"The Third Way (Hand On The Torch Vol II)"
The Third Way is a colorful and joyous celebration of the various strands of African-American musical tradition, drawing alternately on classic hip hop, reggae, Latin jazz, bebop, and big band sounds, and it’s a pure blast from start to finish.
The world of hip-hop has changed radically in the last 20 years but it’s that very distance that makes this album sound not so much like a blast from the past in terms of style, but rather a breath of fresh air.
A fine jazz-rap sequel to the original, arriving 20 years after the first… superb, thoughtful production…
These 14 tracks serve as a passage way to better days of yore when hip hop was done for fun, not profit.
The results are at times simply spectacular. Geoff Wilkinson and “The Third Way” hit all the right notes.
Wilkinson's production is silky tight, a sparkling, fresh melding of old school jazz with modern day perspectives.
Us3 has brought jazz back to the forefront of lyricism and Hip-Hop, with a deep emphasis on the culture that makes them who they are.
"Lie, Cheat & Steal"
Thought provoking, and toe tapping, Lie, Cheat & Steal is the kind of hip-hop album that's a throwback to when the music could make your body move while the lyrics simultaneously made you think. It's something very few can accomplish, but Us3 did to perfection with this.
Us3 has that funky edge that I'll always fully endorse, and if they continue to snag primetime talent to highlight their sheer musicality and DJ-ing prowess (courtesy of DJ First rate) there's no reason there can't be eight or eighteen more albums of the same quality.
For decades artists have flirted with the idea of fusing jazz with hip hop, but nobody has ever quite matched the creative innovation of producer Geoff Wilkinson.
Lie, Cheat & Steal is not just a solid hip-hop album featuring two lyricists who are at the top of their game, it's a series of devastating jackhammer blows to a power structure that has been kicking in our collective faces for the past decade.
Lie, Cheat & Steal is a mobile for the young, pissed-off have-nots.
Hiphop Jazz group Us3 do it big. Word up UK.
5th best hip-hop album of 2011
"stop. think. run"
Its music that pulls you into a jazzy, soulful, cool mood, pulling you through all of the ups and downs of Yung and Sene while constantly invigorating and refreshing you. This is music for the blue note in us all.
Wilkinson laces the album with a plethora of organic instrumental sounds which impart an overt jazzy quality to nearly every track. An entire review could be dedicated solely to the instrumental aspect of this album, but for the sake of time let’s just leave it at this: stop. think. run. is organic jazz hip hop at its finest; point blank; period.
Each track (all produced by Wilkinson himself) is crafted so uniquely that though they can bear resemblances, no two sound alike. Altogether, stop. think. run. is an ensemble which draws upon some of the finest instrumentation heard in Hip Hop recently – if not ever – along with rhymes suited to all occasions whether it’s thought-provocation, celebrating or simply mellowing out.
At the end of the day, it’s just about good music, and that’s what you get with Us3.
most artists that debuted around the same time have long since lost
their shit, Geoff Wilkinson and company keep coming back bigger and
www.tlchicken.com August 2007
first cut “Say You Belong To Me” is better than just about every
R&B joint getting spins today. With “Man On Top” and “ABC” Us3
shows their unique style. While blending jazz and hip hop producer
Geoff Wilkinson compromises neither. Both tracks feature jazz
arrangements that could easily stand on their own, or be easily paired
with jazz vocals. I was really diggin’ how the sax solo on ABC gives
way to some well-done turntablism... Say What!? Is the perfect
soundtrack to your next barbecue.”
www.okayplayer.com July 2007
big-band to free-form jazz, Staxy R&B to swing-combo style, Say
What!? illuminates virtually every jazz hue, and tosses in the
occasional Latin flair or Middle Eastern tinge to highlight the mix.
The music is superb... This set takes Wilkinson to a whole new level.”
All Music Guide July 2007
you love good jazz, intelligent rap and solid R&B vocals this is
for you, but be prepared to pay attention, there is one hell of a lot
going on here, and it’s all good”
Seatwave July 2007
“Good cool club music that has a slew of phat grooves and thick rhythms. You know you want to dance to it!”
www.smother.net July 2007
“Say You Belong To Me” is the kind of song which, with a decent push, would be all over the radio this summer.
www.cdtimes.com June 2007
producer Geoff Wilkinson has conjured up another masterpiece. Get this
disc ‘cause they are better than ever, ya heard!?”
Swank June 2007
“grittier jazz and funk influences”
Blowback June 2007
“there’s going to be a lot of folks reassessing Us3 this year. Time to listen up.”
Fly June 2007
“Infectious and slick”
The Crac June 2007
“21st century jazz & hip-hop”
Urban Junkies April 2007
new Us3 is one of the best things that Geoff Wilkinson has done and
that's saying something! It'll be the opener on next week's show’
Jon Cavanagh - BBC Radio Scotland April 2007
years on from Cantaloop and Geoff Wilkinson is still a master in the
art of producing jazz-centred hip hop that combines a heavy emphasis on
musicality with an energetic danceable funk."
Notion July 2006
"Album number five and the originality isn't wearing off anytime soon,
making the listeners the main beneficiaries. From jazz to hip hop via
the influences of a world of music, Us3 are still as on-the-button as
they ever were."
DJ magazine May 2006
"It is very often the case that sensationalist bands will outsell more
talented and groundbreaking ones by many times, and that is certainly
the case here. In terms of the music alone, Us3 are certainly musically
far superior to the likes of Fiddy or Eminem, but they don't talk shit
about guns and they don't have fake prison tattoos. Don't believe the
hype, Schizophonic is right up there with the best of Œem."
Eddie Thomas www.ubbacultcha.com May 2006
"How can a band that has an ex-Scratch Pervert and a 60-year old jazz
guitarist playing alongside each other be anything but great?
Schizophonic is a demonstration of blistering instrumentalism,
toe-tapping beats, razor-sharp rapping and world class arrangement."
www.myvillage.com May 2006
"Us3 continue to meld the best elements of hip-hop and jazz better than
the majority of their contempories. A great album."
www.thebeatsurrender.co.uk June 2005
"Both rappers blend seamlessly with Us3¹s jazz and samba influenced
beats and weave expertly amongst the horns and turn in first class
Clash magazine - May 2006
"From upbeat hip hop to laidback jazz grooves, Brazilian samba rhythms
to smoky, downstairs jazz club tempos, this is done really well."
www.ukhh.com June 2006
"Us3 continue to push the boundaries, mixing poetic rap with jazz, nu-soul and Brazilian samba."
What's On June 2006
"the intelligent, laid-back rymes from the rappers combine perfectly with the jazzy chops from the band"
Blues & Soul May 2006
"Witty, caustic, deft rapping over live jazz instrumentations touches of genius"
Stuff August 2006
"The mixture of live jazz instruments under intelligent lyrics is one that astounds"
One Week To Live May 2006
"Us3 have delivered a great variant on a globally dominant theme. Love it!"
Steve Fanning www.new-noise.net July 2006
"An innovative hip-hop jazz record"
Alex Lawson Shadowplay June 2006
"Terrific rhythms, beats and horns."
www.lifeandsoul.com June 2006
"If you like tunes with a difference go and get this."
www.caughtinthecrossfire.com May 2006
"Give it a listen you'll be hooked."
www.basic-soul.co.uk June 2006
Grindmode June 2006
"Us3 continues to do what it has done best: the perfect blend of spicy, sexy hip hop laced with a jazzy, horny feel” - www.bigyawn.net
“A blend of positive, progressively phunky jazz, neo-soul, a touch of R&B here, a dash of Latin there.”
is full of strutting hip-hop Cubanisms ("Whatcha Gonna Do?"), jazzy
conscious rap ("What Does That Mean?"), slow-simmering Latin funk
("Goodbye") and even a couple of affectionate looks back at that one
big hit single ("Cantaloop 2004: Bossa Mix" and "Soul Mix"). Everything
on Questions is guaranteed to get folks at your next party winding their waists and spilling their drinks. Highly recommended.” - www.allmusic.com
“…slinky, keyboard-driven arrangements anchored in soulful jazz and Latin rhythms. Timeless.”
“This is an album that sweats cool” www.nypost.com
"A very mature album of contemporary jazz-influenced urban sounds. With
its beautiful fusion of Latin, R&B, acid jazz, African beats,
hip-hop and funk, 'Questions' is an eclectic mix of culture, genres and
attitudes. The sweet and mellow sounds of sax, trumpet and piano weave
their way through the background, wrapping themselves around fantastic
uplifting lyrics that meander through global, social and personal
Priscilla Owusu www.knowtheledge.net November 2004
"Us3 have two new vocalists with super sexy stylish Mpho laying
exquisite jazz-funk vocals and Brooklyn born and bred Reggi Wyns
flexing his jazzy Tribe style raps. They're both excellent providing
lyrics that are conscious, deep and they compliment the music very
well. It's all about positivity, peace and soul that makes this album
uplifting and really smooth."
Tareck Ghoneim www.contactmusic.com October 2004
"Ooooooh, how cool is this music? It defines 'cool'. Combining elements
of smooth jazz, sexy soul and hip-hop beats with benevolent bebop and
many other, worldly styles. This is music that can easily gain respect
on both the streets and the world circuit. Wilkinson and the gang
should feel proud of what they have accomplished, because in all
honesty it is a very good record. Music to make love to on a sunny
Daniel Bristow www.roomthirteen.com September 2004
"Geoff Wilkinson has put together an album which is heavily influenced
by his passion for latin music and nu soul. Well produced, excellent
musicianship, especially trumpet, funky and jazzy, nicely crafted"
"heavily jazz-influenced with a big R&B vibe - soulful and groovy with horns and sassy rapping. Love it."
Cathy Levy - Upside Magazine - September 2004
"a snoozy boozy woozy treat!"
Pete Cashmore - NME - 25 September 2004
"Us3 have never been so darn funky"
Jack Foley www.indielondon.co.uk September 2004
"An Ordinary Day In An Unusual Place"
Ordinary Day in an Unusual Place may have a tough act to follow in
Us3's massive 1993 hit Hand on the Torch, but Geoff Wilkinson's two new
vocal recruits add at least one new dimension to the group's music. An
Ordinary Day also places additional emphasis on real-time playing,
relying less on the samples which powered Us3's earlier work. At the
beginning there are fun tracks exploring personal politics, before the
scope gradually widens to tackle grim social issues. The fun section
strikes hard with "Get Out", Alison Crockett emoting on the Shirley
Bassey scale, swiftly chased by "You Can't Hold Me Down", where fellow
New Yorker Michelob raps lubriciously over inspired Indo-Latino fusion.
Crockett's back again for the equally arresting "Let My Dreams Come
True", banging piano chords leading a horn-exploding salsa sprint.
Michelob takes a minimalist rap lope with "India" and "Dead End
Street", really devouring the rhyming meat by the time he gets to
"World No More". Meanwhile, Crockett makes "Sittin' on My Park Bench"
sound like Prince's "Sign O' the Times", then criss-crosses lines over
a lunging bass on "Pay Attention", which is surely a contender for
Martin Longley Amazon.co.uk
2001 release features shorter samples, stronger tunes & a greater
emphasis on songwriting. London based producer Geoff Wilkinson, the
driving force behind Us3, has delivered his most exciting &
significant project yet.
I was amazed at how a man can update his quasi-Tribe Called Quest sound
of the '90s so seamlessly is beyond me. Wilkinson does it with ease.
Louise Brown "The Charlatan"
Cool breaks and fusion-dabbled rapping.
The adventurous groove has evolved in a more streamlined form of
truncated samples woven into infectious songs. Great CD.
Graham Radley "Net Rhythms"
A creative and intelligent mixture of soul, salsa, hip-hop and jazz.
The sound of this unclassifiable group is always hot, efficient and
"Broadway & 52nd"
comes up from the basement with sensuous sampled loops from the Blue
Note archives, and in through the side door with heated solos between
Entertainment Weekly 18.4.97
The groove is non-stop.... Once again producer/mixer Geoff Wilkinson
dips into the Blue Note vault to borrow beat samples, rappers KCB and
Shabaam Sahdeeq wax eloquent with news from the street and a rotating
crew of musicians fills the gaps with strong improvisational flights.
Down Beat Jan 97
This time around, producer Geoff Wilkinson digs deeper into the Blue
Note catalog to come up with some obscure jazz samples combined with
live musicians and the poetic lyrics of newcomers KCB and Shabaam
Rap Pages August 97
Like the dance bands of the Big Band Era, Us3 shows that it's possible
to create a form that both delights and challenges. It also proves
beyond any doubt that like jazz and blues (other African-American art
forms once dismissed as gutter music) before it, rap can hold it's own
in a high-brow environment. KCB and Sahdeeq give vocal performances
that are sophisticated and classy while still conveying an energetic
urgency. Perhaps most of all, "Broadway & 52nd" is evidence that
jazz continues to evolve, to adapt - to live.
Jim Trageser 'American Reporter' 12.4.97
"Hand On The Torch"
have made vinyl history with the addictive "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)",
the first hip-hop record to be released by the
internationally-respected jazz label Blue Note."
Amy Raphael "The Face" December 1992
"It's so refreshing to hear music that goes beyond the normal 'safe' boundaries"
Sarah HB "Blues & Soul" 22.6.93
"This is hep-cattin', horn-tootin', daddy-o-grandness!"
Calvin Bush "Melody Maker" 24.7.93
"A distinctive and superb hybrid"
Music Week 17.7.93
"It just doesn't get cooler than this!"
Gavin Report 8.10.93
"If acts like Us3 are any indication, true jazz rap fusion may finally be at hand"
Baltimore Sun 10.12.93
"As distinctive as a thumb print, as unmistakable as a Miles Davis
solo, Us3 combines jazz and hip-hop like no other group Us3 is a breed
Boston Globe 17.12.93
"Finally a true hip-hop jazz album - they never forgot the importance of improvisation"
USA Today 27.12.93
"Rap's New Jazz Messengers - Us3 takes fusion further than some have ever dreamed"
Time Magazine 24.1.94
"Us3 remind us that what made jazz in the 50s and 60s so singular was
not just the horn riffing but the syncopation, the tempo, the
accenting, the odd time signatures - the crazy rhythms"
Vibe January 94
"The best extended marriage of jazz and rap to date"
Wall Street Journal 2.3.94
"Bird woulda dug this shit!"
Austin Chronicle 4.3.94
"We have seen the future and it is Us3"
Paper April 94
"This sort of thing has given jazz back to the street"
The Independent on Sunday 27.11.94