MUSIC: Cats and Rappers

Three CDs, including Digable Planets' sophomore effort, show that jazz-influenced hip-hop is pop's most dynamic genre

The union of hip-hop and jazz has gone from oddity to commodity in just one year. In 1993 the rap trio Digable Planets released its jazzy, idiosyncratic debut album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space); since then the record has sold more than 500,000 copies and won a Grammy as well as two naacp Image Awards, and other jazz-rap bands, like US 3, have followed in Planets' wake. Meanwhile, some of the most respected musicians in jazz -- from Harvard summa cum laude saxophonist Joshua Redman to veteran trumpeter Lester Bowie -- have recorded songs combining jazz with hip-hop....

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