Very few things satisfy quite like the seamless fusion of jazz and hip hop, when swirling sax slivers around silken beats, and the trumpets get a bit involved. Kassa Overall, the supreme beatsmith and bandleader hailing from Seattle, understands this perfectly. He spent the majority of the noughties studying jazz at Oberlin and playing drums with big jazz names, but always harboured a hunger to produce hip-hop.
Animals is Kassa’s third album, his first with Warp, and sees these influences stitched together perfectly on one complete patchwork. All jazz drama and velveteen underground rap, Animals is a glittering record also littered by features from top names in both fields. A red-eyed Danny Brown verse ushers in ‘Clock Ticking’, whilst some lively interplay between West Coast royalty Lil B and Shabazz Palaces on closer ‘Going Up’ is just heavenly.
The record’s biggest tune, however, comes when Kassa keeps the mic to himself on ‘Ready to Ball’. A jazz-rap zinger, full of vigour and vim and verve, the combination of pitched-up Quasimoto-style adlibs and spiralling piano is as perfect a cocktail as you’ll taste all year. Kassa finds himself in a bind trying to look after himself financially and mentally, at the same time, but on this track, and indeed the rest of Animals, these anxieties are cathartically transformed into something far more powerful.
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