Guru

Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures (7 Grand Records)

No current genre is less forgiving of the aging process than rap, yet Guru is well positioned to deal with its ravages. His lyrics and delivery were mature long before the term applied to his vintage, and he's not about to sell out now. As he says in "No Time," the first track on this solid CD, "I look at hustle in the long-term sense."

Unlike on his Jazzmatazz discs, which constitute a form of modern fusion, producer/co-writer Solar sticks to old-school verities, with varied results: "Cave In," built upon the bass line from "White Lines," works a lot better than "Surviving the Game," featuring a helium-voiced interpolation of "Live and Let Die." Even so, Guru's flow is unimpeachable, whether he's keeping company with emcees he's influenced, including "Power, Money and Influence" co-star Talib Kweli, or standing alone on the likes of the hyper-conscious "Feed the Hungry."

If Version 7.0 doesn't make music lovers forget Gang Starr, the outfit in which Guru did his strongest work, at least it proves that aging well isn't a hip-hop impossibility. -- Michael Roberts

 
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