Words by Megan Ambers

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It was a one night only treat at the Kennedy Center in D.C., when pianist Jason Moran and legendary rapper Q-Tip performed a musical collaboration on Friday. Both named Artistic Directors for the Center, the pair performed in the newly renovated Terrace Theater to commemorate the first night of the Hip-Hop program there.

In May of this year, the Performing Arts Center announced that it has renewed its contract with Moran as the artistic director for Jazz. Q-Tip became the center’s first artistic director for Hip-Hop culture last year, partially due to Moran’s advocacy. “Tip’s and my first conversation was around what relationship jazz has to hip-hop, what they mean to each other as aging forms of art,” Moran explained during an interview with the New York Times.


Q-Tip, a founding member of A Tribe Called Quest, one of Hip-Hop’s pioneering rap groups, isn’t a stranger to Jazz music. Incorporating the sounds of Jazz instruments with afrocentrism lyrics, ATCQ along with De La Soul, and others pioneered the Jazz Rap genre.

After paying a tribute to DJ Kool Herc, Q-Tip joined Moran with a collaborative rendition of Jazz legend, John Coltrane’sGiant Steps”. But not before Moran played his famous cover of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock”, adding a jazz flavor to the hit song. The pair then teamed up for ACTQ’s first hit, “Bonita Applebum” from their People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm album.