Didn’t know Guru passed away on April 19th. I loved most of the Jazzmatazz works that he did on his own, but more importantly, his work with DJ Premier as Gang Starr will remain significant in the ever changing state of hip-hop.
DJ Premier solidified his position as one of hip hop’s greatest producer because he fashioned complex sampling techniques with gritty 808s. Guru then laced his laid back and jazzy rap on top. This was the sound of Gang Starr: grit, yet smooth.
Guru was a champion for the fusion of jazz and hip hop. He remained consistent, never stepping beyond his mastery of fluid, easy-going rhymes. Guru enlisted the efforts of many, yet no one (maybe MC Solaar) could ever replicate soulful delivery.
I remember & reminisce on the first time I heard Gang Starr. The beats made you think of the streets of New York, and when Guru started rapping, you would feel like he’s guiding you through the politics, crime, and every day drama of the streets.
I really hope hip hop recognizes Guru as the definitive jazz / hip hop MC of all time.
Here are some links to check out his work.
Gang Starr – Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr
Guru – Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1