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ISWHAT?!

iswhat2013

The Cincinnati duo probably knew taking the name Iswhat?! would make people ask lots of questions over their chosen name. And I have to admit that the group remains an enigma in this era of sharply defined boundaries.

A group that changes in shape, orbiting around core musicians (founders / players) MC Napoleon Maddox and saxophonist Jack Walker, Iswhat?! has been around since the mid-1990s. Their first album “You figure it out” (2004) – a sort of a spacio-temporal rendezvous between Charles Mingus and Public Enemy in a graffiti covered Harlem basement in Harlem – intrigued jazz fans aficionados as well as the hip-hop community. Two other disks (“The Life We Chose” in 2006 and “Big Appetite” in 2009) and several prestigious collaborations with (with the likes of) Archie Shepp, Chuck D (Public Enemy), DJ Spooky, Fat Jon (Five Deez) and DJ Spinna make it clear: Iswhat?! disregards categories to cultivate a polyvalent vision of music, a new blend of music beyond boundaries. The duo inherit the traditions of Great Black Music, like their forebears Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Stetsasonic, John Coltrane, The Last Poets, Doug E Fresh, Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron and Boogie Down Productions…

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