A few weeks back, Durham-based, jazz-inspired hip hop group The Beast teamed up with Grammy-nominated jazz singer and Durham favorite daughter Nnenna Freelon for a live performance at Pure Sound Studios downtown to benefit the Durham Arts Council.
The Beast -- which includes emcee Pierce Freelon, daughter of Nnenna and renowned architect Phil Freelon -- has completed mixing the performance and have released it as an EP available for digital download.
It's their second EP, and it's free -- though an online donation to the Durham Arts Council is strongly encouraged. Get the album and make a donation from their web site.
The Beast is currently working on their feature-length first album release. More information on the group follows below the jump.
When emcee Pierce Freelon (the son of 6-time Grammy nominee, Nnenna Freelon) joined his high school buddy Stephen Coffman, bass phenom Peter Kimosh and 3-time ASCAP Young Jazz Composer's Award-winner, pianist Eric Hirsh for a jam session, no one was prepared for what was to come. During their first time playing together, the quartet discovered an almost clairvoyant level of musical communication, which resulted in the creation of genre-bending songs that have been praised as, "eclectic and intricate Hip-Hop shot through with soul and Afrocuban influences (Grayson Currin, The Independent Weekly)."
For two years, The Beast has made an impact on both local and national scenes with their high-energy live show. They have appeared NPR, CBS News, and as an opening act for one of their inspirations, The Foreign Exchange. The Beast's critically acclaimed debut EP, “Belly” was released in September 2008. They are releasing "Catalyst" (a free EP for digital download on their website, www.thebeastmusic.com) in June of 2009. The Beast is currently in the studio working on their full-length album.
The Beast is also dedicated to education and cultural outreach, as the group devotes time and energy to developing workshops on creativity, improvisation, and the history of African-American music. Thus far, they have given clinics to children and college students from New York to Atlanta.