Keith "Guru" Elam (1961-2010)
This announcement comes from me with a heavy heart . . .
Can we please have a few more moments of silence for . . .
Keith "Guru" Elam of Gang Starr who passed away on Monday (April 19) after a long bout with cancer. He was 48. His brother, Harry Elam Jr., told the New York Times that the rapper was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last summer and in February was hospitalized with respiratory problems. Soon afterward, he went into cardiac arrest and fell into a coma, from which he did not recover.
"The Elam family wishes to thank the fans of our son/brother/father uncle/nephew/cousin Keith aka GURU for the outpouring of love, concern and support," said Guru's sister, Patricia Elam, via a statement. "Our hearts are broken by the loss of someone we loved so much. GURU was devoted to his young son, who will most keenly feel his absence. GURU died far too young but he was, and we are, proud of all his many legendary musical contributions."
Guru (acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) was one-half of the pioneering rap group Gang Starr along with his partner DJ Premier. Although they were not natives of New York -- Guru was from Boston and DJ Premier from Houston, Texas -- they were one of the most respected rap duos from the Big Apple. Their discography includes six influential albums, two of which, went gold -- Moment of Truth and Full Clip, their greatest-hits collection. With his monotone gruffed-voice, Guru rapped about a myriad of topics: knowledge of self ("Words I Manifest," "Positivity" ), party anthems ("Dwyck"), street tales ("Code of the Streets," "Just to Get a Rep") and the rap game ("Skillz," "Mass Appeal"). Guru also is considered the first artist to successfully bridge rap with live jazz (aka "Jazz Rap"), particularly on his Jazzmatazz albums, which featured jazz musicians (Brandford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers) performing over smoothed-out hip-hop beats.
If you want to leave your condolences to Guru and his family, click HERE.
Here are a few Gang Starr Tributes:
NODFACTOR - "You Have To Be God Minded"
When I was a novice music editor for a rap fanzine called BEAT•DOWN magazine, I assigned a Gang Starr interview to a then-eager music journalist named Jerry Barrow. Jerry posted his 1998 interview with Gang Starr on his blog NODFACTOR. It's a good read.
Rap Radar - YN Editorial: I Got Five On It
The Almighty YN (aka Elliott Wilson) typed an elegant tribute to Guru, in which he reflects on Gang Starr's great album Moment of Truth.
Slang Rap Democracy - Guru + Gang Starr Videos: All Of Them
That's right. Every music video from Guru and Gang Starr. All . . . of . . . them.
MTV: Sway Remembers Guru
Gang Starr -- "Mass Appeal" (Live on Arsenio Hall Show)
Props: Meaning of Dope
Rest in Power, Guru. You will be sorely missed. We love you.