V/A - Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow the Leader re-imagined as Jazz by Jonathan Hay, Benny Reid and Mike Smith (LP)
Re-imagined instrumentals of the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Follow the Leader album from Eric B. & Rakim. Endorsed and fully supported by Eric B. & Rakim.
Jonathan Hay, Benny Reid, and Mike Smith had numerous discussions on how to respectfully, faithfully, and creatively re-imagine Eric B. & Rakim’s classic 1988 album, Follow the Leader. The difficulty was twofold. One, Follow the Leader is a revered and iconic hip-hop album and had to reflect its adoration. Two, how can it be translated to a jazz style, especially omitting the centerpiece, Rakim’s voice? Reid (lead instrumentalist – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, bari saxophone, flute) and Hay’s (producer) initial strategy of replaying Rakim’s extended, rhythmically intricate rap verses organically morphed into a more improvised, classic jazz style. The emcee vocal style and flow along with Eric B.’s through-composed instrumentals, served as a model for Hay, Reid, Smith and musician Mani Ajami to draw inspiration.