There’s a dichotomy to the existence and success of BADBADNOTGOOD that is ultimately at the core of what makes the band such a modern treasure. Of course there is the surface level collision of four young, white, classically trained jazz musicians – Matthew A. Tavares, Chester Hansen, Alexander Sowinski and Leland Whitty – collaborating with some of the rap world’s most hardened and fearsome performers. However, it’s also the head-butting and the solidifying of the classic and the contemporary worlds beyond those musical collisions too.
It was their classical music training, immaculate theoretical knowledge and pristine musical abilities that led them to be found creating instrumental jazz tracks covering Odd Future, but it was the contemporary world of which we live (and they operate) in that transcended those musical explorations beyond practice room larks. Through a YouTube video, a Bandcamp upload and a Twitter account, they soon found themselves contacted by Tyler, the Creator before going on to working with him. A contemporary example of which there seems to be an increasing amount of in recent years, of the jazz world shaking off accusations of stuffiness, preciousness and an antiquated and formulaic set of conventions.
In the ensuing years the band have continued to teeter this line between the classic and the contemporary, playing straight jazz one moment – as on their 2014 album ‘III’ – and pioneering and experimental hip-hop the next, á la their last LP, ‘Sour Soul’, a record which the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah could be found at the vocal helm, alongside hip-hop royalty like DOOM and Danny Brown. Outside of this, the group has also worked production and remixes for various artists, such as Rhianna, Drake, JJ Doom, Earl Sweatshirt, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Talib Kweli, Little Simz and a whole host more. In a further twist of expectation and convention, a group of very young men who were so inspired by hip-hop culture (drummer Sowinski was so taken with the story and concept of MF DOOM that he would himself wear a (pig) mask whilst playing in the early days, before he grew out of it and realised it wasn’t very ‘him’) that they sought to emulate it through the seemingly antithetical musical tools they had available to them, have, in the space of only a few years, become one of the go-to bands/production units in the entire genre.