Despite getting the highly successful collaboration with Damian Marley in 2010, fans have waited a good bit for a new solo album from Nasir Jones. Life is Good, a personal album with overt references to his split with Kelis, may or may not continue his platinum-selling streak — but it’s a return to form either way.
With his self-released album Monrovia Suite, multi-instrumentalist Christopher Cavaliere presents a tightly wound collection of worldly instrumental tracks. Accessible yet avant garde, the album exudes a patience and grace towards composition that may be best demonstrated by those schooled in jazz and classical music.
The young virtuoso, hailing from Bridgeport, Connecticut, has a knack for turning his solo routine into a swelling symphonic experience. In the same style as Frédéric Chopin and other great composers, Cavaliere has titled his songs as études. It’s a compelling choice warranted by the album’s dynamic lushness, timeless guitar intercessions, and rhythmic complexity. The songs can be heard as studies in the sense of composition, arrangement, and tone. For listeners, it’s a helpful way to frame the album, imagining the songs more like movements or motifs in the traditional classical sense.
DJ Rob Swift is one of the premier turntablists scratching and mixing today. His most recent album, The Architect, explores a distinctly classical sound — a genre totally foreign to Swift until recently. After his girlfriend turned him onto Frédéric Chopin, Swift immersed himself in the culture of classical music, and he soon found himself bridging the gap between the centuries-old compositions and his modern-day craft. Swift penned this piece for ALARM explaining the intersections of classical and hip hop in his own music.
My Introduction to Classical Music by Rob Swift
The genre of classical music has helped me reinvent my approach to making turntable music! I know it sounds sort of odd coming from a hip-hop DJ, but it’s true. When you think about it, we all have some sort of connection to classical music, whether it was learning about it in music class as a child or listening to it in movies and commercials. At one point or another, you’ve been touched by classical compositions from the likes of Frédéic Chopin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, my personal favorite composers!