The Jazzyfatnastees, Tracey Moore and Mercedes Martinez, began as a quartet, signing to Tommy Boy Records in November 1993. "At that time we sang forties style harmonies over jazz loops and break-beats. We wanted to have three-part harmony plus a lead vocal. Basically we wanted to be able to do anything we did on record live and in person," explains Mercedes. Her brother J. Swift (producer of hip-hop group the Pharcyde's first album "Bizzare Ride to the Pharcyde") helped pen their name. " The Jazzy lyrics, the fat harmonies, and the nastee tracks, it's all about the music," says Tracey. In that spirit, the Jazzees have also collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Michelle N'degeocello, Outkast, De La Soul, Blackilicious and Eric Benet. In 1995, shortly after the Tommy Boy deal dissolved, they met hip-hop legends The Roots. After doing a series of opening spots with the band in LA, they were invited to do some guest vocals on The Roots! ' album "illadelphhalflife." Seduced by the creative energy of the city and inspired by their warm welcome into The Roots' musical family, the Jazzyfatnastees decided to make Philadelphia their home.
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By 1998 two of the original members had gone their separate ways, the two remaining members, Tracey and Mercedes, unexpectedly found that they were now a duo. That same year the Jazzees signed to Motive Records, The Roots' imprint on MCA. They wrote and co-produced their debut album "The Once and Future," in conjunction with The Roots, manager/producer Richard Nichols, and Scott Storch, long time Roots collaborator and current producer for Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Mobb Deep, Jay Z and others. The album, released in the fall of 1999, was well received and favorably critiqued by publications such as Time Magazine, The Source, Jane Magazine, USA Today and The Philadelphia Inquirer among others. Unfortunately the album preceded the advent of the "neo-soul" movement and MCA was unsure how to market a group that did not readily fit the then limited confines of popular black music.
Fearing that their music would get lost in the "commercial" sauce, the Jazzyfatnastees took it upon themselves to create a forum in which they and other women artists that fall into the left-of-center, urban alternative categories could promote and develop their material on a regular basis. Black Lily, " A Women in Music Series" was born. Started at The Wetlands in New York's Village in April of 1999 and now in it's third year at The Five Spot in Philadelphia, the acclaimed series has featured performances by several of today's most celebrated artists. Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Bilal, Musiq, Aaries, Floetry, Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Jaguar Wright, Kindred, Jazmine Sullivan, Glenn Lewis, Julie Dexter, Common, Mos Def and, of course, The Roots are among the many artists that have graced the Lily stage.
Now signed to independent, Coolhunter/Ryko Distribution, the Jazzyfatnastees are poised to release their sophomore album "The Tortoise and the Hare," in September 2002. The album reflects the duo's various influences (pop, soul, rock, jazz, Latin music, etc.) and their complimentary yet very different vocal styles, once again limited to ten unique tracks, the goal being an album that's short and sweet, worth listening to from beginning to end. "We see our present label as much better suited to our artistic vision. The musical landscape has also widened and become much more diverse since our first album dropped in 1999. We're excited to see how this album is received and looking forward to continuing to develop our sound and Black Lily into the future," says Mercedes. Remaining true to themselves and getting comfortable in their own skin is the philosophy behind the album's title. With "The Tortoise and the Hare," it's likely that listeners! will agree that the Jazzyfatnastees have accomplished both.
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