It’s easy to assume Hip Hop artists name checking Miles Davis and other Jazz greats ended in the ‘90’s when A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz” or Gangstarr’s “Jazz Thing” would occasionally pop up on a Top-40 playlist. Part of that assumption is due to the fact that, aside from mainstream music critics short-lived fawning over the likes of Digable Planets, we usually expect Jazz-influenced works to come from the likes of Madlib, not Roc-A-Fella affiliates.
But a lot has changed since the days of Dame Dash showering rented video chicks with Cristal. And to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ acclaimed fusion work, Bitches Brew, Sony put Miles’ masters in the hands of frequent DD172 collaborators Ski Beatz and Nesby Phips. So how did the two guys most recently found in the production credits of the perpetually blunted Curren$y’s Pilot Talk end up getting the blessing from Davis’ estate? Like many Jazz related stories, the spirit of improvisation sparked it.
“I was in another studio with Big Chop, and as soon as he let me hear it, I asked, ‘Shit, you want me to right to it now?’” Phips recounted. “It was definitely the spirit of improvisation, because once I got in there, the format just came to me, like ‘Boom!’”
While previous artists dropped the ball, Nesby and Ski quickly turned what was initially only supposed to be a reinterpretation of two songs—“Bitches Brew” and “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down”—into a full-length project.
“That was more than they bargained for,” Phips said. “Of course, there are nothing but suits in those offices, so we wowed them with what we did. They had to regroup, and they’ll probably have five more meetings on how they’re gonna market it.”
The pair are about five or six songs away from completing the project, which is tentatively being called “Miles Ahead,” and Trademark and Smoke DZA are just a few of the people scheduled to make appearances. Having been given approval from Davis’ estate as well as access to all 53 albums in the catalogue, Phips counts this as one of his biggest works to date.
“Honestly, that’s a bigger accomplishment to me than anything right now,” he said. “We were just tinkering around, and now this whole project—possibly a multi-million dollar project—is about to happen.”