Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Guru - Jazzmatazz Volume 1 LP


Music On Vinyl (2022, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

When this album originally came out in 1993, I was a huge Gang Starr fan.  I was quite obsessed with Gang Starr's third album that had come out the prior year, Daily Operation.  When I saw the video for the the song "Loungin," I immediately tracked down a copy of the album.

At the time I remember liking it, but being a little disappointed when comparing it to Daily Operation.  From a production standpoint, this album has more in common with something like Tribe Called Quest than it does Gang Starr, but that's fine, I love Tribe.  Where the record lost me back then (and now a bit to, if I'm being honest), where the really long stretches in a lot of songs where Guru isn't rapping and the preponderance of R&B style singing in the choruses of more than a few songs.

I have been hunting for a copy of this for a while.  Music On Vinyl reissued it in 2018, but I must have just missed the boat as I could only find it for really high collector's prices for the past few years.  But luck finally changed and MOV reissued it again this year, allowing me to pick up a copy at a more reasonable price.

Listening to it now, I have an even greater appreciation for what Guru was trying to do.  He's definitely pushing the jazz envelop further than most groups of that era.  That said, the complaints I have from when I was sixteen are mostly the same ones I have now.  Too much singing and too many horn solos.  When it's Guru rhyming over jazzy beats, I love it.  When it meanders, I tend to be less interested.  He did three volumes of these Jazzmatazz records.  I've never heard the other two and I think it's time to correct that.

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