Kassa Overall is leaving his jazzy mark on some of your most-loved/most-hated rap songs.
Musician Kassa Overall just released his latest project Drake It Till You Make It, a four-track mixtape of reworked rap favorites with his own jazz twist. Whether you love or hate the originals, it doesn’t matter; you may not even recognize them.
Best known for playing on Late Night with Steven Colbert, his work with Francis and the Lights, and Theo Crocker, the project stands as a testament to Kassa’s craft. His commitment to fusing jazz and hip-hop aligns him with the likes of Robert Glasper, but with a bit of syncopated J Dilla-eletro flair.
For the hip-hop heads conflicted on Drake’s pop-adjacent decade-long rap reign, and jazz enthusiasts not so fond of mainstream rap, Kassa’s EP— a cover of Drake‘s “God Plan” and “Passionfruit,” Snoop Dogg‘s “Sensual Seduction,” and Kanye West’s “Say You Will”—proffers an alternative to temporarily appease both palettes.
Kassa talked with Okaplayer on the inspiration behind the project.
His Drake reference is less of a harsh criticism and more so wholistic musical and cultural commentary. “Does this statement equate Drake with fake? Not exactly,” he says. “Does the debate on whether Drake is “fake” or not contribute to his seemingly permanent place in the poposphere? Yes. From his beginnings as a child actor, to his relatively recent controversy over having a ghostwriter , detractors continuously attempted to use these questions of validity to render his creations illegitimate. However, the statistics seem to show that no one cares. If anything, this extra attention only adds perspective to his persona in the public eye.”
On covering Snoop Dogg‘s 2007 song, “Sensual Seduction,” Kassa says he took what he considers to be a “modern day love song” and had Theo Croker play Snoop’s part on trumpet. “This was a lesson for the jazz heads on how much content could really be contained in a simple repetitive melody,” he added.
On covering “Passionfruit,” a track off Drake’s 2017 album More Life, Kassa argues this is the “the strongest on the project.” He continues, “[it] really contained in itself all of the elements that define the EP as a whole. A free drum solo over the keyboard ostinato. A live jazz trio flowing between the original dance rhythm, swing feel and a quasi trap groove featuring piano solos by 19 year old piano virtuoso Julius Rodriguez. He is currently attending Juilliard and performing with incredible established artists in his spare time.”
Listen to Kassa Overall’s Drake It Till You Make It mixtape below:
Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani