Hidden Beach Recordings – Unwrapped Vol 1

UnwrappedHidden Beach
(Hidden Beach – 2001)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.

This is the latest offering from the record company that brings you both Jill Scott and Brenda Russell, one a diva of hip-hop soul and the other a diva of jazz. A lot of folks have tried mixing hip-hop with jazz (Guru, Jimmy Sommers) with varied results, but Hidden Beach has a new twist here and I think it’s right on the mark. Instead of trying to mix the genres artistically, they used jazz artists to perform renditions of popular hip-hop songs.

The old-line jazzers will not be offended by the modern lyrics because they are not there, only the grooves. The young jazzers that like hip-hop will love the balance, and the hip-hop folks that DON’T listen to jazz will hear these (known) songs on the air and listen to them as another remix… exposing them to jazz. As time progresses, we need to bring in new jazz listeners or the average age will soon match the retirement age and jazz will become history… Can’t have that!

The CD itself is bamming! I particularly like the remakes of the outrageous hip-hop combo Outkast hits Ms. Jackson and So Fresh So Clean. There are other songs that were popularized by artists like Jill Scott (of course), M&M, Tupak Shakur, Mystical and others. Fortunately, you don’t have to have ANY idea who these artists are to enjoy the CD because the tracks are performed by the likes of Patrice Rushen, Paul Jackson, Jr., Everett Harp and HBR’s own Mike Phillips.

I recommend this CD from two levels… first because I like it. Secondly because it gives listeners of very different genres a chance to experience the other in a way that may actually work. I don’t imagine and old-line jazzer listening to the original version of I Get Around, but he may well appreciate this version. Likewise, your average hip-hop afficianado would not normally be listening to Paul Jackson Jr. or Patrice, but here are a few tracks where they undoubtedly will. Bravo to Hidden Beach and Executive Producers Steve McKeever and Tony Joseph for their foresight and daring in putting this together.