October 26, 2000

Test Spins

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Guru is very similar to George W. Bush. Bush is considered to be not very intelligent, but he has staff around him who know what they’re doing and advise him well.

Guru is not much of a rapper. But on Streetsoul, he surrounds himself with intelligent and talented artists. Each of the 14 tracks features a different artist, ranging all the way from Macy Gray to Isaac Hayes.

Sometimes he combines well with his featured artist and, well, sometimes he doesn’t.

For instance, “Plenty” with Erykah Badu is a really smooth jazz piece. Badu sounds like Ella Fitzgerald and Guru’s raps are an interesting addendum to her jazzy style.

On “Who’s There” with Les Nubians, a strong beat line and great hook carry Guru, despite his rather pedestrian raps about crime and his son.

But Isaac Hayes’ feature is laughably bad, perhaps only because one can’t take Hayes seriously now that he is a full-timer over at South Park. The Roots’ talents are wasted on “Lift Your Fist” as Guru features more of himself than the far more talented hip-hop legends.

Guru’s Jazzmatazz starts out somewhat “soulful,” but the weak raps mostly bring down the talent he features to bring the album up.

Archived article by Jason Weinstein