By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Three years ago, Solar became a much-discussed topic in hip hop following the death of his partner, Guru. Of Gangstarr fame, a lot of attention was placed on Solar. Moving forward from the negative, Solar is focused on the positive aspects. One of which is him taking over the helm at 7 Grand Records.
Guru started 7 Grand Records, but the label is living on in his honor under Solar’s direction. Taking the label and rising it to prominence, Solar has a tough task ahead of him, but he is handling it well. Along with making the label known, Solar is also focused on his own career.
Hip Hop Vibe had the chance to talk to Solar, as he is preparing to release a new album. A hiatus of three years, Solar is back with more new music. 7 Grand Records is in the midst of a new run and Solar spoke on this and his collaboration with Damian Marley. Solar spoke on various other topics during the interview, including his new project.
Read the entire interview below:
This is the first and last question about Guru, what words of advice did he leave you that sticks with you? Well, let me say this. The rumors are baseless they were horrible. I denied the rumors then, I will deny it now and now I want to properly display Guru’s legacy. But, my focus is about moving forward, there are a lot of people who did not want me to speak, clearing my name and his. However, a bigger question is who does not want Guru’s catalog listened to. There is a legal situation that is going on, however, to correct these problems because of the things they said about Guru, but he cannot defend himself. I can defend myself and him to a certain degree.
These people need to be seen so they can be approached because they privately questioned Guru’s sexuality and his sister and nephew are pimping his name out but will not defend him. Justin put a video on YouTube that said he went to the hospital after having a heart attack and turned me into some form of predator, but in actuality he was in the hospital willingly for cancer treatments and that can be grueling.
He had treatments for months before we even realized his situation would not get better, as in no positive outcome. But, we will be handling this on a state and national level, if need be. Of course, all of this is my past and I am about moving forward. One way to move forward is to have the fans receive closure. We need the hip hop media outlets to show support to Guru and note the positive things he did. My only motive is to make sure Guru’s legacy is recorded properly, his real and accurate story is what I want the world to see.
As far as a quote, Guru would always advocate people being themselves. This is simple, but it means a lot, “keep doing your thing,” and he said this to the people he admired to movitate them. “Keep doing your thing, keep your head up,” after all this is what he did, coming to New York from Boston with a duffle bag, he made it big in hip hop. He came from a family who wanted nothing to do with hip hop and he broke ties and made himself into the legend he was. God bless him, he made it happen. That is the message of “keep doing your thing,” stay positive and stay focused. His most-famous single was “Positivity.”
What is going on over at 7 Grand Records and what do you have planned for the label this year? Well, we have two new songs that we are leaking through the interview process. One track is from an upcoming album and we licensed it to the Discovery Channel for one of their programs. We are all about preserving the Earth, as we have traveled it so thoroughly as citizens of the planet and Guru would have loved to have been down with this project “Now I See” is the name of that track. The remix of this track is the second track and it is my response to all the negative feedback, featuring my artist WhoDoneIt. On this remix, it is more street, very New York. The songs are produced by two hungry up and coming producers who have a bright future in the game. I have been collaborating with new talent for various projects and a legendary Rock N Roll album. But, there are a lot of projects I will be working on, including my own album that I want to release in the second quarter of next year, my debut solo album.
Before we get into that, can you talk about your upcoming new album? It’s going to encompass a lot of styles people have not heard from me. This will really give people a chance to know me as an artist, since I have not talked about myself very much. I will cover everything, including living and dying, the facts of life. But, the “Now I See” is a good sample of what I will have in store, there will be a lot on this project, but it is a broad album. Guru and I started 7 Grand and brought diversity to the game, we received backlash, but we were successful. At a time when major labels were tanking, 7 Grand Records was doing well. So, the whole 7 Grand movement was musically adventurous and my album will continue that.
On this album, Damian Marley is featured, how did that come together? This is an interesting story, as Guru and I were in Jamaica. Guru has a history with the Marleys, working with them in the past, including Stephen. He knew the Marley family from his work on the Bob Marley project. Familiar with them and having a strong line of communication, we went to Jamaica and took in the lifestyle down there, if you know what I mean. While down there, we heard “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damian Marley before it leaked to the DJs and that was my introduction to him, so me and Guru decided to work with him and the record became a major hit, as many remember. Working with Damian Marley was a blessing and God bless Bob Marley and his family, the fruit did not fall far from the tree in their case.
Who are some other collaborations on the album to look out for? I don’t want to start releasing the track listing, just yet, so I will not reveal names yet. Just know, we have an outstanding and surprising list of features on this album. This has been a longtime coming and I hope the fans will appreciate the work I put in on this album.
Production-wise, who should fans expect to hear on the album? A lot of the production will come from me. I have two new producers on the first two singles, though. But, I am one year removed from even preparing the release of the album, so everything is hard to tell. The two new tracks, like I said are the perfect teaser for the project. This is a preview of the overall sound from the whole 7 Grand movement. The first producer is from Europe and the other is from New York. I also have producers signed to a production deal to develop new producers and we are always on the lookout for more. With life being a cycle, I will not be surprised to see a new Guru coming up, so if he reads this article, reach out to me, the contract is waiting and I’m here to work.
Who are some of the artists you are developing on 7 Grand Records? At the moment, I am developing WhoDoneIt and a group in Europe I am working with, along with a group in California I am working with. To some degree, the producers I am working with are being developed on 7 Grand Records, so it is all a family movement.
Since most crews are doing compilation albums, will 7 Grand Records be doing the same? I don’t know, I don’t foresee it, but I would like to say a lot of fans are not aware that Guru is one of the originators of the compilation albums. Guru introduced this on his debut album, Jazzmatazz and I feel the media has done a poor job of reporting this in the wake of his death. He also is the artist who helped bring the DJ to prominence in the crews, making them musicians. Also, Guru is one of the first, if not THE first hip hop artist, to start rocking with a band. Before this, hip hop concerts were all rappers and DJs.
What is a word of advice you want to leave to the people out there who want to pursue their dreams? When it comes to following your dreams, I am pursuing my dreams and I will use Guru’s quote for this “keep doing your thing.” Do not let anyone take your dreams from you. I lived my dreams on my own terms and I will quote Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way dammit.” Follow your dreams and do not let anyone take that away from you. I will share another quote Guru and I used, “a person who stands for nothing, falls for anything.”
Where can the people connect with you online? Follow me on Twitter @SolarOfficial, Facebook is also Solar Official, and my blog, Solar Official, 7GrandRecords.com, and offline come and see me at the show.
See additional photos of Solar belo