On March 30th Blue Lab Beats dropped their debut Album Xover. A UK jazz and hip-hop infused production, they show a range of music that definitely has been missing in UK music. This follows their amazing EP Freedom, which followed their EP Blue Skies.
Despite being sixteen full tracks, each song brings a sense of uniqueness and groove that makes the whole album an extremely worthwhile listen. This is only made better by the features with some of the UK’s finest including Moses Boyd, Tiana Major9 and Kojey Radical, they all somehow manage to infuse jazz with rap and soulful melodies smoothly.
With even London Mayor, Sadiq Khan showing support for the Black-British duo, the question still remains: what is the position of jazz influenced artists in today’s Black-British music? Can Black-British artists that infuse jazz into their music hit the mainstream?
I think that the answer is, yes. However, there needs to be a discussion on the history of the black- British community and Jazz.
Jazz was an import from America, a genre influenced by the slave spirituals of plantations, African soulful melodies and European classical, particularly having prominence in New Orleans which is often known as the home of Jazz. Due to these origins, Jazz has not be seen as something native to the UK. In fact, it was only in 1968 that the British Arts Council began to give funding to Jazz artists in the UK, but it now gives £300,000 annually to promoting and supporting UK jazz. The space to explore the genre of jazz is growing exponentially.
This means that the support and interest in British Jazz is growing, and there is space for young Black-British artists like Blue Lab Beats to present it to a new audience. Jazz started as a mix of genres, and so there is no reason why it cannot be mixed with Black-British genres to appeal today’s young, mainstream audience.
What Blue Lab Beats is working on is exciting and new, and in collaboration with artists such as Oscar Jerome, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia I am excited and hoping for a new British invasion, and one that is bringing jazz to the forefront.
Listen to Blue Lab Beats Xover EP below: