“The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru. Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.”
-Longtime Guru collaborator Solar, announcing the passing of one of a true legend in the hip-hop game. The 43-year-old Guru passed away on Monday (April 19) due to cancer-related issues. As one half of Gang Starr (along with beatsmith DJ Premier), Guru (born Keith Elam) established a sound and a vibe that helped define underground hip-hop in the ’90s. His Jazzmatazz albums further pushed the envelope, blurring the lines between jazz, traditional rap, R&B, soul and everything in between. Guru wasn’t showy or extra dynamic as an MC, but he had a smooth, rugged flow that provided a perfect vehicle for his literate, thoughtful raps. His talent and his energy will be sorely missed.
His passing is not without controversy. Guru has been estranged from his family for years, and several members have complained that Solar completely cut him off from them. He had not had any contact with former Gang Starr partner DJ Premier. And many fans are questioning the validity of the farewell letter that Guru supposedly left behind.
What was your favorite song or album that featured a Guru contribution? Let us know in the comments!