Guru's Jazzmatazz
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Guru's Jazzmatazz

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If practice truly makes perfect, it makes sense that Guru, one half of one of Hip Hop's most respected groups (Gangstarr with DJ Premier), would be well on the way to perfection. In a genre where most careers are finished after their first two albums, "Jazzmatazz 4" is the twelfth album where Guru has functioned as the lead MC. Nearly a twenty year Hip Hop veteran, Guru has had a lifetime of practice. So after nearly twenty years of making albums, what does Guru have left in him?

As best put by the man himself on "Connection," "I'm like lightning when I'm writing, I strike perfection." On "Jazzmatazz 4," Guru has turned in the best performance of his career. While his delivery has stayed much the same throughout his career, his lyrics have constantly evolved, from his complex rhyme schemes in "Step In the Arena" to more simple, profound styles in albums like "Streetsoul." Here, he has stopped experimenting with new styles in favor of perfecting old ones, and it pays off tremendously. Guru runs this album like an anthology, melding together the best of his efforts into one magnificent package.

Despite spending his entire flowing in a low-key that toes the line between melodic and monotonous, Guru has spent his entire career stretching the definition of what a rapper can do musically. Whether setting trends with DJ Premier or merging rap with jazz and soul in his Jazzmatazz series, Guru has a knack for recognizing the cutting edge of Hip Hop music. For "Jazzmatazz 4," Guru has employed Solar for their second album together ("Street Scriptures 7.0").

While he under whelmed many with "Street Scriptures," Solar's production has been elevated tremendously. The Jazzmatazz moniker seems to have given him a focus for his talents; his production here arguably outstrips even Guru's rhymes. While previous Jazzmatazz albums have always been slightly awkward, seeming to force together separate genres, Solar blends rap, jazz, soul, and even funk and reggae seamlessly to create the best sounding Jazzmatazz album yet.

As easy to flow over as any rap music, and as smooth as the other genres, Solar provides Guru with the perfect accompaniment to his smooth, laid back rhymes. As a result, Guru sounds better than he has in over a decade, and he takes full advantage of the amazing music provided here. Anybody doubting his hunger after so much success merely has to listen to him massacre the swinging drums and horns of "This is Art" to know Guru is as potent as ever. And though he is more than capable of carrying a song on his own, he reaches even greater heights when standing next to other great rappers. Lead single "State of Clarity" is the apex of the album, as Guru and Common blaze through Solar's best beat.

[Common]
"My mind blows incisions, at times indecisive
Keep my head to the sky to understand what Chris is
Turn off the news, 'cause everyday is a crisis
Lifeless niggas one the couch, weeded out
It's certain type of shit about my life, weed it out
I believe in the route, of soul before paper
No gold before labor, truth told with no blazers
[...]
It's the Chi that be giving me my ground
Dug in the crates of my soul and I found...
Clarity..."
[Guru]
"Toiled in the trenches, faced judges on benches
Betrayed by some that I dared not to mention
Standing here now in the best condition
Up out of the dirt so I suggest you listen
See, money can't make you and me
Protect my mind with nines, 'cause it shines more than jewelry
Used to do things that weren't too productive
Now I breathe life into mikes for your comfort..."

Common isn't the only rapper Guru collaborates with. He creates pure magic with Blackalicious' Gift of Gab, and his rhyme heavy verse absolute destroys Slum Village: "your cause is conflicted, the applause is restricted, to idiots, so pity, yes; oh the laws are so wicked." He doesn't only collaborate with rappers though, every track has some singer or musician working on the background. This doesn't hurt the album, as Guru and Solar are easily consistent enough to keep a unified sound. Rather, the many guests serve only to enhance the already incredibly smooth sound of the album.

As good and creative as it is, "Jazzmatazz 4" isn't without its flaws. For many rap fans, it will simply come across as boring. The music is very sound, but it's laid back enough that much come off as unexciting. Also, Guru, while on top of his game here, does tend to fall back on talking about how good he is a little too much. He does it with skill, displaying the cutting edge of his technique, so it's not a problem for the individual songs. But when his boasting makes up nearly half the album, it can begin to be uninteresting

"Jazzmatazz 4" is overall an excellent album that displays the full talents of the individuals involved. The chemistry of Guru and Solar shouldn't be compared to that of Gangstarr; they have a greatness that is entirely their own. This album is the absolute embodiment of t - Rap Reviews July 2007


Album : Jazzmatazz Back To The Future Mix Tape
Release Date : February 19, 2008

This album is Guru’s "raw" companion to the "Jazzmatazz Vol. 4" album. The Mix CD carefully and superbly crafted by Superproducer Solar to exhibit the "Golden Area" New York essence with a cutting edge futuristic twist ! The tracks are pure bangers and the guest appearances are classic as they compliment Guru’s iconic yet streetwise vocals.

These MCs represent the best of Amaerica’s true Hip Hop artists that hail from the underground scene that Guru has remained so true to. There are features such as Aceyalone and Zion I from the West Coast, Blue Scholars from Seattle, Mr. Lif from Boston, Yungun from London, as well as legends Lord Tariq from the Bronx, Nature from Queensbridge, C. Knowledge from Digable Planets and Tony Touch to name a few. This is no ordinary Mix CD as it is hosted by the Mix Tape King himself, DJ DooWop who also "spits fire" on a couple of "joints" !

Track Listing :

1. Intro-don Gurizzy
2. Knowledge Feat. Lord Tariq
3. 7 Grand Yall Feat. Solar
4. For Ya Mind Feat. Zion I
5. Peace Feat. K-born, Highpower & Solar
6. State Of Clarity Feat. Common (solar Remix)
7. Who Got It On Lock Feat. Doo Wop [Explicit]
8. B-boy Kamikaze Feat. Tony Touch & Doo Wop (diaz Brothers)
9. Too Slick Feat. Yungun
10. So What It Do Now Feat. Aceyalone
11. We Got That Feat. Nature & Solar
12. Jazzy Wayz (7 Grand Exclusive)
13. Stand Up (some Thingsll Never Change) Reggae Mix Feat. Damian Marley
14. Hot Like That Feat. Medinah
15. No Need For Stress Feat. Mr. Lif
16. Back To The Future Feat. Caron Wheeler & C. Knowledge (digable)
17. Assasino Feat. Young Pablo
18. The Game Needs Me Feat. Blue Scholars & Common Market
19. Feed The Hungry (solar Remix)
20. Can’t Stop The Movement (7 Grand) Feat. Ms. Camille


- Hip Hop Galaxy


As one half of Gang Starr, Guru helped create an island of intellectual musicality in a sea of mainstream hip-hop. During their heyday from the late ‘80s through the millennium, Guru and DJ Premier brought a sense of depth and heritage to the genre, paying homage to jazz by adding improvisational riffs to their tracks. In his solo work, Guru continued to expand the vernacular of hip-hop by incorporating elements of jazz, world, and pop music into his landmark Jazzmatazz recordings. His music introduced hip-hop fans to jazz legends like Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Freddie Hubbard, and the reclusive Lonnie Liston Smith, and exposed listeners to a new side of pop stars like Erykah Badu, Isaac Hayes, and Jamiroquai.

With Gang Starr, Guru showed that this fad called hip-hop was a powerful form of expression that can stand the test of time. But Guru is not interested in reminiscing about the past. In the last few years, Guru went through an acrimonious split with DJ Premier, broke with his record company, shed his handlers, and wrestled with his personal demons. Now, Guru has emerged with a new record (Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures), a new partnership with Superproducer Solar, and a fresh perspective.

As he makes clear in the following SWINDLE interview he did with Solar, Guru is not close to done being vital and creative. If he wasn’t in hip-hop, you get the feeling he could head a Fortune 500 company, or lead a congregation down to Guyana. He is an astonishing communicator who seems to be reciting verse even when he speaks extemporaneously—as if you could start taping at dinner and have a finished record by dessert.

You have always been referred to as an “intelligent rapper.” Have you ever been tempted to ditch all that and make a commercial record?

GURU: No. What I like to do is what comes natural. A lot of artists do sit down and think about what type of record they should make. Some think about what would be the most successful and then decide that it’s going to be that kind of record. I don’t even know how I would do that and frankly, I wouldn’t want to know. If something we did became popular and mainstream, naturally, that would be fine with me. But I couldn’t try to assume what will be popular, [that’s] not in my process.

SOLAR: I don’t think that any pre-made template would ever work for Guru. You would have a situation where his core fans would reject it and it would come off as fake to everyone else. Guru has to be Guru, and that is why he has endured so long.

Even though you are originally from Boston you were part of the New York hip-hop phenomenon. Why is New York no longer the center of the hip-hop world?

G: The market for intelligent rap has gotten smaller. New York has been in a lull. This is why Solar and I recorded Street Scriptures. Before the “bling” era, New York City had hip-hop locked. Once “bling” and materialism took hold of hip-hop and washed out the intelligence, hip-hop moved away from New York.

S: Eventually people saw past the façade. Those guys don’t own those cars, they ain’t really having sex with those big butt women, they don’t own those big houses! Once people figured it out they began to lose interest. It’s a good time for Guru to be out there doing what he does.

I noticed you ordered fruit and vegetables for lunch. Have you become a vegetarian?

G: I am trying to be more balanced, healthier. People are shocked when they see me now, especially if they haven’t seen me since Gangstarr. They tell me that I look like the guy from Gangstarr but that I look much younger. They don’t believe when I tell them that it’s me.

It seems as though you have been making a lot of changes. How did these changes come about?

S: How Guru got here? He was very troubled. He was struggling with alcohol—to put it mildly. His business had turned against him. He was working for a record label and had handlers that didn’t have his best interest in mind.

G: Everyone around me at the time was taking from me. I was close to becoming a VH1 Where Are They Now? Solar came on some of the tours and saw from the inside what was going on. He saw my frustration with the label, with A&R people who were telling me what to put out, and ultimately my unhealthy relationship with my producer and my handlers. My handlers at the time had DJ Premier’s interest ahead of mine.

S: When does it ever happen that the front man comes out on the bottom? Premier was getting $50,000 per track to produce. Premier was producing all over the place and Guru could only release one or two records a year—who do you think the handlers are going to side with?

G: On our contract I could not guest vocal on anyone’s record while Premiere could work on whatever he wanted. We had the same lawyers, why didn’t they fight for me? I’m not bitter. I’m on a mission of reinventing and recreating myself while I get the truth out. I always wanted to do my own label, so when Solar mentioned it I got r - Swindle Magazine


Discography

Guru's Discography
Albums:
2008 Jazzmatazz: Timebomb - Back to the Future Mix Tape
2007 Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future
2005 Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures
2004 Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
2003 The Ownerz
2001 Baldhead Slick & da Click
2000 Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
1999 Full Clip
1998 Moment of Truth
1995 Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality
1994 Hard to Earn
1993 Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
1992 Daily Operation
1991 Step in the Arena
1989 No More Mr. Nice Guy

EPs & Singles:
2008 Jazzy Wayz
2007 Cuz I'm Jazzy
2007 State of Clarity
2005 Hood Dreamin'
2005 Step in the Arena, Vol. 2 (I'm Sayin')
2004 Cave In
2003 The Ownerz/Same Team No Games
2003 Nice Girl Wrong Place/Rite Where U Stand
2002 Certified
2002 Skills/Natural
2001 Supa Love
2001 Mass Appeal/Code of the Streets
2000 Keep Your Worries
1999 Work
1999 Full Clip
1998 ½ & ½ (Blade Soundtrack)
1998 Militia
1997 You Know My Steez
1995 Watch What You Say
1995 Feel the Music
1995 The Lifesaver
1994 Suckas Need Bodyguards
1994 Mass Appeal
1994 Code of the Streets
1994 Dwyck
1993 No Time to Play
1993 Trust Me
1993 Loungin'
1993 Gotta Get Over (Trespass Soundtrack)
1992 Take It Personal
1992 Ex Girl to Next Girl
1991 Step in the Arena [Single]
1991 Lovesick
1991 Just to Get a Rep
1990 Jazz Thing (Mo' Betta Blues soundtrack)
1990 Words I Manifest
1990 No More Mr. Nice Guy

Solar's Discography
ALBUMS:
“Guru Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures” , 7 Grand Records, June 2005
“Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future”, 7 Grand Records, July 2007
“Guru’s Jazzmatazz: The Timebomb/Back to the Future Mixtape”, 7 Grand Records, February 2008

REMIXES::
“ Cupid’s Chokehold”(Platnium), Gym Class Heroes feat Guru, August 2007
“ The Otherside”, Slightly Stoopid, Oct.2007
“ Stand Up”, Guru feat Damian Marley Sept.2007
“ State of Clarity”, Guru feat. Commom, Sept.2007
"Just Be Thankful"Omar feat: Angie Stone July 2004

VIDEO DIRECTOR:
“Step in the Arena 2”, Guru feat Doo Wop July 2005
“Hood Dreamin”, feat Guru Sept 2005
“State of Clarity”, Guru feat. Common Aug 2007
“Cuz I’m Jazzy”, Guru feat. Slum Village Oct 2007
“ Jazzy Wayz”, feat Guru Feb 2008












Photos

Bio

Founded by legendary Guru (Gangstarr), Guru’s Jazzmatazz has been making trends and breaking grounds in music since its inception in 1992. Jazz/Hip Hop fusion became widely popular after the release of the first of four Jazzmatazz albums and eventually became its own musical genre, influencing the creation of others such as acid jazz and neo-soul. Now the term Jazzmatazz is used to describe new alternative music from Hip Hop Jazz influenced artists. The latest incarnation of Guru’s Jazzmatazz (featuring DJ Doo Wop and NYC's Brightest Producer Solar) is one of only a few remaining vehicles in which hip hop fans can experience hip hop in its truest form performed by one of its most prolific figures.

Simply put Guru is an icon and Solar is one of the most gifted, notable, and important producers today. Guru has worked with some of the top Jazz artists and Hip Hop artists of all time. Jazzmatazz has bridged the gap between the younger Hip Hop generation and the Jazz world successfully. Guru is the first and only rapper to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Guru's Jazzmatazz is the first Hip Hop ensemble to play all of the prestigious European Jazz Festivals such as The Blue Note Festival, The Hague Festival, and The Montreaux to name a few.

In a world where the hip-hop genre has become marketed to the mainstream and diluted with “blinged-out” egocentric celebrity red carpet thugs spitting vapid and tasteless rhymes over derivative and uninspired beats, Guru’s Jazzmatazz represents real hip-hop—not clichéd rap. Guru and Solar are proud to set a higher spiritual standard. As Solar puts it, “We’re the moral gangstas”.