The TRUTH behind Guru(R.I.P.) and Solar’s relationship(Brownman interview)

GURU and Brownman

Solar needs a straight up ass kicking for how he treated Guru in his final years.

fu* has managed to get our hands on an interview few have seen in full. Brownman – the acclaimed featured trumpet soloist with Guru’s Jazzmatazz from 2006 to 2010 – after Guru’s death, was asked to give many interviews on what he saw of Solar’s manipulation of Guru while with Jazzmatazz. His publicist was approached by hundreds of members of the media all asking for official words, but because Brown’s own father was also tragically dying of cancer at the time, he only gave 3 interviews – to the Toronto Star, to XXL magazine, and to the Boston Phoenix. The most extensive interview was with the Boston Phoenix, and is much bigger and much more in depth than what he gave with XXL. It also includes everything that was said to XXL, so I’m posting the more detailed 8,000 word Phoenix interview here on fu* It contains EVERYTHING he witnessed while with Jazzmatazz and will disturb and shock you, but is very enlightening. Remember, these are the words of an acclaimed & accomplished musician, handpicked by Guru for Jazzmatazz, and who was on the front lines to see it all up close and personal. This interview was given on May 12th, 2010, and was used, amidst several other interviews in an investigative report by the Phoenix which, I’ve heard, has led to continued investigation into Solar’s more illegal dealings with Guru’s estate and property. Thank you to Brownman Music Inc and the Boston Phoenix reporter Chris Faraone for releasing this interview to us.

When was the first time you noticed that something was strange about Solar’s behavior?

From day 1, I always thought he was controlling… domineering… egotistical. He spoke of himself as a “god” and insisted all those around him refer to him as “lord”. Guru always called him this. And how he handled the band – he would bark orders like a general and often liked to express himself in military terminology – which I found completely out of place in art – which is what I considered Guru’s music. The thing with his instructions were that they rarely made any musical sense. Drummer Richard Spaven (highly acclaimed UK session drummer) and I, during full band rehearsals in Switzerland in ’07, would often glance at each other with that “what is this guy talking about?” kind of look. For example: Solar would ask me to improvise over sections (“do your thing over this part Brown”), but then decide he didn’t like certain things, (“Nah, nah – I don’t like that – do something else there”). Which is normal to me, as producers need to hear different approaches, and then decide what they like best. BUT when I would ask him to specify exactly what he didn’t like, so I would know what NOT to do, and thus be better equipped to generate something more suitable – he couldn’t. I would ask “do you mean that 2 bar section over the E minor 7 – you want me to do something else there?”, and he would become enraged at these kinds of questions and end up walking away telling Guru “to handle it”. Though not musically trained, Guru has a sense of all of this stuff, and COULD answer my questions. But I’d later get into all kinds of trouble for that too -> “Brown, stop asking Guru damn it – *I’m* the producer of the show – you ask ME!” Eventually I stopped asking anyone anything, and ignored all of Solar’s vague, ethereal, nonsensical instructions in the rare times we’d rehearse – and then delivered what *I* thought the tune needed on stage, based on my knowledge of the first 2 Jazzmatazz records, which I considered to be Guru’s most primordial expressions of hip-hop-jazz, and the yard-stick against which all our efforts should be measured. Guru was a man who – like Miles Davis – seemed to respect the past, while trying to move forward – so I tried to embody that ethos with my own playing (and yes, I simply dismiss all that garbage talk of Premiere and Gangstarr not being relevant as Guru parroting Solar’s agenda to be perceived as greater than Premo… I don’t believe Guru believed it deep down – so I dismiss it). This approach I took to playing in Jazzmatazz seemed to work best, and garner the most musical results in the end. It was just sad to me that Solar couldn’t actually musically direct this group, though LOVED tell everyone he was a Superproducer. It wasn’t until later that I realized he just lacked ANY musical education at all. I was used to dealing – as a session musician – with high end producers… guys with musical training who know the language, who are literate and who can articulate clearly what they want done. Solar – from the 1st rehearsal in Switzerland in ’07 – couldn’t do any of that. And it confused me. Solar talks a good game when it came to vague ideologies… you can hear this in just about any interview he gives, and he often sounds plausible and articulate, a lot of what he says seeming to make good sense. But sadly, one quickly discovers it’s all double-talk. Before I realized what was really going on – in the early days I, in fact, thought that maybe Solar was a figurehead. Some old friend that Guru labeled Superproducer and elevated publicly while Guru himself ran everything behind the scenes. I’ve heard of humble great men doing this – letting others take credit for some of their genius… sharing their spotlight as such… and such an act seemed in character with what I’d seen of Guru’s ethics so far – kind, generous, caring, gregarious. THAT scenario would have made some kind of sense to me at least… but what would be revealed over time was exactly the opposite -> that Solar was being given increasingly enormous amounts of power & control BY GURU, who believed deeply and genuinely in the 7 Grand label, treating it as his artistic freedom, and Solar as his savior… but I would come to see it as his artistic death over time… and Solar as a paranoid, delusional sociopath, as Guru continued to slowly hemorrhage his decision making processes to a .

Did things get incrementally worse until you finally left?

Yes. Guru continued to relinquish more and more musical and financial control to Solar over the years I was with Jazzmatazz, until finally DooWop and I quit together in Jan 2010. And it wasn’t for any one reason. By the time we left, the reasons were piled so high that leaving was the only thing left to do. Solar had created so toxic a work environment for us… he screwed with our money… threatened us… belittled us… demeaned us… marginalized us… all the while treating Guru like a child. Berating, belittling and chastising him… and later physically abusing him. I’d never seen a man disrespect another man like that. I’m disturbed now when I read accounts of Solar claiming Guru as a best friend and brother. Solar, THAT’S how you treat your best friend and brother?

My understanding is that you were in fear of Solar for some time. What sort of occurrences happened to put you in that position? Was his behavior directed at everyone around him, or just certain people? Did Guru catch the grunt of it?

To be honest, I didn’t feel any fear about Solar until I actually saw him punch Guru in the face. Solar didn’t know I had seen this go down. It happened in a back alley behind a club after a gig in Europe. I was heading back to the hotel post-gig, cutting through the backalley of the club as a shortcut. After a gig Guru and Solar often stayed behind, and the rest of the group would head back to the hotel. So I’m walking down the alley heading to the hotel, and suddenly the back door of the club flies open and Guru comes stumbling out like he had been shoved, Solar right on his heels yelling at him like a little boy. By now, this was a fairly common occurrence for me to see, but what happened next left me paralyzed. Guru seemed to be quietly arguing back. Clearly he felt that whatever had happened didn’t merit such a response from Solar, and it seemed like he was trying to explain himself. Solar – who was already knee-deep into the habit of cutting off Guru and not letting him complete full sentences – asked him:

“are you talking back to me Guru? Are you?”.
“No Lord, but you just need to understand… ”
“oh *I* need to understand? Me? You’re telling me that *I* need to understand???!!! Shut up Guru. Shut up right now!”
“… ok, I will. But let me just explain…”
“What did I tell you Guru? I said SHUT YOUR MOUTH?”
“… but lord…”


Solar swung on him… hit him in the mouth. And then again in the head. I was frozen. Far enough away that they couldn’t see me, but frozen in my tracks. I took a step forward, but I didn’t know what to do. And then Guru seemed to sort of shrug it off. Until that last year of his life, he was a tough, well-built guy, but I did think it was weird he didn’t fight back. And I’m pretty much a peace-loving pacifist… not a fighter… and none of this was my business. I was hired as the Jazzmatazz trumpet player, not as the Jazzmatazz judge and jury – so I swallowed hard and left, disturbed by what I’d seen. The next day, in a moment when Guru and I were alone, I quietly asked him, “hey G… what happened to your mouth man?”… just to see what he’d say. He looked me right in the eye and said “aw, I dropped some weights in the gym. I gotta be more careful, right son?”… and he smiled and gently poked me in the ribs saying “skinny bookworm like you don’t know nuffin ’bout the gym, right?” (I was always reading while on tour, and read about 3 books a week on average). He then winked at me and walked away… and if I hadn’t seen what I’d seen, that charming response would have made perfect sense. But instead I felt sick. Sick that this man – one of my heros – had been abused… and now felt the need to lie to me about it… to cover-up the incident and protect his attacker. It was awful.

About Vic Da Rula

What more can I say? I enjoy Hip Hop, Sports, and living the good life! var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname = "Escobar300(Covering Hip Hop Culture, Sports, and Events)"; a2a_config.linkurl = "";
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