New track from the latest Large Pro solo album, Re: Living, which is out 9 June. Fat Beats are doing a bundle including the CD, tape, vinyl and sticker, which is limited to 100 packs and available here.
Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted by Bill Zimmerman in 2007 for the now defunct print edition of Modern Fix magazine prior to the release of Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger. This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Guru’s passing.
The self-proclaimed “king of monotone,” Guru possessed one of the most unmistakable voices in hip-hop. Honest and authoritative, he delivered music over three decades, most notably in Gang Starr with DJ Premier as well as through genre-bending Jazzmatazz solo efforts. What follows are excerpts from an unpublished interview with Guru and Solar in 2007. It’s a snapshot of Guru’s late 2000s, post-Gang Starr career. It shows two men focused on making their own lane and taking creative chances in the leadup to what would be Guru’s final Jazzmatazz project. Despite all the drama and confusion that would ensue, Guru made a mark on hip-hop. That’s indisputable.
Bill: Guru, one the previous Jazzmatazz projects you were working with multiple producers. What was it like just sticking with Solar on this one?
Guru: Actually, the only one with multiple producers was the third one (Street Soul). The first one (Vol. 1) I produced, the second one (Vol. 2: The New Reality) I produced and then the third one multiple (producers). Actually, after the third one I said I wanted to go back to working with just one producer because I left like the third one – even though I had like a lot of big name producers – it came out more like a compilation than it did an organic work. It’s still one of my favorites joints, but it was something about the cohesiveness of one producer bringing everything together. After teaming up with Solar – first of all when I first started hearing his music that was after we were friends already for two years. Then we decided to do the label. We were introduced six years ago – he took me to his lab so I could hear some tracks, and it was crazy because it was almost like he read my mind because I was looking for a future sound, a new sound for myself. All my favorite artists are able to do that – to recreate and renew and then reinvent. So, when I heard his tracks, I was like, “Oh, man.” I was blown away and actually took some stuff home right then. Our first release came out in 2005 on 7 Grand. That was called Guru Version 7.0 The Street Scriptures, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. That was just the introduction to this new chemistry. Now, at this point, the chemistry is just more intense, so this album is definitely proof of that. (more…)
Back in 2013, I got to chat to Black Rob for ten minutes as he was on his way to the studio. This time around I tried not to repeat the same questions, but unfortunately I caught him as he was trying to catch some food. Guess some things just aren’t meant to work out, huh? Regardless, you can catch Black Rob’s new LP, Genuine Article, is out 21 April.
Robbie: Were Spoonie Gee and Doug E. Fresh a big influence on you when you were a kid?
Black Rob: Hell yeah! Parties, break-outs – the whole shit! Doug E. Fresh was definitely slamming, man. I already wanted to my thing, but it gave me some inspiration to tbe best that I could be.
What was it like growing in Harlem?
It was different, man. A lotta kids was doing what they had to do, playing around and not doing music, so I came in there doing music. I used to have the parties jumping, little freestyles and all that stuff. Hear that shit out the window. I used to be the number one guy, but I was too young to really comprehend what I was going through, cos I was just stretching out. But I was nice though! [laughs] (more…)
Here’s something from my drafts folder that I forgot to post from a couple of years ago…
For many people, Twitter is nothing more than a self-indulgent stream of fuckybergs telling the world how many pieces of French toast they consumed at brunch. Last Monday, that all changed, after some struggle “comedian” lady finally got “sanger” Chris Brown to shut down his Twitter account following a heated exchange revolving around his previous treatment of Rihanna (of “Rihanna Plane” fame, natch). Turns out this Jenny Johnson character has been trolling C. Brown for years, and the main flaw in her argument had nothing to do with what happened to Rihanna’s face and everything to do with her misguided attempt to correct Chris’ spelling:
@chrisbrown: take them teeth out when u Sucking my dick HOE.
@JennyJohnsonHi5 It’s “HO” not “HOE” you ignorant fuck.
I found compelled to point out that there is in fact an “E” in “Hoe,” which resulted in an in-depth academic debate between myself, rapper/producer/author/drummer J-Zone and musical maestro/Ralph Lauren chandelier owner Just Blaze as to the correct spelling of the term according to old rap songs. While I was strongly in the “E” camp, J-Zone produced compelling evidence that it was only when used as a plural that the “E” was required, according to most Miami and mid western records (Geto Boys’ “Let A Ho Be A Ho”, Willie Dee‘s “Bald Head Hoes”). Not to be discouraged, I continued to produce examples of “hoe” in the singular, while Just Blaze played tennis umpire. It was a stalemate once we established that the East Coast favoured the “E” and the West dropped it, with the fact that Too $hort used to “Pimp The Ho” until 2011, when he suddenly adapted the “E.” (more…)
First single from the second Czarface album, Every Hero Needs A Villain, due this summer.
DJ 7L sez:
First leak from the new Czarface record is “Deadly Class” featuring Meyhem Lauren. Been a fan of his for a minute, we linked up a few years back at the BAU release party which was around when we were working on the new Czar album. I think Eso and Deck have never sounded better I really can’t wait for the fans to hear it. This song was recorded at the mid point of the album and remembering hearing it and was like “man this keeps getting better”. Eso added that chop at the end with iphone battery line that to me is just genius with the sample. This is just the leak, more info music, art on the way!
Unlike Cold Crush Brother‘s ‘Punk Rock Rap,’ this vaulted Cosmic Force entry into the ‘punk rap’ canon is redeemed by a lack of fake cockney accents, the always reliable vocoder and the fact that it interpolates Michael McDonalds’ ‘I Keep Forgetting‘ 13 years before Dr. Dre’s stepbrother Warren G enlisted Nate Dogg to give it that extra ‘G’ quality.
Young Zee of the Outsidaz is finally getting an official release of his shelved 1996 album on cassette and CD through Gentleman’s Relief Records on 28 April (with liner notes from dedicated Outsidaz disciple Werner), having previously been issued over a couple of EP’s by Dope Folks Records.
United Crates has put together a superb collection of Ason Unique deep cuts and freestyles to mark the recent 20th anniversary of the Return To The 36 Chambers album. A timely reminder that Wu-Tang is for the children.
Following up the the first Bob James Unkut compilation from 2008, here are 24 more sure-shots based around my all-time favorite sample source – ‘Nautilus’. Considering that Bob James’ masterpiece is so chock-full of ill sounds, every interpretation takes on a life of it’s own, from the mournful ‘Sincerity’, the melodic swing of ‘Once Upon A Rhyme’ and the swirling menace of ‘Iceberg Slick’ to the tense understatement of ‘Let Em Have It L’ and ‘Mystery’.
After transcribing my video interview with Tuff City founder Aaron Fuchs recently, I came across this intriguing quote:
Aaron Fuchs: The Bronx and Harlem were worlds apart cultural by the time the 70’s happened, because Harlem’s a community and The Bronx was burnt-out, but they were geographically very close to each other. You had hip-hop evolve like a weed, like top seed and bang! The Harlem record guys take over. You had Spoonie Gee, who was really an R&B guy who was rapping instead of singing. You had this truncating of what hip-hop was into the constraints of the Harlem record business. These couple of [Cold Crush Brothers] records actually reflect what hip-hop was before it was a record business. This crazy, formless, sprawling kind of music. You wonder sometimes would would have happened to hip-hop had The Bronx had not been so close to Harlem and was so quickly engulfed by the vastly deeper traditions of Harlem.
As a member of The Chosen Few, Trio Connection and Black By Demand, CJ Moore did his thing as a rapper in the 80’s while honing his skills as an engineer and mixer. Here are some examples of CJ in action on the mic and behind the boards.
DJ Cash Money: Wow my man Too Tuff just sent me this…I haven’t heard this in years…The Cash Money Echo Scratch on Lady B’s Show…..Talk about taking me back? I remember the day after this was on the radio..I would hear everyone blasting this out of their cars…”Jerome is the King”…JJJJJerome is the jigajigajiga King….Hahahahahaha….I have to show what i did that scratch on….Classic Times!!!!
I used this machine to do this scratch…I turned this sideways and put masking tape on the delay fader so i couldn’t go up on the volume….Those were the days when you had to really think on being creative…The technology wasn’t there yet..So hearing this will always have a special place in my heart because this was the beginning of me starting to get recognized for what i do today….This was late 80’s….
While I was staying in New Jersey mid 2013, I attempted to shoot some footage of the original Flavor Unit crew. As it happened, I only managed to get Chill Rob G on film, and after watching the video back I’ve decided that this plays better as a written piece. While some of the same stuff from our 2006 conversation is covered, Rob also went into a lot more detail on some topics, making it a worthwhile piece on it’s own. Not to mention that Ride The Rhythm still stands as one of the strongest and most original releases of 1989.
Robbie: You mentioned that you went through a few different names when you were younger?
Chill Rob G: When I first started I had an identity crisis, I had a bunch of different names. It was Jazzy B, it was Bobby G, it was Killer B – cos my name was Robert. I was down with a couple of different crews too. I was down with The World Rap Crew and I was down with the Dignified Almighty Magnificent MC’s – Those D.A.M. MC’s. When all of that fell apart I just kept rapping on my own. I used to practice with my man Michael Ali, be up at his house every single day, making tapes. When I said that on the record it was true!
Were these beats that he’d made?
He tried to make beats but they was [blows raspberry]. I would just rap over popular rap records. He would try to cut the break. He wasn’t really that good a DJ either – but that was my man back then. [laughs] We would make tapes and try to get it out to the drug dealers, cos they’d be out all night. They would play that music and people would get a chance to hear me rap. (more…)