Guru is one of the most seminal MC of the 90s (Can you be the most seminal? Most seminalest?) He’s best known for his work with DJ Premier, the biggest east-coast producer of ever. Guru approached Premier - who at that point was known as Martin and studied computer science - and they formed Gangstarr.
Being a big fan I was pretty stoked to be interviewing them. But when I arrived to meet them in their tiny Sheperds Bush hotel room, there were a few bummers.
Bummer 1: There was no sign of Premier. Turns out it was Guru and his current producer, Solar.
Bummer 2: I was hoping Guru would be wearing the leather hat/trouser combo as seen on the cover of No more Mr Nice Guy:
Bummer 3: Instead he had opted for a really small military cap and blue tinted sunglasses even though it was really dark in the room. I asked him to take them off before I took his picture.
They were both extremely nice but quite hard to interview as they only wanted to talk about their rubbish new album. They both kept banging on about “the current state of Hip Hop”, (probably the most annoying topic in the history of uncomfortable chats with people from the music industry).
I wanted to talk about Premier’s gun charge and the rumor that Guru and Q-Tip were gay rather than feign interest in the new album but their PR advised me not to bring up Gangstarr as it would piss them off.
Whats happened to Gangstarr? Can we expect Premier and you to work together again?
(This was a really awkward moment, especially as Guru stared at me for a good three seconds before answering the question)
Guru: I am Gangstarr. It’s happening now as we speak. It’s me baby! Come to a show and watch me perform Mass Appeal. You’ll see. Those were the slave days, I’m a free man now
How does your new partnership differ from Gangstarr:
Guru: No comparison, its a human dynamic. We are partners beyond the music. Solar and I met through mutual friends and I knew he had the heat. He took me to his spot and I was like “Shit, what you been doing with all this shit?” What we are doing has never been done, I am adding a whole new chapter to an illustrious career.
Have you been influenced by music from this decade?
Guru: I like Lady Ga Ga
Solar: She’s taking the world by storm yo.
What about UK urban acts?
Guru: We collaborated with Yungun on our last record, so, you know, I think his work is brilliant. I’m familiar with Wiley, Chipmunk, Kino (sic) and the whole grime scene.
What’s the aim of your label Seven Grand?
Guru: I would say Seven Grand represents intelligent creative leadership at a time when it is necessary for Hip Hop to grow.
Solar: We are standing strong and we are gonna keep the thing alive. All these people (other labels) are so arrogant, they’re not selling millions of records, its a scam, they’re no different to these Wall Street bankers. They flood the market with garbage. We are unsung heroes fighting for a cause we believe in.
Words : Alexander Hislop