Guru

Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4 (7 Grand)

Almost 15 years after the release of the series' first volume, erstwhile Gang Starr frontman Guru has definitely grown in character. But with this latest disc, he seems to be reaching for Starbucks instead of 125th and Broadway, with a few notable exceptions. It features an all-star guest lineup, including Damian Marley on the Apache-infused "Stand Up," Ronnie Laws, David Sandborn, and Slum Village, while Guru stays positive with his monotone flow. Still, he seems to lack the swagger that sent the first three Jazzmatazz volumes gold. Produced entirely by Solar, who favors neo-soul and R&B, more "matazz" than jazz, Volume 4 tries to add flavor by revisiting classic Seventies sounds. It works well on "Look to the Sun" and "The Jazz Style" but fails on "Kissed the World," featuring Caron Wheeler, even though the George Bush-related subject matter could have made it an anthem. The combination of Guru, Common, and Bob James on "State of Clarity" promises much more and serves as a wake-up call to the hip-hop generation, with the G-u-r-u spitting lines like "Protect my mind with nines, as it shines more than jewelry." Although this Jazzmatazz volume is an unwelcome departure from the earlier editions, new listeners might still find it a good introduction to the series.

 
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