Hip Hop with Violins

Hip Hop Violins

I'm a big fan of many musical genres, from hip hop to hardcore/punk, from jazz to prog rock and classical and there's one instrument I love more than any other -- the violin. So when artists started introducing violins to the hip hop genre I basically flipped out!

Granted, my favorite artist, Eminem, has long incorporated strings in his work, but frankly his use of it is more reminiscent of classical symphonies than it is rap and hip hop. I love that stuff, but what is really turning my crank lately is music that gives the violin a distinctively hip hop sound.

So let me introduce you to some of the artists.

Nuttin But Stringz aka NBS

Nuttin' But Stringz are a young duo from Queens, NY, brothers Damien (18) and Tourie Escobar (20). They both went to Julliard and have performed at the Apollo Theatre, as well as appearing on the Jay Leno show and the Ellen show.

Their first album, Struggle from the Subway to the Charts, was released in 2006 and it's a really terrific piece of work that I highly recommend.

Their official website is Nuttinbutstringz.com and you can hear more music on their MySpace page.

Nuttin' but Stringz CD on Amazon

Paul Dateh

Paul Dateh is an incredible violinist and vocalist who lives in Los Angeles, California. He began studying violin at the age of 4 years old, and studied at USC's Thornton School of Music in their jazz studies dept.

As yet unsigned, he has performed on several albums for other artists, including Clika One and Daz Dillinger. He's very popular online and also performs live at clubs often with his band, The Live Movement. Currently he's working on putting an album together.

His official website is pauldateh.com and you can listen to some of his music at his MySpace page.

Vocally, Paul's style strikes me as more R&B than Hip Hop. He has a great voice and I highly recommend you check out his MySpace and listen to some of his tracks.

Paul Dateh and Inka One

Black Violin

On May 21st 2005 Black Violin, two classically trained musicians took home the title "2005 Apollo Legends". Another duo, KeV Marcus and Wil b, along with their DJ TK have created the ultimate synergy between classical and Hip-Hop music, and with it an incredible opportunity to reach young children.

Since their triumph at the Apollo, Black Violin has toured with Linkin Park's lead singer Mike Shinoda throughout the country, performed at the NFL Kick off party with Puff Daddy "Diddy", performed at the Billboard Awards with Alicia Keys, been featured on the Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Lil Kim's, Brooke Hogan's upcoming albums, and has been giving an Award by the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts for their Outstanding Contributions to Middle & High School Performing Arts Students.

Kev Marcus, and Wil b, both graduates of Dillard Performing Arts High School, used their musical talents to earn full scholarships to college. Now Black Violin wants to make sure that America's young people get the same exposure to the arts, and therefore the same opportunity that they did. - from their Official website, Black Violin

Also, check out Black Violin's MySpace page for more Music. As far as I know, they are still unsigned, but you can buy their mixtape through Paypal on their website.

Black Violin EPK

Daniel Bernard Roumain aka DBR

Daniel Bernard Roumain doesn't fit the image of a classical musician. The Haitian-American violinist and composer sports a silver nose ring and dreadlocks that reach to his waist. Roumain has coined a name for his style: "dred violin."

Roumain is classically trained, but he gets just as much inspiration -- maybe more -- from jazz, rock and hip-hop. "The notion of what the violin represents and its history has nothing to do with what I represent," Roumain says. The dred violin "means more than black and white; it means a mixing -- a mixture, literally," he says.

Roumain has his own nine-piece band, DBR & THE MISSION, which includes a string quartet, a rhythm section and a DJ, who beat-boxes and scratches. - from NPR

DBR has worked with both Philip Glass and choreographer Bill T. Jones. I would't classify him as a hip hop violinist since he's more classical in orientation, but his stuff is definitely interesting and I think it provides a good cross-over between genres.

You can visit DBR's website and MySpace page for more info and music.

DBR performs Filter

Miri Ben-Ari

Miri Ben-Ari is an Israeli classically trained violinist. Having been discovered by Wyclef Jean and worked with Alicia Keyes and Kayne West, she's far the most well known of the "hip hop violinists", but she's last on my list because her sound isn't very exciting and because she's a corporate bee-atch. She's actually trademarked the term "Hip Hop Violinist" and has been suing other musicians who dare to use the term to describe what they do. Sorry, but that's not a very Hip Hop thing to do at all.

Because she's worked with so many big names in Hip Hop, she's been able to have some pretty fast success, but her attitude towards other musicians who are still struggling to get signed is appalling.

I actually really like her work on Kayne West's album, The College Drop-Out, -- especially Jesus Walks -- but I found her own album rather disappointing.

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Comments 15 comments

AmplifierMagazine profile image

AmplifierMagazine 8 years ago

I definitely have to agree that a Hip Hop and Classical fusion is just amazing. I'd heard Miri Ben-Ari before but I didn't know about her being so unethical in the business.

I'm listening to Nuttin' but Stringz now and I really love it. Very classy and very good rhythms - you can hear the influences in the songs.

embitca profile image

embitca 8 years ago from Boston Author

I love Nuttin' But Stringz. They are definitely my favorite of the bunch. I think it is great that all these people are classically trained musicians. Several of them also do a lot of educational work with children, particularly NBS and Black Violin.

Journey * profile image

Journey * 7 years ago from USA

This is a great hub. Thanks for sharing.

chica 7 years ago

nottin but strings is nubero uno

jostapha profile image

jostapha 6 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

Wow, I had no idea violin was catching on so well in Hip Hop! I play the violin so I always listen out for it in new contexts. I do prefer a non-classical approach though. Have you heard much Aesop Rock? He features a violin in his song 'No Regrets' (at least I think that's what its called). It works really well. Cool hub by the way!

ericanicole 6 years ago

Where is Lee England JR??? He sooo belongs on this page!!


aimeeSF profile image

aimeeSF 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

I also LOVE the fusion of Hip-Hop with Classical music! I actually haven't heard of Nuttin' But Stringz and was sad when the YouTube video didn't work - but thankfully you put up their site and I'm already bumpin' their site's videos. Lovin' it!! Thank you for turning me on to them! I'm definitely snagging their album.

Miri Ben-Ari's performance at the Apollo was cool too!

rubienb profile image

rubienb 6 years ago from 570, US

the song "lil freak" with usher and nikki minaj also has violen and hiphop and i love it for that.

Nustylze profile image

Nustylze 6 years ago

I have to say, I love Nuttin' But Stringz, but I heard Miri Ben-Ari a few years back and really didn't feel her sound I thought it has soulless, something seemed missing, but given what you have said about her corporate dealings, it explains it all.

The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 6 years ago from USA

Oh man! Thanks a lot for this. Ever since I heard Cypress Hill's insane in the Membrane played by the London Symphony Orchestra on the simpsons I always wonderd if such fusions existed.

tinisha12 profile image

tinisha12 5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

I love this article. The content is so right on. I realize you wrote this awhile ago, but came across this article and I'm very impressed with your content and the videos. Great job. Thanks for sharing. Love the violin music introduced into hip hop. I love hip hop. Always have, always will.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago

Wow...so cool. I dated violinist. He was great...but not like this. How cool!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago

Man, thanks for this hub, I'm sold. Their website is great too!

Sarah Hill 5 years ago

This is awesome. I think I first heard about hip hop with strings through the book "Hip Hop: A Cultural Odyssey" and I've been hooked ever since.

Sharp Points profile image

Sharp Points 19 months ago from Big Bear Lake, California

Wow this stuff is incredible. Yelawolf made a song (Candy & Dreams?) with a beat that incorporated a violin i believe? Maybe a fiddle would make more sense since he is from the south. Anyways great article voted up.

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