This Just In: Kassa Overall’s Shades 3

This Just In is Jazz88’s weekly celebration of new releases. It hits the airwaves every Friday at noon and this week, we are diving into Kassa Overall’s latest mixtape, Shades 3. Kassa Overall is a drummer, producer and vocalist who refuses to water down any part of his skill set to fit into a single genre or a single job description. Although I’m certain it comes from years of trial and error, at this point, Overall can utilize his impressive array of skills to create new music from source material within his brain, his record collection, or his impressive rolodex of collaborators with a relaxed mastery that boggles my mind.

One of the avenues for Kassa Overall’s art has been a series of mixtapes where he supplements and reimagines pre-existing songs with new rhythmic textures, additional vocals, and interesting snippets from other media sources. That is a very fancy-jazz-turtleneck way of saying that the man made a mixtape. It’s just that most Grammy-nominated jazz drummers don’t make mixtapes. But Kassa does, and we’re better off for it. Mixtapes are good for any musical scene.

At the different summits of the mixtape prominence in hip-hop culture, they’ve served as a side conversation with your favorite artists, your favorite songs, and your favorite pieces of conversation from movies, TV shows, and the like. If you loved a 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne, or any other mixtape-era superstar, you were, at best, getting 50% of their vibe if you only grabbed the major label releases. The best mixtapes brought you closer to the superstars while introducing you to the up-and-comers. It was a vehicle to marry music discovery with familiarity that was a godsend for expanding the influence of hip-hop culture.

On Shades 3, I’m finding the same thing. Do I know the original “Mysterious Vibes” by The Blackbyrds? Yes I do. Have I pulled it up to listen in the last couple of years? No. Do I want to hear it rebuilt with the modern master Theo Croker floating on top and then go revisit the original? Absolutely.

The best mixtapes make the classics sound new again and make the new elements sound classic immediately. That’s precisely what Kassa Overall and his band of collaborators achieve on this one. Bravo. – Sean McPherson

Thanks for checking this new release out, and if you have music suggestions, contact me at sean@jazz88

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