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Jonathan Hay, Benny Reid, and Mike Smith had numerous discussions on how to respectfully, faithfully, and creatively re-imagine Eric B. & Rakim’s classic 1988 album, Follow the Leader. The difficulty was twofold. One, Follow the Leader is a revered and iconic hip-hop album and had to reflect its adoration. Two, how can it be translated to a jazz style, especially omitting the centerpiece, Rakim’s voice? Reid (lead instrumentalist – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, bari saxophone, flute) and Hay’s (producer) initial strategy of replaying Rakim’s extended, rhythmically intricate rap verses organically morphed into a more improvised, classic jazz style. The emcee vocal style and flow along with Eric B.’s through-composed instrumentals, served as a model for Hay, Reid, Smith and musician Mani Ajami to draw inspiration.
“Hearing the music faithfully arranged and re-recorded with the stellar group of musicians Jonathan Hay and Benny Reid brought together not only stays true to our original work, but elevates and highlights the core concepts we drew from 30 years ago,” Eric B. continued. “It really completes a full circle... We imitated jazz, and now jazz is imitating us.”
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Cat no: SAH001LP
Label: Hay, Reid & Smith
Info correct on: 16/12/2019