Producer: J Dilla
Album: Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul (2000)
Label: Virgin Records
Guru's long-running Jazzmatazz series looked to expand traditional rap fans' palates, by pairing hip-hop with live jazz sounds. But by the time Jazzmatazz Vol. 3 dropped, the focus had clearly shifted from jazz to R&B/soul. So who better to recruit for the project than the Soulquarians, whose influence rubbed off on everyone in R&B, and shaped the sound of music at the time (Neo Soul!). So the project was littered with Soulquarians or people who sounded just like the Soulquarians.
Actual Soulquarians, Bilal and Jay Dee were handpicked by the Gangstarr frontman to contribute to “Certified,” a bouncy and fun beat that eloquently sampled Klaus Wunderlich's “Sugar Me/Standing in the Road.” It was upbeat and vibrant to say the least. Sure Premier was Guru's primo producer, but he sure sounded great over some James Yancey. While only two of the song's participants are still living, it's a sad reminder that the torchbearers of this era are growing older. Cherish them while they're still here.