person once said, There is a fine line between passion and anger or maybe that
was just me. Former Gang Starr member and founder Guru and his exclusive
producer Solar walk that line better than Johnny Cash. Like many others in
Hip-Hop, these two have an inherit problem with what is being publicized and regarded as good music. Not to be confused, these dudes claim they do not hate on
anyone, they are simply seeking a balance. Frustrated with the direction that
music is headed towards; Solar and Guru make it clear that their music is for
those who share that same frustration.
has been breaking down barriers in the Hip-Hop since he parted ways with longtime partner DJ Premier and began building a brand from his Jazzmatazz series. A fusion of live Jazz instrumentation
and Hip-Hop, this series is up to its fourth volume, and has received
acclaim throughout the Jazz and Hip-Hop world.
Gurus latest release, he along with Solar attempt to attract the same success. However, the tone of
this interview may offset the original purpose of the music. These two
definitely have something say. Please read what happened when
AllHipHop.com chopped it up with two legendary and under-appreciated artists.
Keep in mind that fine line .its almost transparent.
AllHipHop.com: Who are Solar and Guru for those who may not
Guru: Im the
legendary Guru the Guru of Hip-Hop Im that dude thats known for spitting
positive and intelligent streetwise lyrics. Founder of the classic group
Gang Starr and founder of Jazzmatazz. I was the first one to put live jazz with
Hip-Hop. It started in 1993 with three volumes and the fourth is in stores
I am Solar, some call me Super-producer Solar, Im a born and raised
thoroughbred New Yorker.
One thing I forgot, Im the president and Solar is the CEO of Seven Grand
What made the two of you come together as partners in music as well as
We never worked previously. There was a disinformation campaign launched by
enemies against myself and Guru. They were identifying me as MC Solar which is
ridiculous and idiotic. I will assert I am Solar from NY, The God Solar, its
not a showbiz name it is my attribute of power I represent righteousness and
what it true and positive in the world of music and every aspect of human
living. I am not the DJ from France. That is the result of a disinformation
Thanks for clearing that up ..
How did we get together, that was the question right?
Solar and I were introduced by a mutual friend about six or seven years ago. We
hit it off, we got along, you could feel the chemistry. It went beyond the
music. We started hanging out, getting our swerve on and hitting a few clubs.
That was at a time when I would complain about these so-called A&R execs
that were stifling my creative flow and I didnt like it, I was sick of
and I] were out one night and I was complaining and Solar was like Why don't you
start your own label, dont you realize youre an icon? I thought about it and
it stuck with me. I hollered at him a few days later and said that I wanted to
do this label thing. Solar was like Good Luck. Then I was like, Nah I want
you to do it with me. He thought NY wasnt being properly represented so thats
when we started formulated our business. That was in late 2004, we put out the first
joint on Seven Grand entitled Guru
Version 7.0: The Street
Scriptures. It was one of the most slept on and hated Hip-Hop albums of all
time. That record got hate because it wasnt the Guru in Gang Starr with my old
crew, but at the same time that hate put more light into it. It was one of the
top selling independent releases in 2005 in the world. That enabled us to get a
bigger distribution situation for Jazzmatazz 4, which was in August 2007. Now
you got the Timebomb/Back to the Future Mixtape CD, the raw that came out on February 19th.
Solar: Basically Seven Grand Records was created out of the
struggle of the people to have something thats good and tangible. We all know
that after the Golden Era of Hip-Hop left us we got the Bling Era. Solar is
not here and Guru is not here to tell you how big my girls butt is, how good she
tastes or how many Maybachs I own. Were back to the basics of Hip-Hop. Were
not selling perfumes, clothes or anything (Laughs).
both know, this a whole new generation with everything from how music is
perceived down to how we get our music. What are Guru and Solar doing to reach
Reaching out is actually after the fact. Our concerts are sold out. Our
demographic is ridiculous going as young as 12. Last tour, Aspen, Colorado was
sold out. Whats going to happen with this next album is going to shock the
world. We are trying to reach those as young as 10 so that in 5 years they can
recognize the work. People didnt know what the Bible was until years later. We
started this as a label and what the people have ordained it to be its become a
Please explain .
This isnt a movement to make Guru and Solar materially rich, but rich
spiritually. We know that there are
young intelligent heads out there that have felt so abused. How you can tell a
kid that works at McDonalds that his life is full of s**t and that he cannot
pull that beautiful girl because the next kid has a chain and sells drugs. How
can someone do that to the young black community who has suffered for 400 years
in America? We love those kids [that work at McDonalds]. I tell them to keep
their personalities sharp, brush them teeth brushed and they can have that
beautiful girl. I tell them to keep a sharp wit and that kid thats selling
drugs, where are they going to end up? Dead? In jail? In a wheelchair? Well
Solar and Guru love those kids too. I say come and talk to me and let me put you
straight. Im not going to put you on the road to hell Im going to put you on
the path to heaven. Look at us a shelter in a storm of evil.
is no reason why these young ladies are putting these young dudes down because
they dont have. Stop it, get your mind right! That young brother could grow up
and become a doctor, lawyer, congressman or president. We are about to have a
black president. He doesnt look like he was too concerned about Bling. Its fine
if you want that [drug dealer] but dont put down those who are down for the
Seven Grand Movement. They have been shitted on for about eight years now during
this Bling Era, lets let them breathe a little bit, ok?
Im sensing you feel like the youth is being misled?
not even the rappers. I have some of the best lyricists that talk about the
times we are living in. People are losing their houses, kids talking about the
military because there are no jobs. The economy is in a shit hole. I say that to
those that are rapping the other way.
How can we blame them if we dont know what they are capable of? Theyre just
doing what these corporations tell them to do.
We want to keep these lines of communication open
am going to say that this generation has the mindset What can you do for me,
I dont agree
AllHipHop.com: Im a member of it I would know a thing or
Solar: If you consider yourself a member of it, then maybe
Ive met more people from your generation than you have.
AllHipHop.com: Maybe, but doubt it. With this being an instant
gratification society, what incentives are you providing through your material
to make the people of this generation (who may not know who Solar and Guru are)
want to listen to your music?
Solar: You hear how were speaking, you feel our energy.
When you come to our shows its not a problem for us to chop it up with our fans
on whatever level it is. We dont have big huge entourages and keep people
Guru: You can look at Solar and Guru as an alternative form
of Hip-Hop. We are dealing with issues of social propriety. With the term social
propriety I mean that we are taking responsibility for our fans and giving them
what they need and want. If youre stuck in this mode of commercialism youre
not apart of our core fan base. [Our fan base are] people that stopped listening
to the radio because they didnt like what theyre hearing. This isnt a US
thing; this is a whole world thing. In comparison to the rest of the world, the
US is behind.
Solar: Were not saying dont listen to the commercial stuff
were just saying find balance and dont chastise people that want to hear
AllHipHop.com: With your Jazzmatazz series, is there a particular
reason why Jazz music appealed to you fuse with Hip-Hop in comparison with other
Guru: Jazz is the basis for all types of music. There are
similarities between the cadence and the beat in. The Europeans seem to be
embracing it more and showing respect. Its a more organic form of
Solar: I tune into the social and political aspects of Jazz.
Jazz produced such things as the weed smoking [into music]. Jazz was a
sub-culture that embraced individuality. They dressed a certain way so that they
could identify one another. Much like Hip-Hop is today. The similarity could not
be ignored. All the great Hip-Hop groups were sampling Jazz tracks. Jazz
musicians didnt like that. Thats when Guru was genius enough to approach the
Jazz musicians to work with them exclusively.
AllHipHop.com: What sort of feedback have you gotten from Jazz
musicians in reference to Jazzmatazz?
Solar: They did a beautiful article in Jazz Times. There is
nothing but respect and accolades for us in the Jazz community. Its very odd
that were not receiving Grammy nominations.
AllHipHop.com: What artists were featured on the latest Jazzmatazz
Guru: Bob James, Common, Slum Village, David Sanborn, Dione
Farris, Raheem Devaughn, Bobby Valentino. We did this all ourselves and
independently. The record is such a good listen from beginning to end. The
production was so ill that when critics first heard it they thought that it was
sampled. There was no sampling, not to knock anyone who does sample
AllHipHop.com: Who did Solar and Guru collaborate with for The
Timebomb/Back to the Future release?
Guru: Damian Marley, Lord Tariq, Common, Zion I, Doo Wop,
Tony Touch, Aceyalone , Nature, K-Born, High Power and Mr. Lif to name a
few.AllHipHop.com: Have you ever considered selling out in order to make
Solar: They did offered us a sellout deal
AllHipHop.com: What do you constitute as a sellout deal?
Solar: We went to a major label. They played tracks such as 'Lean Back' and Drop It Like Its Hot and asked if we were willing to do this?
We kind of looked at the A&R in shock and said this isnt the kind of music
that we make. They offered Guru a solo deal without my production and he turned
down the big money to stay true to his art. When the smoke clears, art will be
art and the bullshit will be seen as nonsense.AllHipHop.com :
Both of you seem to be pretty passionate about the youth. What are you doing for
Solar: We have a non-profit organization called, "Each One
Counts." It is primarily geared towards homeless kids in the United States. I was
an orphan, we cant control who our parents are. Life afforded me the
opportunity to take a different route therefore Im giving back to those that
may not have otherwise had that opportunity.