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Guru: Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4—The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger

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After establishing himself as the lyrical component of one of most influential duos in Hip-Hop, Gang Starr, Guru’s name does carry some serious weight. To the commercially driven aficionados of today’s Hip-pop his prophecies will more than likely fall upon deaf ears; but to the true disciples of Hip-Hop his presence will be forever welcomed. Guru may have left fans somewhat perplexed with his neo-soul’ish Jazzmatazz, Vol 3 back in 2000 after grabbing their undivided attention with his experimentation of fusing Jazz and Hip-Hop on his previous two offerings. But on Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future (7 Grand), Guru is once again, after three decades in the game proving he is far from done.Aligning with producer Solar may have possibly been considered Guru’s cardinal sin. Many can’t forget the Gang Starr days where the Boston native sided with the legendary Premier, but as time marches on so does Hip-Hop and sometimes for some a change is as good as a rest. Even with the presence of some very familiar samples, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4 does actually provide a so welcomed reprieve from the mass produced music we find ourselves inundated with today. Having already worked with Stephen Marley on Chant Down Babylon, the album that fused Bob Marley with names from Hip-Hop, Guru enlists a Marley clan member in Damian on “Stand Up”; obviously proving that this album goes beyond just a fusion of Hip-Hop and Jazz. “Universal Struggle” which is laced with a saxophone solo while Guru covers issues that affect those from, “Sophia, Bulgaria to the New York interior,” is one of the socially conscious tagged tracks you will, in true Guru style, find an abundance of on the album.  “Kissed the World” featuring one time collaborator of Soul II Soul, Caron Wheeler is a Hip-Hop rendition of Georgie Porgie, if you are familiar with nursery rhymes. Only the Georgie in this version, isn’t a girl kissing coward, he is the man who resides in the big white house and he is guilty of, “Kissing the world and making it cry.” Disappointing tracks on the album would be the Bobby Valentino assisted “International”; you only need to look at the people that Guru has featured on all his previous Hip-Hop/Jazz compilations to understand that Guru is “international.” However the monotony of “International” can be overlooked thanks to an interesting choice of supporting cast (from Dionne Farris to  Blackalicious) and his addictive vocals, Jazzmatazz Vol. 4 will be a hit for those who understand and appreciate the “Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger.”

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