“The break” — that 10-second percussive breakdown in funk, soul and jazz tunes from the ‘60s and ‘70s that DJs and producers eventually looped together into beats — is the cornerstone of hip-hop. Los Angeles funk band Breakestra built from that cornerstone a revolutionized synergy of hip-hop, live music and rare groove that inspired a whole scene of music.
Molded from musician Miles Tackett’s desire to create a live band with a DJ’s mindset, Breakestra was created by a revolving group of musicians, MCs and DJs who explored hip-hop’s canon of vinyl samples through live improvisation and collaboration on stage. With great musical taste, a nonchalant attitude and stone-cold playing, Breakestra would become one of the cornerstones of an L.A. scene that defined an era, and its debut album The Live Mix Part 1 is the group’s inspired first impression. Live Mix Part 1 perfectly captured a band playing with a distinct style and street-smart sincerity that was integral in defining a whole scene of music. Stones Throw Records released 2001’s follow-up album Live Mix Part 2 to a wider audience, followed by Breakestra’s first album of originals Hit The Floor in 2005. Subsequent albums and singles have included many of the guests, collaborators and scene stealers from the band’s original days — including Chali 2na, DJ Dusk and Double K — and players have gone on to work with artists such as Black Eyed Peas and Macy Gray, among others.
Breakestra is a unique musical piece of the late ‘90s musical scene in L.A., which would eventually inspire a whole generation of creators across the world. It’s a project that continues to make the connections between hip-hop, live music and rare groove, recontextualizing the shared history of these art forms and enriching the evolution of the musical conversation going forward.