Guru 'Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1'

Guru 'Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1'

Though it can reasonably be argued that rap grew almost directly out of funk and its particular beat, there are a lot of overlaps with jazz, particularly the bop and post-bop eras: the uninhibited expression, the depiction of urban life, just to name two.

Jazz samples have also had a large role in hip-hop, but the idea of rapping over actual live jazz wasn't truly fully realized until Gang Starr MC Guru created and released the first in his Jazzmatazz series in 1993, with guest musicians who included Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Ronny Jordan, and Lonnie Liston Smith.

While Guru's rhymes can occasionally be a little weak ("Think they won't harm you? Well they might/And that ain't right, but every day is like a fight" are the lines he chooses to describe kids on the subway in Brooklyn in "Transit Ride"), he delves into a variety of subject matter, from the problems of inner-city life to his own verbal prowess to self-improvement without ever sounding too repetitive, and his well-practiced flow fits well with the overall smooth, sultry, and intelligent feel of the album.

From Jordan's solo on "No Time to Play" to Ayers' vibes expertise on "Take a Look (At Yourself)", Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 is a rap album for jazz fans and a jazz album for rap fans, skillful and smart, clean when it needs to be and gritty when that's more effective, helping to legitimize hip-hop to those who doubted it, and making for an altogether important release.

R.I.P. Guru

Elektrons - Red Light Don't Stop

Elektrons - Red Light Don't Stop

Before I moved to the UK one of my most trusted music geek friends insisted that the Unabombers were the DJs that were kicking the crap out of everyone else. Somehow, after almost 4 years, I've still not managed to see them (they're based in Manchester and being a dirty Londoner I don't get out much).

This album is their first attempt at translating their famous party sound into original material. It's certainly got the party vibe happening. The opening track, Get Up, went straight into my record bag - anything that kicks off with a massive drum roll building up to the funky horns is bound to get the party started.

Some bits of it come across as sounding rather like Basement Jaxx - though it's definitely more disco. There are a few stand out tracks - the little sing-along number, Classic Cliche, being my pick of the moment.

Would love to go to a club night with this lot - I think this work is probably a good indication of how much fun would be had by all.

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