Us3 leapt out of the gate in 1993 with a confident, passionate and edgy vision that combined conscious hip-hop with performances by live jazz musicians, cemented together with a wealth of samples from Blue Note Records, its label at the time. The result was the group’s landmark debut album Hand on the Torch and its worldwide hit single “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia).”
Twenty years later, Us3, led by co-founder and bandleader Geoff Wilkinson, are readying their 8th album release, The Third Way. The latest disc harkens back to Hand on the Torch, explains Wilkinson, and represents a satisfying bookend to the first Us3 album. “I’ve used some classic jazz tracks as the basis for some of the songs — similar to what I did on Hand On The Torch (albeit this time with replayed “interpolations” rather than using samples). It’s the follow up album I never made at the time.” The album’s MC responsibilities are shared by a trio of rappers drawn from across Us3’s history, including Tukka, KCB and Akil Dasan.