Traffikin Beatz Review - Guru Tribute in Japan

Guru, the man and the legend

Taken in Chicago
Taken in Chicago

R.I.P Guru

Golden Week is a National holiday from May 1st to May 5th here in Japan. For the Japanese it is a time when they return to their hometown and spend time with their immediate family. For foreigners living here, it is also a time for us to spend with our family and friends. In England, a long weekend gives us an excuse to party on a Sunday night, and in Japan it is the same for us foreign nationals. And this Golden Week’s Sunday was destined to be one of the greatest Sunday night excuses for a party ever. 
This Golden Week holiday the international hip-hop community was in mourning for one of the greatest to bless the microphone: Guru, one half of the legendary hip-hop group Gangstarr passed away after a long fight with cancer. Growing up as a skateboarder and hip-hop fan in the 90s, you would not be excused for not knowing who Guru was. Guru was a big part of my youth, listening to Gangstarr, as well as Guru’s solo projects Jazzmatzz. What a better way to celebrate Guru’s life and talent than to see his DJ, DJ Premier battle one of the other great DJ/Producers of the 90s, DJ Pete Rock.

Accompanied with the big man of Traffikin Beatz, Robbie Roo, we headed for the Ebisu district of Tokyo for a night of hip-hop history. This was my first visit to the Liquid Room, and I have to say it is one of the best venues I have been to in Tokyo. Studying recording arts at university, as well as being a DJ myself, I’m always analyzing a venue’s acoustics. Liquid room held about 2000 people, which is a perfect size venue in my opinion, and the sound was amazing. 

The two legends entered the stage around 7pm to the Rocky theme tune, appropriate, as two heavyweights were about to do battle. 90% of the crowd was Japanese, and by their reactions you could tell that these two DJ/Producers meant just as much to them as they did to us growing up. Premier announced that they would start from the beginning. Spinning records that influenced them growing up, and that they would then cover the Motown era, disco era, classic breaks, 80s hip-hop, 90s hip-hop and finally Gangstarr and Pete Rock & CL Smooth material.

From start to finish the greats lived up to their names. Dropping everything from James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Nas, Biggie, ATCQ, Public Enemy, House of Pain, to name but a few, and of course classics like Mass Appeal, T.R.O.Y, Full Clip, I Got Love, and You Know My Steez. 3 Hours later they left me wanting more, I– and I’m sure everyone else in the venue – would have danced until the early hours.

As someone who grew up with his mother playing Motown and disco, falling in love with hip hop in the early 90s, and becoming a DJ in the mid 90s, this was one of the most memorable nights in my life. And a great way to celebrate the late great Guru.

Big shout out to Manhattan Records for putting on a great show to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Props to Robbie Roo (Traffikin Beatz), and Guru R.I.P

Author Note

This review was written by Jon Connor who kindly gave me permission to submit his writing under the smartcontentz umbrella of hubs.  

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