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4.20.2010

R.I.P. Guru

It is truly a sad time in hip-hop as we have lost one of the greatest of all time. The emcee half of the legendary duo, Gang Starr, Guru a.k.a. Keith Elam has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Keeping it private from his fans, family and friends, the cancer took Guru's life just yesterday, almost two months after he suffered from cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma.

Although originally a Bostonian, Guru will forever be known as one of the pioneers of hip-hop's New York street sound. When writing "Break It Down" for the Dilla Pickles project, I thought of Guru when writing the "Here's how hip-hop's supposed to sound" chorus.

Gang Starr's six albums that spanned from No More Mr. Nice Guy in 1989 to The Ownerz in 2003 epitomized the hard-edged, neck-snapping sound that hip-hop heads worldwide have made their religion to follow.

Of course, backed by the one-of-a-kind production of DJ Premier, who has concocted countless classic beats for such artists as Nas, Jay-Z, Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, The Notorious B.I.G., KRS-One, Common, Big Daddy Kane and so many more, Gang Starr's music stands at the top of hip-hop's most favoured sounds.

Guru's influence has impacted the lives of hip-hop fans of all kinds. I remember a time when Big Daddy Donnie's ringtone was "Work" from Gang Starr's Moment Of Truth album. He took great pride in hearing it go off whenever someone called him. Needless to say, it impressed me.

Guru did his part in furthering Canadian hip-hop as well. As his Toronto Blue Jays cap shown in the picture above may indicate, Guru was down with us Canucks. He appeared on Choclair's debut album Ice Cold in 1999 helping it to go gold in Canada, only after he had already sampled Choc's voice in the lead single from Moment Of Truth, "You Know My Steez".

Guru also played a major role in pushing the career of Montreal emcee, Bless. Like with J Dilla, I only had the opportunity to meet Guru once. Just long enough to get his autograph at a Gang Starr concert.

He will truly be missed. If you haven't been up on his music, there is no time like the present to YouTube the hell out of Guru and Gang Starr. Hip-hop is truly a lot wacker today without him.

God bless and rest in everlasting peace, Guru.


2 comments: on "R.I.P. Guru"

Dante Ross said...

I had no idea dude had cancer. That sucks ass. Guru was so bad ass. At one point everyone was blasting "Dwick" (sure I spelled that wrong) in their cars. I found out about Jeru through Gangstarr. Met him once at The Beverly Center and by met I mean we locked eyes and I nodded my head and he did the same. This blows.

Anonymous said...

One of the top 5 most distinctive voices in Hip Hop. He will be missed. Skillz...