October 19, 2021

Guru - Jazzmatazz, Volume 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: SGR007
.FLAC via Florenfile
.AAC 256 kbps via Florenfile

© 2007 7 Grand Records
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future Review by Marisa Brown
Although Guru's been putting out new editions in his Jazzmatazz series for almost 15 years now, none of the releases has gotten quite the same amount of acclaim as 1993's Vol. 1, which was one of the first examples, and certainly the best, of how actual live jazz could be used and mixed with hip-hop. He collected a wide selection of players and vocalists and ended up with what has been one of the most respected rap albums ever, with a trans-genre appeal that's been hard to match. Vol. 4 continues in this direction, though more often than not the jazzy horn breaks and piano grooves are replaced with more contemporary sounding beats. This isn't to say that the production's not good here (it's done entirely by a very skillful Solar), but it ventures into more straightforward hip-hop territory than most of the other volumes did. "Kissed the World," a witty anti-Bush track, uses a poppy piano line and synth strings, while "Stand Up (Somethings'll Never Change)" features Damien Marley and mixes Afro drum rhythms with Marley's reggae call. "Follow the Signs" is more guitar-based than any other song, and "Connection" has a smooth R&B feel. Guru, of course, holds his own on the mic, and though his lyrics do tend to veer towards the typical braggadocio, he has enough history behind him, as well as some pretty good lines ("I serve a rapper like an ace from Agassi,") he spits on "Infinite," which features Blackalicious' Gift of Gab and is one of the best tracks on the entire album as he employs insightful social commentary to back these statements up. Jazzmatazz is the MC's baby, and at this point is funded by him and his company, 7 Grand Records, but he doesn't let this take him overboard. He's clearly dedicated to it, yes, but he's experienced and talented enough to keep it from being a project of indulgence, using outside help (besides Gab and Marley, Common and David Sanborn, among others, also show up here) to keep the ideas and sounds interesting to all those -- listeners included -- involved, and making, ultimately, for a successful accomplishment.

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tags: guru, jazzmatazz volume 4, vol 4, 2007, flac,