acts of the time -- including Diamond D., Guru, the Roots, and Spearhead -- remixing and revamping classic tracks by legendary jazz artists like Donald Byrd, Lonnie Smith, and Bobby Hutcherson. Though far from a novel concept even then, the album works better than most similar projects thanks to the talents of the parties involved. The Angel's version of Byrd's "Kofi," which features silky-smooth rhymes from up and coming female MC Mystic, proves one of the album's high points, as does DJ Smash's ultra-funky, violin-heavy update of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City." But almost all of the tracks work well, pointing out the direct lines connecting the groovy hipness of jazz with the best of modern hip-hop.

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