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Following the Bridge to Bryan Adams’s “Everything I Do” with Cadences

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I was at my company’s national sales meeting in Florida this past week, and there was so much going on it was hard to even blink. As days progressed, the IT group had less and less to do, and since there were multiple pianos throughout the resort and were most of the time open, during breaks I had time to mess around.

I was thinking of good piano songs, and I remembered a ballad from Bryan Adams called “Everything I Do (I Do It For You,” which is a great love song that came out during the early 90′s for the Robin Hood soundtrack. The song itself is in Db Major for the most part, until it reaches the bridge (“There’s no love, like your love”), and everything takes an interesting turn.

I like analyzing these interesting chord changes because it deviates from what you’re used to hearing, plus the different tensions in the progression makes it very pleasing to the ear when done correctly.

Ready for some theory?

Just as a reminder, the roman numerals signify what note degree of the scale you are on. In C Major, a I is a C, a ii is a D and so forth.  Capital roman numerals signify a major chord should be played when using this particular note as a root, and lowercase numerals signify a minor chord.  For the vii-0, the “-o” signifies a diminished chord.

It’s interesting how this song moves along with cadences along roots, perfect IV’s and V’s, across a few different scales then makes its way back to the Db Major it started out in.

For those who don’t know what a cadence is, it’s basically a two chord progression.  The most common are authentic cadences with are V-I progressions (V gives you the feeling like you need to resolve and I resolves it nicely, like the song or verse can end here), half cadences which are cadences that end in a V (sounds suspended, unresolved and needs to continue to progress due to an unresolved V chord), and plagal cadences also known as the “amen” cadence because it sounds like that’s where the “Amen” should go in church.  A plagal cadence is a IV-I progression, and it sounds resolved but not as smooth as an authentic cadence.

Here’s a clip of the song, 4 bars in, which is just a Db Major, Ab Major, then Db Major (authentic cadence) for 2 bars:

and the chord progression so you can follow along:

Cb(B) Fb(E)
There’s no love like your love
Cb(B) Gb(F#)
And no other, could give more love
Db(C#) Ab(G#)
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there
Eb(D#) Ab(G#)
All the time, all the way

The instrumental then hits where the first chord is a Gb, then to a Db, and we’re back to the Db Major scale for the rest of the song.

First move they make, is using a Cb (B) Major first, a full step below the I chord, and it wouldn’t normally have a place in a typical major scale. The 7th note in a major scale is a half step and not a whole step below, and so the chord that would fit a major scale using that 7th note as the root would be a vii-0 (a diminished chord). In the case of Db Major, the 7th note would be a C and the chord would be a C diminished chord ((7) C, (2) Eb, (4) Gb).

If you know the song Heaven, also by Bryan Adams (in C Major, Sammy’s version is a D Major), it has a similar drop in the middle of the verse. In the middle of the verse, he would use a Bb Major then go into an F Major and then a G Major (“.. but that’s over now, you keep me coming back for more”).

It sounds very pleasing to the ear, and these aren’t the only cases that they use this technique. On The Beatles “Let it Be,” during the descending chord progression before the instrumental, you can hear Paul play a Bb Major for the same effect.

But why does it work?Let’s take a look at the two scales (the original for this song, Db Major, and the change in the bridge to B (Cb, for clarity) Major) side by side:

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-0) C, Db

Cb (B) Major: (I) Cb, (ii) Db, (iii) Eb, (IV) Fb, (V) Gb, (vi) Ab, (vii-0) Bb, Cb

And for those who ask why it’s in Db and not C#, it’s easier to write in Db than C# because you deal with 5 flats in a Db, and 7 sharps in a C#. Less complicated. Since a B Major is written in sharps, I opted to write it in Cb Major so you can see the similarities in flats easier.

Cb(B) Fb(E)
There’s no love like your love

When the bridge comes in, it hangs on an Eb note, which the two scales have in common, so a Cb Major chord can work here, before resolving to an E.  The road then takes an interesting turn.

From a Cb(B) Major, we go to an E Major chord. The notes being played are an Eb to an E. The progression works as an authentic cadence, which for those who don’t know, is a two chord progression, V-I, B Major to an E Major for the E Major scale. It’s a common way to feel resolution.  Since we’re going to an E, we’ll write the Cb Major scale as a B Major scale so we can use sharps in the comparison:

B Major: (I) B [Cb], (ii) C# [Db], (iii) D# [Eb], (IV) E [Fb], (V) F# [Gb], (vi) G# [Ab], (vii-0) A# [Bb], B [Cb]

E Major: (I) E, (ii) F#, (iii) G#, (IV) A, (V) B, (vi) C#, (vii-0) D#, E

From the E Major, we go to a B Major, which is a half cadence, I-V (any cadence finishing on a V is a half cadence), and it sounds normal with that suspended feeling in the E Major scale; or is it a plagal cadence, IV-I, for the B Major scale? Either way, it seems fine, but we would have to continue on to see where it goes from here.

Cb(B) Gb(F#)
And no other, could give more love

From the B Major, we go to an F# Major. That doesn’t work in an E Major scale, it should be an f# minor (ii). It works however for the B Major scale, since the F# Major is a V chord, and since it feels suspended, the B-F# becomes a I-V half cadence.

B Major: (I) B [Cb], (ii) C# [Db], (iii) D# [Eb], (IV) E [Fb], (V) F# [Gb], (vi) G# [Ab], (vii-0) A# [Bb], B [Cb]

Db(C#) Ab(G#)
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there

From the F# (Gb) Major chord, we go back to the Db Major scale by playing a Db Major chord to start the fifth bar (plagal cadence, IV-I). The next chord is an Ab Major, which works as a I-V half cadence in Db Major. So far, so good!

Eb(D#) Ab(G#)
All the time, all the way

But then it goes to a Eb Major chord! It doesn’t work with a Db Major scale, so we must be in the Ab Major scale since that’s the preceding chord. That gives us a half cadence, I-V, in Ab Major.

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-o) C, Db

Ab Major: (I) Ab, (ii) Bb, (iii) C, (IV) Db, (V) Eb, (vi) F, (vii-o) G, Ab

It then ends on an Ab Major, V-I, authentic cadence.

To start the instrumental, it goes to a Gb Major, which would help us move back to a Db Major scale via a plagal cadence (IV-I).

Db Major: (I) Db, (ii) Eb, (iii) F, (IV) Gb, (V) Ab, (vi) Bb, (vii-0) C, Db

Things could have been much simpler had the writers kept things to key, but where’s the glory in that?  The end result was a nice flowing, moving piece that sounded great to the ear.

More to come later this week with two songs due out by this weekend!  Make sure you stay tuned for that!


Music Scene Spotlight: Aaliyah Was One In a Million

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I remember walking into the Virgin Megastore that was on Union Square on August 25, 2001.  It was my first day at my dorm at NYU for my sophomore year.  It was a small tradition that I made for myself that each year I go back to New York I would buy a CD at that store.  The first year it was Dilated Peoples “The Platform,” and that year it was Canibus’s “2000 B.C.”

I walked up to the counter and while ringing up the CD, he asks me, “Did you hear about Aaliyah?”

I said, “No, what happened?”

He replied, “She was in a plane crash and passed away.”

My jaw dropped.

I admired Aaliyah, because her “One in a Million” album was a classic to me.  The combination of Aaliyah on top of Timbaland beats were a match made in heaven, and I had bumped the songs from that album consistently for a number of years, most especially “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “One in a Million,” “Four Page Letter,” and the remix to “Hot Like Fire.”  Her voice was just right; she wasn’t a flashy singer, but on point with emotion and delivery with that correct amount of soul.  Her harmonies always sounded great.

Most people usually use the word “angel” to describe her, and I’d have to say that description is pretty accurate especially when it came to her voice.  There was a smooth feel there that just made you feel, “this girl’s definitely got it.”

And you have to admit, the hair over the eye, shades, and the baggy jeans/pants and tank tops were a good look without sluttiness giving a touch of not-so-feminine but sexy.

She had great versatility too.  On that album alone you had ballads like “Four Page Letter” and “How Could the One I Gave My Heart To,” more funky songs like “If Your Girl Only Knew” and “Hot Like Fire” (remix was RIDICULOUS), and sensual sounding songs like “One in a Million,” and she handled her business properly on each.

Couple that with Timbaland’s ingenuity, and you had the perfect combination.  Sorry Keri Hilson (even as great a songwriter as you are), but Keri doesn’t match nearly as well with Timbo as Aaliyah did.

Even her later works, like “More than a Woman,” “We Need a Resolution,” “Rock the Boat,” “Try Again,” and “Miss you,” were all really good songs, and I thought Aaliyah opening up “Up Jumps the Boogie” with Timbo, Missy and Magoo was just epic; there was just a feel to it that made you feel something was about to happen.

When I think of female R&B artists now, there’s a void where Aaliyah should be.  No disrespect to the Beyonce’s and Alicia Keys’s of the world (both great artists, mind you), but there was something about Aaliyah that was different.  The right amount of soul and sweet melody with no gimmicks, no overdone sexiness, and a good amount of versatility.

Here’s just some of my favorites from YouTube so you can enjoy the greatness that was Aaliyah:

If Your Girl Only Knew:

One in a Million:

Four Page Letter:

Hot Like Fire [remix]:

Rest in Peace Aaliyah.  We all miss you.


Music Scene Spotlight: I Want My A Capella Straight No Chaser

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

So while watching the NBA 2010 Finals, (game 5 in Boston, to be exact, BEAT LA!) I was flipping channels and landed on the New Jersey Network.  They were showing a televised performance by an a capella group called “Straight No Chaser.”

“Straight No Chaser” is a group of 10 male vocalists, harmonizing their way through covers such as “Time of the Season” by the Zombies, “Africa” by Toto, “Up on the Roof” by The Drifters, and a nice rendition of “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

I’m always up for unique music performances, and although I’ve seen some cool a capella performances, there was a certain swag to these guys that really caught my ear and eye.  Their performance of “Time of the Season,” (coincidentally something I had sampled, more on that later. =] ) was great.  The vocal arrangement was on point, and the performance was strong with the vocalists showing their personalities not just in their voices but in their delivery and actions.  There was a particular cut when Jerome Collins (one of their Tenors and soloists) was moving his head in such a way with the adlibs that showed how much they enjoyed what they do and how much they put into their performances, and another where he was doing some Michael Jackson moves.  I hope to catch them in Atlantic City in July as they will be at the Harrah’s for almost two months.

Here’s their rendition of Wonderwall, which I thought was pretty dope:

Here’s their website:

Hope you enjoy the tip.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my review on drum recording; I’m going to go over my processes for the original kit I’m putting out this Wednesday. =]


Music Scene Spotlight: The Dynamic Duo of Nas and Damian Marley are “Distant Relatives”

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Today marks the release of NaS and Damian Marley’s collaboration album Distant Relatives. If you haven’t heard this album yet, you are definitely missing out.

I’ve never been exposed to that much reggae, at least in the Bob Marley sense.  I’ve had a lot of exposure to the Dancehall stylings of Cutty Ranks, Buju Banton, Elephant Man and the like.  So when I heard that Bob Marley’s son Damian, a.k.a. Jr. Gong, was going to hook up with NaS for a collaboration album, it was exciting to hear some new sounds.

I’ve always been a fan of NaS, since Live at the BBQ.  I do have a bias towards NY emcees because that’s the sound I grew up with.

I have all his solo efforts except The Lost Tapes.  Right now, I have his albums ranked as follows:

  1. iLLmatic
  2. Hip-Hop is Dead
  3. Godson
  4. It Was Written
  5. Untitled
  6. Stillmatic
  7. Street’s Disciple
  8. I Am…
  9. Nastradamus

Distant Relatives is a different beast.  First off it’s a collaboration album.  Secondly, it’s a pure departure from the New York sound we’re accustomed to hearing from NaS.  No Salaam Remi, no L.E.S., no Large Professor, just to name a few consistent collaborators.

From a production standpoint, it might be his best album, which of course you have to credit Jr. Gong (and his brother Stephen) for the amazing musical backdrops.  Very thick instrumentation and uplifting ambiance make this album a pleasure to listen to.  Songs like “Tribes at War” carry an African feel to them that push the listener to visualize the continent.

Here’s a breakdown of each track:

  1. As We Enter: An awesome intro.  To show that solidarity, Nas and Gong trade bars on a fast beat to show you the unified effort.  Definitely a good start.
  2. Tribes at War feat. K’Naan: Production-wise, this is one of the best on the album.  The instrumentation makes you feel Africa, with the bongos in a tribal pattern, the tonal percussion in the back, the grunt on the down beat, and the chorus of people chanting. The descending strings and the smooth synth are nice touches. All three performers kill it here.  K’Naan’s sequence about conflict was great:

    1, it’s me and my nation against the world //
    2, then me and my clan against the nation //
    3, then me and my fam against the clan //
    4, then me and my brother we no hesitation //

    Go against the family until they cave in //
    5, who’s left in this deadly equation? //
    That’s right, it’s me against my brother //
    Then we point a Kalashnikov and kill one another //

  3. Strong Will Continue: This song is very powerful.  The hook and production sounds like a rally of troops, and it’s very uplifting.  It moves you to take action. As Gong’s hook goes: “Only the strong will continue, do you have it in you? ‘Cause we got a journey to go.” The industrial effects combined with the distorted guitars and strings give this track an adventurous feel. The light piano also gives the track a nice touch.
  4. Leaders feat. Stephen Marley: This one has that classic reggae feel.  I feel like I should be listening to this in a cloud of smoke lol.  But seriously though, this one talks about leaders and pushing them to change the world rather than use their power and influence for personal gain. Damian possesses such a smooth voice, and with such powerful lyrics, Gong truly shines.
  5. Friends: Another reggae feel, and it addresses friendship.  I’m sure we’ve all been through our share of drama with our real and artificial or fairweather friends.  Gong’s choruses in this song are great, because it’s simple and true.  Real friends won’t do you wrong, real friends never change. Nas kills this song, and here’s a powerful sequence:

    Real men, we have a code of ethics, no questions, no jealousies //
    No feminine tendencies we expecting //
    No gossip, no phony logic, no counting your homey’s pocket //
    Spare no expense for legal defense if your homey locked up //

    No keeping tabs on who was the last who looked out //
    Selfishness, that’s a character flaw, no holdin out //
    Yo what happened to the honor? Primadonna drama //
    Teflon love for my dudes who solid //

  6. Count Your Blessings: This one is very uplifting, making it a point that you should be happy with what you have.  Nas mentions his son, and how he wishes to raise him the same way Bob Marley did Damian, and even when you’re not at the top and you wish to be, just keep your aspirations high. I like the bongos in this one and the smooth guitars. When the verses come in, the way the distorted guitars come in give you a great sense of purpose.
  7. Dispear: At first, I thought they had either misspelled dissapear, or a different way to spell despair.  But it actually means This Spear.  It’s a lot more aggressive than the other songs on the album, and the spear is a symbol of power, violence, and control, and how it has broken down society. Sonically, it sounds like preparing for war. The middle pause with the whispers and animal sound gives you the feel that you’re hunting with that spear, which I thought was a great touch.
  8. Land of Promise: More reggae here, reminiscent of Jamrock (Gong’s HUGE hit a few years back), and it pays homage to Africa.  How Africa is real, and how what you perceive in New York and California are nothing comparable.
  9. In His Own Words feat. Stephen Marley: This one’s a song for God.  NaS shows his appreciation and faith, despite the negativity that surrounds him and in the world. Production-wise, it’s very uplifting.
  10. Nahmean: This one’s about as close to the hip-hop sound you will get on this album.  The head-nod is official on this. Both Gong and Nas go in and destroy this one lyrically, asking what the higher-ups are doing for us.
  11. Patience: This track is the most inquisitive, and the most thought provoking.  A lot of history on this song, addressing The Bible and The Qu’ran, as well as the origins of words, numbers, and everything in existence.  Gong was the most eloquent on this track. The instrumentation on this is beautiful along with the sample that goes on in the hook. Very synthy compared to the rest of the album; the atmosphere of this beat mixes in SO WELL with these philosophical questions and thoughts.
  12. My Generation feat. Lil’ Wayne and Joss Stone: This is the most uplifting song on the entire album, and I’m sure will be a radio hit.  I know of many people who were disappointed with Wayne being on the album, but he did his part and didn’t bring the song down at all.  The hook is great, and it just an all-out feel good song.  Nas’s first line is great: “Can you blame my generation, subject to gentrification, depicting their frustrations over ill instrumentation?”
  13. Africa Must Wake Up feat. K’Naan: This one has that reggae feel.  K’Naan comes in with a Somali verse, and the translation is available in the sleeve.  It serves as a good ending to the album.

I’m very pleased with the album, and it sounds great cover to cover.  It’s a classic.  Nas’s lyrics, combined with Marley’s lyrics/vocals and production make for a very powerful, 5 mic rated, combination. It’s not your typical hip-hop or reggae album, as it fuses both quite well.

Do yourself a favor, and buy the album.

More stuff coming soon!  Stay tuned!


Lady Gaga Revisited: Paparazzi and Tetrachords

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

So Speaks [Harmony] sent me back to the drawing board, telling me that my first attempt at Gaga sounded too circus like [a la Britney Spears].  She wanted something more like Paparazzi and less like Bad Romance [though she likes both songs].

I have to admit, I like the song Paparazzi a lot.  It’s mostly the melody though of the chorus.

I’ve heard the song played many times, and I always had deemed the song to be in C minor (relative major being Eb Major).  Usually I have a decent ear when it comes to chords, and I dismissed the whole song to be in C minor, and the chorus probably followed suit.  When the chorus comes in:

“I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me, Pappa, Papparazzi”

The sound of it seems to obviously be a very pop typical I-V-vi, or possibly a I-V(with the 3rd in the bass position)-6, in it’s relative major.

But I was wrong, and maybe next time I should actually learn a song first before judging it!  Being primarily a rap producer, you don’t go further than 2 or maybe 4 chords.  I play instruments for other genres though, and for the most part there aren’t that many key changes in the songs I play, but I usually call them when I play.  Having never played the song before, I found out, as always, assumption is the mother of all… you know the rest.

Ready for a little music theory?


Now before we proceed, I think we need a small review of major and minor chords.  If you’re good with basic major and minor scales, then you can move past this section.

The roman numerals above denote the chords in a particular scale, starting from the root upward.  Major chords are in capital letters and minor chords are in lowercase.  For example, assuming that the entire song was in C minor, the i chord would be C minor, the ii-o chord would be a D diminished, the v chord would be a G minor, and the VI chord would be an Ab Major.  The relative major of C minor is Eb Major  [To find the relative major of a minor, it’s the iii chord in the minor scale; to find the relative minor in a major, it’s the vi chord in the major scale].  So the I chord would be an Eb major, the V chord would be a Bb major (1st inversion, with the D in the bass instead of the Bb), and then the vi chord would be the C minor.

Sound confusing?

Here are the scales:

Eb Major Scale: Eb(I), F(ii), G(iii), Ab(IV), Bb(V), C(vi), D(vii-o), Eb(I)

C minor scale: C(i), D(ii-0), Eb(III), F(iv), G(v), Ab(VI), Bb(VII), C(i)

If you play the Eb Major scale, it will sound like a nice do-re-mi progression.  The C Minor, not so much, though that’s a conversation for another post.  As is, the C Minor scale looks exactly like the Eb Major scale if you started on C instead of Eb.  All Major and Minor (natural) scales work the same way, with their relatives.  To mix it up, composers will go between both relative scales (with some little added things) to make things sound extra good to the ear.

A lot of pop songs have a progression of I-V-vi.  Let It Be by the Beatles is a good example.   It’s in C Major, and the chord progression is C Major, G Major, Am (I,V,vi) in the first half of the progression of the verses.


Going back to Gaga, I assumed that the chords for the chorus would be Eb Major, Bb Major, then C Minor.

When I analyzed it, I found out it isn’t.  It’s still a I-V-vi, but not in that scale.  It’s actually in Ab Major.

But how does that work?

I’m glad you asked!  I owe it to my Music Theory I teacher who gave me this insight a few semesters back.

Here’s a clip of the song, second half of the first verse, into the chorus:

Let’s go over the chords of the song.

The intro is a C minor chord repeating.

The verses go: Cm, Ab, Cm, then Cm, Ab, Fm, leading into chorus.  It’s in C Minor Scale. (i, VI, i, i VI, iv)

The chorus goes: Ab, Eb, Fm, Db and repeats.  It’s in Ab Major. (I, V, vi, IV)

Let’s take a look at the two major scales involved here, the Eb Major (relative of C minor) and Ab Major:

Eb Major Scale: Eb(I), F(ii), G(iii), Ab(IV) | Bb(V), C(vi), D(vii-o), Eb(I)

Ab Major Scale: Ab(I), Bb(ii), C(iii), Db(IV) | Eb(V), F(vi), G(vii-o), Ab(I)

If you’ve noticed, I’ve split each scale in half, four notes on each side.  Each set of four notes is what music theorists call a tetrachord. Notice how the first half of the Eb Major scale closely resembles the Ab Major scale’s second half.

So how does this work?  Basically, if you play around in the first half of the Eb major scale, you can move to an Ab major scale progression and it will sound nice and peachy; especially if you use a G to lead into the Ab.

The composers of Paparazzi did so by using the F minor in the end, pausing the music while Gaga sings the last note, and Gaga’s last note is a hanging G note.

Why are these three things important?

  1. The use of the F minor, is almost foreshadowing.  If you take a look at the Ab Major scale, what’s the relative minor?  (remember the notes above, look for the 6th, which is an F, and a minor at that).  It makes the move even more comfortable since both the Eb Major and Ab Major scales have that chord in common.
  2. The G serves as a leading tone to the Ab Major.  It gives your ear the tension to want to move to the Ab Major chord because it sounds incomplete.  Try playing C,D,E,F,G,A,B in succession (a C Major scale, without going back to C).  Your ear will want to play that C because things don’t sound right without doing so.
  3. Then the pause.  Why the pause?  To make the G sound even better when it leads into the Ab Major.

Play the clip above, and listen for these key things, and you’ll hear how it was done.  Pretty nifty, if you ask me.  I’m sure that this isn’t the first time the technique was used, as I’m sure it was used many times.  However, this is something current that uses it, and for composers who want to know how to move in scales, well here’s one good way to do it. =]

That does it for today’s music theory lesson.  More music coming your way, very soon!


Music Scene Spotlight: RIP to Guru, One Half of One of Hip-Hop’s Most Legendary Groups, Gangstarr

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

A sad day in hip-hop today.

We lost another one.  We lost Guru of Gangstarr, to cancer.

To be honest, I was never the biggest fan (and I don’t mean that in the negative sense where you’re trashing someone, just literally as typed) of Guru, but his importance in hip-hop’s history is without question.  He was a good emcee, and the ideal yang to DJ Premier’s yin.  He was a natural fit to Premo’s production.  Premo, on my producer influence list, especially in my earlier work, was trading #1 or #2 with Dr. Dre, depending on the project, with RZA, Just Blaze and Timbaland rounding out my top five.

Solar, Guru’s producer in the last half of his career, submitted this letter that Guru wished to release upon his death (credit:

I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.

I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody’s feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.

I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.

If you’d like to read more on the story, you can click here.

I know that Guru and Premo had a falling out, and it made me sad to know that they never patched it up.  As much as Guru isn’t one of my favorite emcees, GangStarr had some really good hits and to me epitomize hip-hop.  When I think hip-hop, I think of GangStarr, because you have Premo’s boom bap, Guru with his rhymes, and Premo scratching.  It’s textbook hip-hop music at it’s finest.  “Code of the Streets,” “Mass Appeal,” “DWYCK,” “Tons O’ Gunz”, and “Above the Clouds” were just a few of their culture-wide accepted classics, “Full Clip” and “1/2 and 1/2” with M.O.P. being two of my personal favorites to add to the list above.

Gangstarr is on that top list of the legendary duos of the early 90’s, which includes a who’s-who of names including Eric B. and Rakim, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and EPMD (Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith).

Guru had some big ideas, and aside from his GangStarr legacy, will also be known for his pioneering efforts in what is considered hip-hop jazz or jazz rap, a feat that I do admire.  I’ve personally gotten to appreciate jazz more over these past few years, especially when I got to play bass for a jazz band a few semesters ago, really taking in the sounds of Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, and others.

Guru’s Jazzmatazz was an interesting fusion, using a mix of live jazz musicians and some sampling for his audio backdrop; it was a departure of the static looping of hip-hop, using longer phrasing and it allowed for more dynamic instrumental performance.  The sound was a lot smoother, and had a definite, laid-back, classy feel that you would associate with jazz.  Couple that with Guru’s laid back delivery and flow, and you’ve got a nice combo.

I’m going to drop some YouTube videos below of some of the joints I mentioned above to pay tribute.  If you’re a later fan of hip-hop and you’ve never gotten to hear Gangstarr, you’re definitely missing out.  I’ll also link up a Jazzmatazz track too just so you can appreciate some of Guru’s pioneering work.

Above the Clouds feat. Inspektah Deck:

1/2 and 1/2 feat. M.O.P.

Full Clip

Jazzmatazz: State of Clarity feat. Common and Bob James

Rest In Peace, Guru.  Hip-hop music, musicians and listeners alike, will forever thank you.





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