Pygmalion Festival Countdown: BadBadNotGood

Despite their name, BadBadNotGood are anything but.

In fact, this Canadian jazz quartet are one of the most creative and exciting new talents out of Toronto in the past few years. They’re also one of my personal favorite groups out right now, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard that they were playing the Pygmalion Festival this year. Fresh off the release of their hot new LP, IV, in July, BadBadNotGood have been touring the world, and finally made their way to Champaign for their show at the Pygmalion Main Stage on September 22nd.


At first glance, a Canadian jazz quartet doesn’t seem like anything special. Jazz as a genre has been fading out of popularity for the past few decades. However, when you learn that BadBadNotGood’s first 2 albums were almost entirely jazz interpretations of popular hip hop and rap songs, it makes their appeal much clearer. The quartet’s appreciation for hip hop is what separates them from their contemporaries and defines their unique sound. The group’s four members, Matthew Tavares on keys, Alex Sowinski on drums, Chester Hansen on bass, and Leland Whitty on saxophone, all studied jazz in college, so their skill is undeniable, but they also grew up listening to and loving hip hop music, and the mutual respect of these two makes their sound so fresh and innovative.

Some of BadBadNotGood’s early success can be credited to Tyler, the Creator, who heard their music and shared videos of their jam session with him rapping while the group freestyled instrumentals. The group’s collaborative project with Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan also gave them exposure early on. Recently, they have made even bigger waves with their stellar production credits, including the most recent one on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., by coproducing the song “Lust”. But my favorites are their solo cuts, like “In Your Eyes (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson)”, “Velvet”, and “CS60”.

Despite their busy year so far, BadBadNotGood show no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and I predict that this is just the beginning of their journey. After all, they’re all still in their mid-20s. If you want to see the creative force in action, I’d highly recommend coming out to the Pygmalion Festival this year for their set next week. You won’t regret it.

Buy tickets here:

Written by: Nikhil Mehta

About Nikhil Mehta

Nikhil Mehta was born and raised in Fremont, California, a suburb of the Bay Area, but discovered his love of music from the internet. Inspired by the pure expression, creativity, and perspective of acts like Odd Future, Childish Gambino, Danny Brown, and Flying Lotus, Nikhil's passion for finding the coolest new music was born. After making the move to Champaign, he found himself surrounded by a thriving scene of artists and creatives that didn't exist in Fremont, and eagerly took his place within as a host of "Can I Kick It". Besides his music obsession, Nikhil enjoys longboarding around campus, rewatching Netflix shows, and climbing trees.

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