Arts Desk

One Track Mind: Yusef, Jazz & The Joint Forces

Standout Track: No. 2, “Show Ya LOV3,” a spirited blend of wind instruments, floating piano keys, and deep bass stabs on which producer-rapper Yusef sounds unusually assured for a hyphenate MC. “A producer on some lyrical fly shit, we wise men,” rhymes Yusef, and soon he’s dropping in clips of Steve Harvey and Bernie Mac from the movie The Original Kings of Comedy. When the samples fade, Yusef shares some tough love for the president. “I don’t rock with politics, Barack, I’m not sure of him/He teamed up with banks, and now we’re hungering for more from him.”

Musical Motivation: Why such a sharp-elbowed message? “I wanted to write this album as honestly as possible,” says Yusef, whose debut album, Jazz & The Joint Forces, is out this week. “I wanted to give a commentary that they might not hear elsewhere. This is life from my viewpoint.” He constructed the beat of “Show Ya LOV3” mostly from samples—a showy move meant to build excitement for the rest of the album.

Art Aleck: Yusef spent five years assembling Jazz & The Joint Forces. The producer says he wanted a project that fused the improvisational elements of jazz with hip-hop’s grittiness. “I just wanted to create something fresh and new, something you can listen to in a jazz lounge that still has a hip-hop element,” he says. That sort of fusion isn’t new, but Yusef hopes people pay attention anyway. “I gave a lot of myself,” he says. “I’m a very able producer, and I’m here to make quality music and not compromise.”

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