January 17, 2022

Guru - The Best of Guru's Jazzmatazz (2008)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 509995 19059 27

© 2008 Virgin/EMI Records
Credit Guru for keeping his career alive and relevant after he and DJ Premier moved on in their careers apart from one another. The first album from his Jazzmatazz series, out in 1993, was a fresh, invigorating look at the possibilities of hip-hop, right smack in the Native Tongues era of the genre, when the smoother beats of Tribe and De La Soul ran supreme. Unfortunately, the subsequent releases didn't quite live up to the innovation and interest of the original, but this, a collection of tracks from the first three installments, is still a decent look back at what he's done. The Best of Guru's Jazzmatazz doesn't pull any material from after 2000, but the lack of anything from Vol. 4 (which was decent enough in its own right, but hardly jazz) doesn't hurt the compilation. The MC's ability to attract top-name jazz and soul artists is certainly impressive, as everyone from Erykah Badu to Ramsey Lewis to N'Dea Davenport to Lonnie Liston Smith have made appearances throughout the years (and are all included here), and though his own rapping abilities can be shaky at times, The Best Of captures him and his friends at their strongest and most inspired. However, there is a definite style progression as the album makes its way through its 18 tracks (three of which -- the remixes of "Respect the Architect" and "Loungin'," and "Choices" from the 2000 Laurence Fishburne film Once in the Life -- are bonuses). By the time "Supa Love," which features Kelis and is from Streetsoul, arrives, it's a little unclear why the series was still called Jazzmatazz at all, and though the other guests here (the RootsBadu) sound good, the songs diverge wildly from what Guru had attempted with his earlier, actually jazz-driven numbers. That being said, The Best Of still does a pretty decent job of conveying Guru's overall vision and (post-Gang Starr) career, even if Vol. 1 is a better and more fulfilling listen and musical endeavor.

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tags: guru, the best of gurus jazzmatazz, 2008, flac,