Like Eazy-E juggling success between N.W.A. and his illustrious solo career, GURU first proved that he could be huge whether the MC for Gangstarr or the host with the most on his Jazzmatazz releases. So many new talents have unveiled new labels and introduced boring artists while true visionaries like GURU have let his Ill Kid Records grow dusty.
In the coming year, that legacy will be revitalized. GURU and partner Solar [not the French rapper], are presenting Seven Grand to the public. A new label, a new vision, and a new platform for GURU's celebrated solo releases - plus a home to future artists.
Check up on the new side of one of Hip-Hop's most beloved voices. In a conversation with AllHipHop.com, Solar and GURU share their vision, and reflect on social changes, and what's prompting them to go this route.
AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about the new project and the new direction.
GURU: We’ve got a new project a new venture. The label is called Seven Grand and the project is called Guru Version 7.0, it’s dated for release April 19,2005. After which, we’ll be releasing Jazzmatazz Volume 4. And we’re very excited about the label because it’s a chance for Solar and myself to take total control over our musical destiny, so to speak. Being that I came in the game when everybody was you know signing into major’s and things like that and the whole independent thing wasn’t that big, all the entrepreneur and stuff that have spawn from that came after you know my era. But I was able to look at the younger cats and see what they were doing and learn from that. As a pose to being one of those bitter cats you know whose looking at the younger cats in a spiteful way and so forth, I could never be that dude. So, I saw the changes and the evolution in the game and made some moves, and here we are with the new label Seven Grand and the new project...
Solar: ...At the same time, these cats who’ve been doing that, they don’t have the experience that [GURU] has. So it’s like in essence - looking at what’s there, and saying how can we make this better? And at the same time just like we’ve learned from them. It’s an opportunity to let them learn from us.
GURU: That’s what Hip-Hop should be about, that’s what it was about an exchange of information. .
AllHipHop.com: But how is this different from Ill Kid Records?
GURU: Well, in the early years I dabbled in some independent ventures - Ill Kid, one of them. I brought out artist like Jeru, Group Home, and Bahamadia, and that was basically my training ground. But with Seven Grand, I wanted to start with something new. Everything is new with me right now. I’ve gotten ride of a lot of middlemen so to speak, and we're at the helm now, controlling it and it feels good...
Solar: And with a solid vision. Ill Kid, once again, is almost like Gangstarr - it had it’s own identity, a small identity of course compared to Gangstarr, and with Seven Grand it’s more designed, more thought out, more of something that sees different stages of development as it goes along. So this is one stage, but then we’ll see another stage, and then another stage.
AllHipHop.com: So what does Seven Grand stand for?
GURU: Well, seven is a divine number. So we see seven as the representation of perfection, a perfect number, or the seventh letter of the alphabet - which is G, which represents GOD. And grand means something of a large or extraordinary measure.
AllHipHop.com: Any new artist that you might be working with?
GURU: Well right now, it’s just myself. We're focused on getting me to that level that I should be at - reintroducing me to the market. I been away from the scene so to speak, I haven't really been away. I been in the lab of course, creating new songs for over two years now. I mean we have over 40 to 50 songs now. What we did first is put out some singles to bubble the streets and to give the streets back, and the audience back the love that they have shown me over the years. Currently we have a single on vinyl in the market that’s called “Cave In” that’s been out now about three months now. This is my first time rhyming at 116 beats per minute, so it’s real up-tempo, club banger, B-boy. We're about to shot a video to that, and the next singles that we’ll have is called, "Surviving the Game" which I believe by the first of the year, should be out on vinyl.
AllHipHop.com: How can that cult following stay well-informed into the album?
GURU: You can get updates and info on the web site which is www.GURUGANGSTARR.com.
AllHipHop.com: Besides the single, has the public had a chance to get ready?
GURU: We’ve been touring around the U.S. and abroad. We have a real interesting live show, and it’s something that people should defiantly get a chance to come out and see. Of course we do the classic Gangstarr stuff, and we do the classic Jazzmatazz stuff, and then we introduce four or five new songs, and then we have DJ Doo-Wop, the mixtape king from the Bronx, cutting it up. It's real interesting because he adds a real fly flavor to the show, and he be spittin' with me in certain parts, you know so people get a little shocked when they see the DJ rhyming. My favorite artist always reinvent themselves and so that’s how I’m looking at it. What would your favorite artist do at this point in his or her career? So this is what the GURU doing, I’m going to that "7.0" level. It's just like when you upgrade ya AOL.
AllHipHop.com What specific things can we see that are going to be different?
GURU: Basically, [I am] looking way sharper then he’s looked in many years.Two years, no drinking, I’m just a different dude right now, very focused, in shape, [I] lost a lot of weight.
Solar: That's dedication to the art-form. [There] comes a time when you just have to let the negative things in ya life go to achieve the positive things that you want to achieve and succeed. And that cuts across any age-line. If you really trying to succeed in something, you have to look in ya life and see what's negative and holding you back, cut that lose and then go with the positive. [There's] that star-life with all that negativity hanging around him, and drain and dragging. So that had to go, There’s a new GURU in a sense that he cleaned his self up, so he’s ready for the people, and the people are ready for him. When I listen to the new records that he’s done - and I love everything that he’s done prior - [but] there's a new vibrance there, a new thirst, a new truth.
AllHipHop.com: Are you the man behind all the new beats?
Solar: No, we co-produce.
GURU: It’s taken us almost a three-year period putting this all together, and it's brilliant if I must say so.
AllHipHop.com: So behind the music, what's the change?
GURU: [There were] too many chefs in the kitchen - everybody making suggestion manager, lawyer, and all that. I went through it, and restructured my whole organization, got rid of a lot of people, got some new people.
Solar: You’ll get a cleaner, clearer idea of what GURU’s vision is as opposed to what Virgin’s vision was. Not that it was wrong, we're not trying to be negative, but it just comes that time, once again, when we have to grow and feel free to go to people without all these middle people to deal with. Because we know when we go out, we don’t go out with security. We're amongst the people.