Sunday, 22 March 2015

Guru "Jazzmatazz II The New Reality" (1995)

And we are back with the second installment of the legendary Guru's solo career records, "Jazzmatazz". This second record takes of where the last one left, giving us another helping of socially conscious Hip Hop fused with a current of Jazz that feels natural and organic. Its a chilled out record that doesn't try to push any new boundaries, but create a collection of enjoyable tracks within the parameters of the two music styles joining together. It has the same strengths and weakness as its predecessor, which wasn't much surprise, but did pull out some better numbers without changing the formula.

Just like before the production builds from a traditional format of samples and drum loops with a pallet of jazzy sounds and instruments that include guest musicians who contribute inconsistently as some numbers rely on samples, and others on live musicians, ie "Respect The Architect" which has pianist Ramsey Lewis gently painting the entire track with feel good keys, adding a steady variety over the repetitive beats. The inconsistency between ideas probably contributes to a varietal, richer listen in a record that has a fair few distinctive beats, but mostly its the instrumentals that take the light, rather then the guest musicians who include Brit Jamiroquai and Reggae singer Ini Kamoze.

With a fair collection of strong instrumentals Guru's presence is calming and laid back, which is fine but often his rhymes and presence on the track drift into the background as the messages and lyrics he convey are delivered in his typically one dimensional flow. Guru's tone and flow is steady but lacks an excitement or spark that leaves much of the lyrics out of mind. Theres plenty of positive messages and social commentary, but none of it packs a punch or a thought to ponder, and although the message is a good one, its delivery is tame. Overall its a collection of warm jazzy beats and mediocre rapping thats exemplified on "Count Your Blessings", where Guru tells his story of developing a positive outlook, expressed without any resolve or understanding that can be gravitated towards. I'm not hating on Guru, I like his style and hearing him flow, but here its an aesthetic enjoyment, more so than being at the mercy of his words.

Favorite Songs: Living In This World, Looking Through The Darkness, For You, Nobody Knows, Respect The Architect, Young Ladies, The Traveler, Choice Of Weapons
Rating: 5/10