Guru's Jazzmatazz ft. Angie Stone - Keep Your Worries
Regular readers will no doubt have noticed a certain bias in my current music taste towards music which is digital, robotic and jerky rather than natural, organic and funkified. So it's with great surprise that I report that the song I simply can't get out of my head at the moment is the latest single by Jazzmatazz, the hip hop and jazz fusion project organised by Guru of Gang Starr. It's not that I outright dislike this sort of music - I actually really love Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, The Stetasonics and old trip hop. The problem is that with all the great computerised and rigidly rhythmical music on the radio at the moment, deliberately harking back to an age where hip hop kneeled at the alter of live musicianship and sampled funk breaks seems misguided. And it doesn't help that Angie Stone, who sings the chorus on "Keep Your Worries", has been vaguely trumpeted as the next Macy Gray.
Of course what I don't allow for in this conception of my tastes is the sheer quality of an individual song. "Keep Your Worries" is defiantly old skool, but not apologetically so. Guru isn't harking back to past greats so much as doing what he's always done. Here it's a sumptuous string section sample dovetailing into a slumming beats-and-double bass groove. I don't see what's particularly jazzy about it, but if you still clutch your copy of Low End Theory close to your chest then you'll love this, despite its surprisingly high potential for dancefloor accessablity (the clip, with its spontaneous home dance party cash cow, makes me suddenly want to go to r&b nights, despite the general sliminess of the crowds that frequent them in Melbourne).
What really makes the song for me though are Stone's contributions. Her vocals are low, with a sweet-but-menacing edge that makes lines like "Keep my name out your mouth/'till you got somethin' worth talkin 'bout" seem positively threatening. Plus, despite her obvious positioning as an Aretha-style soul singer she sounds (or at least looks) a lot like a house diva as well, as if she's been chosen primarily for her anonymous vocal ability - the exact opposite of Macy's instantly recognisable quirkyness. And you're getting, to boot, a fantastic chorus, up there with Mary Mary's "Shackles (Praise You)" for soulful irresistablity. The lesson, I guess, is that it's okay to be keepin' it real, as long as you remember to keep it good as well.