Kassa Overall is a Grammy-nominated musician, emcee, singer, producer, and drummer who melds avant-garde experimentation with hip-hop production to tilt the nexus of jazz and rap in unmapped directions.Artist Bio
To Kassa Overall, Detroit is a city that represents both source and absence. Overall’s father, Charles, moved away from Ecorse, a steel town just south of Detroit, in his twenties, and never returned, cutting ties with family and traversing the country, eventually settling in Seattle. Much has been made about the Great Migration of African Americans who turned away from the South toward higher-paying jobs in more tolerant northern cities. But there were other, smaller migratory waves of people who decided to leave northern cities such as Detroit, disillusioned by racism and the consequences of white flight and subsequent economic collapse, in search of a better life elsewhere. Overall has spent little time in Detroit and has little contact with his family members in the region. Yet he has always wanted to connect with his people. In a way, he has. It is significant that several of his greatest musical influences have hailed from the Detroit metro area, including the pianist Geri Allen, with whom Overall played for six years, and the drummer Elvin Jones, who became one of Overall’s earliest mentors. Detroit is also the home of Karriem Riggins, the drummer-producer who was one of the early innovators of the intersection of jazz and hip hop, as well as J Dilla, the hip-hop producer who, as Dan Charnas’s recent biography illustrates, reinvented rhythm with non-quantized electronic drum patterns.
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Kassa Overall is a Grammy-nominated musician, emcee, singer, producer, and drummer who melds avant-garde experimentation with hip-hop production techniques to tilt the nexus of jazz and rap in unmapped directions, reflecting a panoramic musical background from West Coast G-funk to the sounds of the New York underground. In the past two years, Overall has released four critically acclaimed projects: I THINK I’M GOOD (on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings imprint), Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz, SHADES OF FLU and SHADES OF FLU 2, gathering support from artistic visionaries including Virgil Abloh and Thom Yorke. Whatever the experiment, Overall remains faithful to the pocket of jazz drums in the tradition of his mentors, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, and Billy Hart, with whom he studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Overall has been working at the forefront of New York City’s jazz scene for two decades, touring and recording with artists as varied as Geri Allen, Steve Coleman, Francis and the Lights, Yoko Ono, Peter Evans, Carmen Lundy, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Theo Croker, and Gary Bartz. As a modern musical polymath, his credits range from featured artist to drummer, producer, and composer.