Guru and Solar: The Struggle for Balance

A wise

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.


Guru’s 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 chopped it up with two legendary and under-appreciated artists.

Keep in mind that fine line….it’s almost transparent. Who are Solar and Guru for those who may not


Guru: I’m the

legendary Guru the Guru of Hip-Hop I’m that dude that’s 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,” I’m a born and raised

thoroughbred New Yorker.


One thing I forgot, I’m 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, it’s

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 didn’t 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, don’t you realize you’re 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 wasn’t being properly represented so that’s

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 wasn’t 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 that’s 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. We’re back to the basics of Hip-Hop. We’re

not selling perfumes, clothes or anything (Laughs).

As you

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

this generation?


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. What’s 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 didn’t 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 isn’t 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 that’s 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. I’m not going to put you on the road to hell I’m 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 don’t 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 doesn’t look like he was too concerned about Bling. Its fine

if you want that [drug dealer] but don’t 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, let’s let them breathe a little bit, ok?

I’m sensing you feel like the youth is being misled?

Guru: It’s

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 don’t know what they are capable of? They’re just

doing what these corporations tell them to do.




We want to keep these lines of communication open I

am going to say that this generation has the mindset “What can you do for me,”



I don’t agree I’m a member of it I would know a thing or


Solar: If you consider yourself a member of it, then maybe

I’ve met more people from your generation than you have. 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 we’re speaking, you feel our energy.

When you come to our shows it’s not a problem for us to chop it up with our fans

on whatever level it is. We don’t 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 you’re stuck in this mode of commercialism you’re

not apart of our core fan base. [Our fan base are] people that stopped listening

to the radio because they didn’t like what they’re hearing. This isn’t a US

thing; this is a whole world thing. In comparison to the rest of the world, the

US is behind.

Solar: We’re not saying don’t listen to the commercial stuff

we’re just saying find balance and don’t chastise people that want to hear

something different. With your Jazzmatazz series, is there a particular

reason why Jazz music appealed to you fuse with Hip-Hop in comparison with other

music genres?

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. It’s 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 didn’t like that. That’s when Guru was genius enough to approach the

Jazz musicians to work with them exclusively. 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. It’s very odd

that we’re not receiving Grammy nominations. 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

though. 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 Have you ever considered selling out in order to make

it big?

Solar: They did offered us a sellout deal 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 isn’t 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 :

Both of you seem to be pretty passionate about the youth. What are you doing for

the Youth?

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 can’t control who our parents are. Life afforded me the

opportunity to take a different route therefore I’m giving back to those that

may not have otherwise had that opportunity.