In the second of our two part interview with Guru and Solar, Jay Diamond catches up with Solar. Solar describes Jazzmatazz 4 as an artistic statement in an era where people make music for money, rather than the love; and how he dedicated his being completely to creating it. He also talks about the creative intelligence of the ‘State Of Clarity’ video, and the curse of creative vampires.
Lady Jay UK: Why is Jazzmatazz 4 important?
Solar: First and foremost I’d like to say peace to you Lady Jay for affording me this opportunity to express my views and opinions on my career, the state of hip hop and certainly the future of things.
I mean, it’s always over stressing to say anything is important ,you know what I mean, and who am I say anything is important, but it seems like it’s important to the people; and the people have made it important, because I believe it’s a legacy of true artistic statements, in a time now, where that doesn’t exist anymore. People just make music for money. So Guru and Solar making an album that makes an artistic statement. I believe the people have stated it’s important, whether I say it’s important or not makes no difference at all.
Lady Jay UK: You’ve been labelled a ‘super producer’. What do you think this means, and what uniqueness have you brought to Jazzmatazz?
Solar: I mean, it’s not a label. Label denotes something that’s negative… I see it as a title that’s been bestowed upon me, and it’s like any title, like king or ruler I respond to that with responsibility, in that I bring the highest level of production to the table right now. I don’t believe that there’s anybody in hip hop or in other forms of music that have more talent and have more drive and more dedication to the game than I do right now.
Lady Jay UK: Did you produce everything on this album; and how did you carry out the process?
Solar: I produced all the tracks on the album, and I carried it out in a meticulous fashion meaning that I dedicated myself fully for a large period of time, solely, to the making of ‘Jazzmatazz’. It was my first and only thought in the morning, and my last and only thought at night.
Lady Jay UK: What do you think this album brings to hip hop? I say that because I don’t think a Solar / Guru creative partnership can be taken lightly.
Solar: It brings a new dimension to hip hop at this time, you know, just like the first volume brought a new dimension to hip hop, and it’s a dimension that’s a dimension of talent, pureness of that which is good and healthy and well for the being of hip hop; and also for the whole musical culture. I believe that it has elements that will attract you know, influences outwards of hip hop, and make hip hop healthy again because that’s what hip hop was in the beginning. It was people coming in to find it, people are walking away from hip hop now, so this is an album that will attract them back in.
I mean some do some don’t, I appreciate that you don’t, you know, but it is a very strong connection, and it’s a positive connection, and it’s something that obviously at this point has changed the world if not you know, just on a musical level, but I believe 7 Grand, and impact of Guru and Solar has many more implications.
Lady Jay UK: You must be so glad now you didn’t go through the majors for this album. Knowing you only had yourselves to rely upon, did this fuel your creativity, and / or were you unsure of whether it would be possible?
Solar: You know, I can equate the answer to that, like these new television shows that show like Survivor Man, when they drop these people in the middle of the snow alps and the forest and the desert, um, and the have to survive. You know they don’t have nobody to depend on. That really went into making this album. We didn’t have anyone to depend on, so we had to bring our best, and we had to figure out ways to solve our problems without anybody else helping us. Then we had to stand on our own credits and our own abilities, and to bring forth a great album as it’s been asserted by the world music community; I feel like we succeeded in that task.
Lady Jay UK: You directed the video for ‘State of Clarity’ featuring Common and Bob James. What was the concept, and do you often direct music videos?
Solar: Well the concept behind it was the track was retro, you know, and the sound was retro, even though I didn’t sample but, you know, Bob James, who, a lot of cats don’t know who he is; he’s one greatest Jazz hip hop influences ever. Like, his break, ‘The Mardi Gras’ was like the foundation of hip hop jams to begin with, you know. You can check with Flash or Herc or any of the great DJ’s from the beginning and before there was records, before there was record companies that endorsed hip hop they were making great music with those breaks, with great MC’s rapping over them. So, you know, the inspiration of the track was that. Was to make a great track that paid homage to his sound, and show my ability to make it sound like it came from the seventies, you know; which was more of a challenge than people would understand, you know so… the video was an extension of that.
Again, the video was an extension of the music, I wanted a video that equally fit the seventies, but without disco shoes, you know, and crazy looking costumes. I don’t really, I think it’s been done to death, so I wanted something else that represented the seventies but I knew it would only catch an elite, intelligent group of people who will be able to catch ‘State Of Clarity’. I mean, in my opinion, it’s one of the most brilliant videos made in recent years. It’s a travesty and a shame that it hasn’t gotten the creative look, you know response from the powers and authorities that give awards and look over these efforts and see how great and beautiful it’s, so it’s sad in one sense that they haven’t acknowledged the intelligence behind it, and that so many young college age and even younger people have tuned in to the brilliance of the video how it states Common on what we’re dealing with right now, and how it’s universal in it’s message but it was made in the sense of the seventies. D’you know what I mean, without disco balls, and high heel shoes and other nonsensical costumes.
Lady Jay UK: Are you working on anything else we need to know about?
Solar: Well there’s a lotta things you need to know about, that I’d like to talk about but unfortunately there are creative vampires out there, they all know who they are, but understand that Guru and Solar are vampire killers. So. Beware.
Lady Jay UK: Hahaha. I like that. What’s important to you in life?
Solar: Success. And I don’t mean success by financial standards, I don’t mean success by the standards of others. I mean to find success within yourself, which is true success, which means, peace. And I say to you, peace.