A freewheeling hip-hop trio, Iswhat?! focuses on live performance like the Roots, but instead of saluting rap forebears, seeks a connection with jazz sources. Based in Cincinnati, the group was formed by vocalist Napoleon Maddox, saxophonist Jack Walter, and bassist Matthew Anderson. The group has shared the stage with performers ranging from Mr. Dibbs to Big Daddy Kane to Kwame Turé, and released its first album, Landmines, in 1999. You Figure It Out... followed in 2003. In 2006, Iswhat?!, which by this time was mainly a duo, though Anderson as well as other guest musicians were still heavily involved, issued The Life We Chose.
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