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Guru  - Best of Jazzmatazz  
Back in 1993, few would have guessed that Guru would stand alongside Mary J. Blige as one of the foremost purveyors of hip-hop soul.  But after fifteen years and four editions of Jazzmatazz, it is clear that the series has been an important bridge between two generations of black music, always reminding hip-hop of its soul and jazz roots. 

Best Of is more than a quick listen through the highlights of the Jazzmatazz series.  It also serves as a snapshot for where urban music has been over the last decade and a half.  Early cuts like the iconic "Loungin'" and "Down The Backstreets" take you back to the era when the fusion of jazz and hip-hop seemed an obvious one with a bright future, as older artists like Donald Byrd and Lonnie Liston Smith exchanged ideas with the new school.

By the time of the second Jazzmatazz, The New Reality, we can hear the influence of acid-jazz and the flowering of neosoul, represented by appearaces from Dee C Lee ("Choice Of Weapons"), Jamiroquai ("Lost Souls") and Mica Paris ("Looking Through Darkness").  One notices a reduced number of jazz artists on the album, but the presence of Kenny Garrett, Ronny Jordan, and Freddie Hubbard ensured the jazz flavor was still present.

With Streetsoul, the third volume of Jazzmatazz, the commercial domination of hip-hop soul was confirmed, as the collaborators came almost exclusively from the r&b world, with the sole exception being the genre-hopping Herbie Hancock.  Still, tracks like "Supa Love" (featuring Kelis) and the Erykah Badu-blessed "Plenty" are fresher than much of the current sample-based r&b of today.  

Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: Back to the Future, which is not covered by this collection, indeed finds Guru going back to the formula of The New Reality as he balances guest shots from jazzers Bob James, Ronnie Laws and David Sanborn with apperances by Omar, Raheem Devaughn, and Blackalicious.    

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