R.I.P. To Black Music and Hip-Hop Legend Guru of Gang Starr (& A Personal Note)

Throughout the 2000s, the FuseBox Radio Broadcast and BlackRadioIsBack.com family of myself and Jon Judah had the honor & privilege of having numerous professional and personal encounters with Mr. Keith Elam a.k.a. Guru of the legendary Hip-Hop & Black Music group Gang Starr.

Our multiple dealings with Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) had shown the brother to be a rare class act in the music and entertainment realms.

In a music industry where egos can at times be out of control (sometimes for little to no reason), he consistently showed himself to be a man who was able to balance out his immense talent and musical legacy with being a balanced, respectful and kind human being.

One of my personal favorite memories of encountering Guru occurred around 2004, when I ended up being on the same RapAttackLives.com H.U.S.T.L.E. music industry panel with him during that years CMJ Music Conference in New York City.

It happened during a time frame of my life that was pretty difficult.

My stepfather (who essentially took on the Daddy role for me) had VERY recently passed away, a college education at the moment meant jack for getting a decent job or pay in NJ, too many "friends" ended up being foes since I couldn't keep up with the Joneses economically and other unpleasant whatnot.

The FuseBox Radio Broadcast was pretty much in regards to something stable and somewhat controllable in my life at that time frame and even then, discouragement was coming from a lot of sides in regards to why I was even still doing radio and it was time to "grow up".

The music conference would be a nice distraction from my every day cycle at the moment of not feeling so hot about anything BUT music.

Nasty Nes, EQ & David Muhammad of RapAttackLives.com had a pretty cool event going on throughout that day and I was enjoying myself even before it was panel time (since I tend to like running my mouth at these sorts of events).

I didn't even know Guru was going to be on my panel and truthfully, I was a bit starstruck.

In my younger days, I had a crush on him (and thought he looked f-i-n-e then) and got hooked on Gang Starr's music and the Jazzamattazz series during my teenage years.

During my college radio career, he was still on a lot of dope releases coming through & getting blasted in the studio, either through Gang Starr, solo works or guest appearances on other Hip-Hop heads records.

The panel went well (talked about independent artists being out their biz, getting airplay, etc.) and everyone was giving each other props, intros and other things at the end of the event.

Guru came up to me and gave props on some of the information I dropped (was at a VERY early stage of Indie Media activism & respect promotion in Hip-Hop in my babblings during the event) to the audience, encouragement and engaged in some relaxed conversation.

It was amazing to me that someone of his stature would even think of doing that with a person like me (college radio & independent DJs don't exactly get wonderful treatment at times) like it was second nature.

Those encouraging words to keep things up and keep it moving in a business and culture that sometimes can be extremely cutthroat meant the world to me at that time.

Later on that day, he was over at one of the CMJ/H.U.S.T.L.E. Hip-Hop mixers and cats just kicked it mellow like over some drinks with all of the DJs there.

Guru gave everyone his attention and knowledge in each individual conversation like he was that cool older cousin ready to both school people and have a good time. He was NOT on the "I'm a big star so sweat me" mentality that some people get today after getting one music link posted on a blog.

The brother wanted to uplift others that day and still be a normal guy.

To this day after 12 years of DJing, doing radio, writing and so forth in the music industry, I can barely count on both hands the amount of music artists that were like Guru in that way.

For that alone, he will be deeply missed by me.

During the years, we've saw Guru at shows, did interviews with him for the radio show and checked out pre- and post- Gang Starr music. None of those scenarios remotely negative and a good time.

We've heard from fellow music folks about the strangeness of his relationship with 7 Grand Records partner Solar and in the past few months have read some odd and kind of disturbing things, especially during the first reports of Guru's sickness.

I don't know what's true and not on that end. My personal feelings about Solar, his dealings and future actions can be best & most politely stated with one of Guru's lyrics of one of my favorite Gang Starr songs, "Moment of Truth":

Nobody's invincible, no plan is foolproof
We all must meet our moment of truth

At the moment, all I know through numerous sources is that Guru has passed onto the other plane. He will truly be missed.

Prayers & Condolences to the Family, Friends and Fans of Keith Elam a.k.a. Guru from the BlackRadioIsBack.com and FuseBox Radio Broadcast family.

His impact in Hip-Hop, Black Music and American Music will always be felt and respected.

R.I.P. (Rest in Peace & Rest In Power)

Note: From the source article I'm posting up about Guru's passing, I did not include the PR release/"letter" that was supposedly from Guru that Solar released.

I feel it's at the very least has been tampered with if not is a completely fake piece of writing. Plus, the absurd negativity of it distracts from his life and legacy. If you want to see it, click here.

Guru, of Hip-Hop Duo Gang Starr, Dies

Guru, the MC for the ’90s hip-hop duo Gang Starr and a solo artist who blended rap and jazz on a series of records, has died of cancer-related causes. He was 43. Born Keith Elam near Boston, the rapper took the name Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) and teamed up with DJ Premier to release the first Gang Starr album in 1989. The group’s second release, “Step Into the Arena,” was later named by The Source as one of the 100 Best Rap Albums.
While many hip-hop acts sampled R&B or even rock records, Gang Starr was known for its use of jazz samples. Guru later explored the fusion of jazz and rap on his solo “Jazzmatazz” series, teaming with musicians like Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis and singer N’Dea Davenport. The last of those albums, “Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future,” came out in 2007.
The rap world lost one of its most authoritative voices today: Guru, the MC half of the legendary duo Gang Starr. Guru, whose birth name is Keith Elam, suffered a cardiac arrest back in February, and fell into a coma. There's no confirmation yet on the cause of death, but reports suggest it was the result of cancer. He was 43.

Gang Starr, which also featured production genius DJ Premier, was a trailblazing force in hip-hop, combining Guru's worldly lyrics and laid-back flow with a smooth sampling technique that drew heavily on jazz.

Guru explored this groove even further with his 1993 solo album
Jazzmatazz Vol. 1; subtitled "an experimental fusion of hip-hop and jazz," the disc showcased jazzbos like trumpeter Donald Byrd and saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and was a key release in the oft-derided genre known as acid jazz. (Guru released Jazzmatazz Vol. 2 in 1995.)

To quote one of Guru's own songs, it seems time to respect the architect.

DJ Doo Wop Remembers Guru

The Father, Last Tour

For 15 years, Doo Wop worked alongside Guru as a tour deejay and collaborator. The mixtape legend appeared on Guru's Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures album, making a sequel to theGang Starr classic "Step Into The Arena." In the wake of this morning's tragic announcement of Guru's death, HipHopDX approach Doo Wop to reflect on his friend and peer.

Doo Wop revealed that Guru was aware of his cancer as of last year, a
diagnosis he kept private from the fans. "In mid-2009, Guru called me to discuss something about an upcomingJapan tour and to also tell me that he's gonna pass by my crib after a doctor's appontment he had scheduled due to some back pain he was having," remembered Doo Wop. "Next thing I know, he calls me and I could tell he was obviously in tears, then he says the doctor told him he has cancer."

95 Live maker continued, speaking on his relationship with the Boston-born emcee. "[Guru] wasn't just someone I recently met and worked with for a brief period. No, this was my friend of over 15 years, someone I toured over 33 countries with. Sometimes my phone would ring and my Caller ID said 'Guru cell,' I'll pick up and he'll say, 'Peace. Hold on,' then I'd hear him giving the phone to his son while saying, 'Here, it's uncle Doo Wop.'" The personal relationshipextended to Guru's son, named K.C. "His son would tell me everything they did or were about to do that day. As busy as Guru was, he did what a great father is supposed to do and that was to make sure his son didn't grow up wondering why his dad doesn't make time for him."

While Guru's cancer diagnosis was kept private even in the wake of February's
heart attacknews, Doo Wop was able to reveal the Gang Starr emcee's reaction to the news. "The day he found out he had cancer, all he kept saying was how he gotta beat this because his little man needs him. I toured with Guru from 2005 [through] November, 2009. He wasn't feeling well on that last tour we did together, but pushed himself to stick it out."

Doo Wop also added that an incident prevented the longtime friends from speaking more recently. "During that tour, one of Guru's people's and I had an altercation that was long coming. That happened right in the middle of the tour, and the rest of the tour was so uncomfortable due to this issue." Doo Wop did not specify who he had the altercation with. "I told myself, 'This is my last tour, I'm done.' My mind was made up 100%. When we got back from that tour, we landed at JFK [Airport] and all rode back together." The bittersweet moment would prove to be significant to Doo Wop, especially today. "I was the first one to be dropped off. As I was exiting the car, I knew that the altercation which occurred would end up in me no longer being his tour deejay, but I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see my friend."

HipHopDX extends condolences and sympathies to the son of one of our staff's most-respected emcees, the Elam
family, Solar, DJ Premier and fans.

Source: HipHopDX

Some of BlackRadioIsBack.com's Personal Favorite Music Videos featuring Guru:

Gang Starr - Jazz Thing

Gang Starr - Just To Get A Rep

Gang Starr - Positivity

Gang Starr - Full Clip

Gang Starr - Mass Appeal

Gang Starr - Suckas Need Bodyguards

Gang Starr - Ex Girl to Next Girl

Guru's Jazzmatazz - Lifesaver

Guru's Jazzmatazz - Feel The Music

Guru`s Jazzmatazz (feat. N'Dea Davenport) - Trust Me

Guru's Jazzmatazz feat. MC Solaar - Le Bien, Le Mal

Guru's Jazzmatazz feat. Chaka Khan - Watch What You Say



LDUTheCoach said...

Another hip-hop great meets their end. So unfortunate. Guru was def one of the best and will be missed by those that truly loved the music. For a tribute to one of the greatest and the man who formed the rap group GangStarr please go to : http://www.lionsdenu.com/gangstarrs-guru-dies-at-age-43-rip-keith-elam/
Rest in Peace Keith Elam Aka Guru

My rap battle blog entry said...

I'm mad that Guru died why do all our celebrities die before they get old