Guru

In Jazzmatazz's artistic-statement-ahead intro, rapper Guru declares, "This is an experimental fusion of jazz and hip-hop," adding with professional seriousness that hip-hop, like jazz, is a "cultural expression based on reality."

No matter what Guru's intent, you can't deny Jazzmatazz's groove. He hooks up with musicians Branford Marsalis, Courtney Pine, Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd and singers N'dea Davenport (who steals the show on the sassy "Trust Me") and Carleen Anderson. The result is more acid jazz (a hybrid of rap, funk and jazz) than traditional jazz and not half as experimental as Guru would like you to think, but the excursion has its fluid, funky moments. Among them: "Transit Ride," a subway travelogue that's sure to upset New York City officials, and "Le Bien, Le Mal," a showcase for the U.S. debut of Parisian star MC Solaar. A French-speaking rapper throwing down over American pop/jazz tracks says more about hip-hop's importance than any of Guru's well-intentioned preaching. (Chrysalis)

  • Contributors:
  • Billy Altman,
  • Amy Linden,
  • Michael Small.