About a month ago, I penned an article discussing my new found appreciation for music outside of Hip Hop thanks to hearing Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. Its beautiful melodies and content shook me out of my stubborn “Hip Hop or die” mentality, forcing me to realize that other music exists. Ugh, still feels weird saying it.
My biggest deduction from that transformative experience wasn’t necessarily awakening to other genres, but genuinely grasping the importance of inter-genre influences. In the aforementioned article, I discussed how my initial Bon Iver appreciation extended from my Kanye adoration, since he frequently collaborates with Bon Iver, and cites them as an influence. If Kanye respects someone, then maybe I should wake up and respect them too. Now, nothing holds a candle to Hip Hop (well, maybe Marvin Gaye), but my enlightened musical thinking has widened my listening parameters, forcing me to explore further.
James Blake is a White, English musician with a squeaky clean image. His appearance suggests that he doesn’t belong in the Rap world. His music and collaborations beg to differ. Known for his acute ear and transcendent musical appreciation, coupled with Hip Hop’s progressive trajectory, James Blake has developed into a quasi Hip Hop fixture. Sought after for his enticing production, Blake is contributing to my beloved genre’s evolution. The irony is not lost on me. Artists like Chance The Rapper and Vince Staples have collaborated with Blake, and the results are equally powerful and beautiful.
Check out some James Blake x Hip Hop collaborations (as a singer, producer and editor) that might enlighten you like they did me:
“Life Round Here” by James Blake featuring Chance The Rapper
“Timeless” by James Blake featuring Vince Staples
“Every Day I Ran” by James Blake (Big Boi sample)
“RPG” by James Blake and Trim
“The Catch Up” by Drake featuring James Blake
“Forward” by Beyoncé featuring James Blake
“White Ferrari” by Frank Ocean featuring James Blake
“the ends” by Travis Scott (edited by James Blake)
“Big Time” by Vince Staples (James Blake production)