Since forming in 2010, Canadian outfit, BADBADNOTGOOD, has consistently exhibited more than just slight leanings toward the hip hop world through their music. After meeting in the jazz program at Toronto‘s Humber College, the trio began working on instrumental interpretations of cuts by artists like Gucci Mane and Odd Future, even performing them to the chagrin of their instructors, who were dismissive of their ventures. The Youtube release of an 8 1/2-minute “tribute to Odd Future and Bangladesh,” titled, The Odd Future Sessions Vol 1 in 2011 — a black and white video which saw them giving the material the live improv treatment — caught the eye of Tyler The Creator, prompting him to help bring shine a national spotlight on what these kids were doing. In fact, my first exposure with BBNG came via a video from later that year wherein Tyler actually sat in to jam with the group and, in 2014, the OF rapper even joined them on stage to perform at SXSW.
By the time that I saw the band at last year’s Project Pabst festival in Portland, Oregon, BADBADNOTGOOD already had 2 live albums and 3 studio albums of their own under their belt, and were right on the heels of Sour Harvest, their collaborative effort with Ghostface Killah. Unfortunately, although Ghostface was supposed to perform with BBNG at that show, he stood them up, leaving the group in the uncomfortable position of trying to appease a disappointed crowd, while continuing to suggest that it was possible that Wu Tang‘s most consistent member might actually still arrive, at some point — that didn’t happen. Objectively speaking, if the idea of the missing frontman hadn’t been looming over the crowd, the show would have actually been considered pretty great. One figure that they did bring onstage with them that night was saxophonist, Leland Whitty, who appeared on Sour Harvest, as well as their previous albums, with the exception of their debut, BBNG, which was recorded as a trio during a 3-hour session. When their latest critically acclaimed LP, IV hit the shelves this July, Whitty had stepped up the ranks from his role as a featured/touring musician with the group to being an official full fledged member contributing not only his sax, but guitar, vibraphone, clarinet, synth, violin, and flute.
IV follows the pattern of consisting entirely of completely original material that was introduced with their last release — the first 2 albums featured a number of hip hop covers mixed in. One of BBNG‘s strength is their desire to push themselves and the genre into new territory, and one thing that helps set IV apart from the instrumental LP that preceded it is the addition of featured vocalists like Chicago rapper, Mick Jenkins and Future Islands frontman, Sam Herring. While they formed with the standard live setup of Matthew Tavares on keys, bassist Chester Hansen, and Alexander Sowinski behind the drumkit, all 4 current members are multi-instrumentalists, in one degree or another; an advantaged they’ve fully utilized through the various textures and styles that their most recent work is comprised of.
Today the 4-piece is sharing the Fantavious Fritz-directed video for their latest single, “Lavendar.” The track features Haitian-Canadian DJ/producer, Kaytranada, who appears in the video in the role of a miniature, holographic “phantom” summoned into an deadly game of Dungeons & Dragons being played by the band members and headed by a twisted, unsettling dungeon master who has chained all of their legs all to the table. Check it out below.