One day in 2001, iconic radio DJ and pioneer Frank Ski was so excited that he cracked the mic and announced to the airwaves: “finally, someone got it.”
The subject of Frank’s on-air accolades was the debut volume of Hidden Beach Presents Unwrapped, a compilation of esteemed jazz musicians playing new instrumental renditions of everybody’s favorite hip-hop cuts.
Hidden Beach CEO and founder Steve McKeever had a vision of honoring hip-hop by putting a spotlight on its musical roots, while producers Tony Joseph & Darryl Ross were cooking up interesting new R&B sounds with an instrumental live component. Former Polygram president and Billy Eckstine’s son knew of both plans and introduced Tony & Darryl to Steve, and the trio of like minds came together to merge hip-hop and jazz into a beloved fusion of sound and style, setting the tone for the highly acclaimed Unwrapped series.
It became clear pretty quickly that Vol. 1 was scratching the right itch by the overwhelming support that emerged. After an innovative underground promotional campaign led by Hidden Beach interns, and subsequent to Frank Ski’s cosign, in just 3 days the album filled its yearly national sales projection in Atlanta alone, to be flanked by the rest of U.S. shortly thereafter. It also gained the distinction of being the first new artist instrumental record to debut in the Top 200 Pop charts, and entered the Jazz chart at #1.
Before long, Unwrapped became a staple at night clubs, festivals, church gatherings, record stores, coffee shops, and barbecues alike. It also nurtured a common meeting ground between music lovers from all generations, with parents and grandparents finding themselves bopping to what their kids were playing, and vice versa.
In the span of 8 volumes, the series has touched the works of A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac Shakur, Outkast, Naughty By Nature, Lil’ Kim, Nelly, Common, Big Pun, and more, and has hosted a bevy of phenomenal talent, including Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lorber, Najee, Jeff Bradshaw, and Paul Jackson, Jr., with all parties involved bringing their A-game to this special collection of releases.