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ENSEMBLE MIK NAWOOJ: BOOM BAP SYMPHONY EPIPHANY

03.20.18
EMN
DigBoston

“With machete-sharp vocalists fronting a miniature orchestra tuned by a maestro with a passion for boom bap, they represent a distinct future for the genre that diehards of all stripes should be thoroughly excited for”

“Our mission is to create concert music that’s free from Western European aesthetics and reflective of the multiple perspectives which the modern world is comprised of. We feel very much in tune with larger changes that are similar in ethos. There are classically trained chefs who open up burger shops and BBQ joints, graffiti/street artists who are being accepted into the so-called “high art” world. … Perhaps now we are generating a new world by means of method sampling.”

By Chris Faraone

Few things sour hip-hop for me quite like when a great MC who made their career riding loops decides out of nowhere to mess with live instrumentation. Maybe they are distancing themselves from samples for an album, or perhaps they learned to play something on their own, but either way it rarely works.

On the other hand, I have always loved groups that approach things organically from day one. Well beyond the Roots, from classic Boston acts like Audible Mainframe to those rocking in other throes, these serious musicians have actually kept me interested in hip-hop when cheap mainstream variations started boring me throughout the years.

While there’s some of that excitement brewing around the distinctive setup of Ensemble Mik Nawooj, on another hand the Bay Area group is a new beast entirely. More like stylistic cousins to the rock- and jazz-inspired outfits I have long admired, their classical hue is unique, but also far more honed and confident than anything that diehards would consider rude experimentation. With machete-sharp vocalists fronting a miniature orchestra tuned by a maestro with a passion for boom bap, they represent a distinct future for the genre that diehards of all stripes should be thoroughly excited for.

We wanted to know more about the EMN process and approach, and so we spoke with composer JooWan Kim (JWK), co-producer and musician Christopher Nicholas (CN), and MCs Sandman (S) and Do D.A.T. (DAT) ahead of their Thursday performance at Berklee—where, it so happens, Chris and JooWan cut their teeth as students and musicians more than a decade ago.

Read the interview.