If you ask me, there have been fewer travesties to the majesty of the blues than the lyrics penned by Guru. One thing anyone should insist on is grammar. Guru gets a fifty fifty. Listening to Jazzmatazz was like living on the border of sun and shadow on Mercury. It's never as comfortable as it should be.
On the one hand, when Guru put the gangsta in GangStarr, it was righteously good rap. 'Sights in the City' has to be his best cut ever, and it bordered on great. No anthology of Acid Jazz would be complete without Guru. But then when he approached jazz standards, it puts a hole so deep in your heart that it's hard to forgive. Somewhere in that hole is the memory of what he has done, and I have practiced the dissociation long enough to have forgotten the damage done. So I'm cool and I don't want to remember. Still, a cut like 'Loungin' is just methodically wrong.
According to the people I used to hang with and do the hiphop hermeneutic thang, all props went to DJ Premier for arranging the coolest cuts ever, and then some more for putting up with Guru's lyrics and diction. The thing was, as an innovator, there was nowhere else to go. Nobody knows the names of the rappers of Buckshot LeFonque and so nobody could approach what Guru was up to, nobody except Lucien and MC Solaar and that angle of the Native Tongues. Asking for another Guru was like asking for a second 'A Different World'. (I was going to say Cosby Show, but that would be doing Guru too much of a favor). The connoisseurs would demand it, but the broader market (according to the producers) wouldn't support it.
My remedy was going towards French Rap, something of a guilty pleasure, because I knew some of it was gangsta. Nevertheless, Lucien was all that, bi-lingually.
You could say that Acid Jazz survived. You had the Brand New Heavies and others. Certainly The Roots came up behind Guru, vulgar as they were. The best of that lot were the one hit wonders who worked as Metrics with Steve Coleman. A lot of R&B got hiphop/jazzified starting with (ick) Erika Badu and on down the line to John Legend (finally) and the lost, forgotten and nevertheless magnificent and as far as I'm concerned the greatest talent of them all Frank McComb. And we should not forget India Arie or D'Angelo. But on the pure hiphop side, it kinda all began and kinda all ended in the English language with Guru. He ran it like a rapper should, even he never consummated his own skills up to par with what he would have had to if he was more mainstream.
What saved him of course was the music, and for that he is forgiven, and will also not be forgotten. Guru was the closest that mainstream rap music got to permanently edifying itself for the better and properly taking on the mantle and responsibility of jazz. That was a lot to swallow and it has never really been done. But the elements are all there.