A Violinist & Violist Are Combining Hip-Hop & Classical in Amazing Ways (Audio)

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Throughout history, musical worlds have always collided as cultures and influences blend together to form new and exciting sounds. Now, with the digital era, the bridging of worlds has become far more frequent, and the resulting amalgamations continue to impress with ingenuity and creativity abounding. Violinist Kevin Sylvester and violist Wilner Baptiste embody a distinct musical amalgam whose ensuing musical repertoire is bringing together fans of two musical words who most would argue are vastly different – Classical music and Hip-Hop. However, as a recent NPR report explains, the combination is far more appealing than strident fans of either realm may realize.

Performing as the duo Black Violin, Baptiste and Sylvester are two African-Americans trained in Classical music but deeply entwined with the Hip-Hop generation. The two met in Florida as high-school students and are celebrating the release of their aptly titled LP, Stereotypes. By the most conservative definitions, their music is considered Classical but their clever rhythmic approaches to the centuries-old genre are what have introduced them to a cross-section of music fans that include the most die-hard of Heads. On today’s Morning Edition, the two share their artistic visions with NPR’s Lindsay Totty and it’s made clear quite quickly that the two share a passionate love for both styles. As Sylvester shares, “To me, Bach is the hardest thing you can play, because he exposes everything about you. He exposes your weaknesses and makes you work harder…So it’s the same kind of thing with Hip-Hop, It’s just like, I need Grandmaster Flash to DJ my party. You know, hip-hop and classical, in a lot of ways, are both party music for different eras.”

To hear a sampling of the two convention-busting musicians, listen to NPR’s “With ‘Stereotypes,’ A Duo Raised On Hip-Hop And Classical Has It Both Ways” in its entirety here. Their ingenuity has a visual component in their latest music video for “Stereotypes,” the lead single and title track from their latest album which will be released September 18 and features Pharoahe Monch, Melanie Fiona, Robert Glasper, and more.

Related: DJ Premier teams up with Nas and The Berklee Symphony Orchestra to create the Classical music/Hip-Hop track, Re: Generation.