True hip-hop has long had an affair with classical music, though indirectly. The best producers have used booming strings and brass to add a sense of melodrama and impending doom to classic boom-bap beats. Broward duo Black Violin has gone a step further.
Members Kev Marcus and Wil B. studied classical strings throughout childhood and then as part of Dillard High School's performing arts program. They partnered during their college years, cribbed the name from an album by jazz violinist Stuff Smith, and worked at making violin music hip for their generation. As Black Violin, Kev and Wil B. combine classical and jazz with straight-up hip-hop, often appearing alongside a breakbeat-spinning DJ while performing live renditions of the instrumentals from hip-hop classics. The group has performed with Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Akon, and even the Wu-Tang Clan.
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Plus Black Violin might be the only local group that cites equal influence from Nas and Shostakovich.