Wednesday, April 21, 2010

R.I.P. Guru

Two days ago, the world Hip-Hop community lost a dedicated and pioneering figure, Keith "Guru" Elam. About a month ago, Guru was rushed to the hospital for undetermined reasons and he ended up in a week-long coma. After a short recovery it looked like things were on the up and up, however news came Monday that he had succumbed to some sort of Cancer. He was 43.

As a member of Gang Starr, his unique flow combined with the epic turntable skills of DJ Premier to create one of the strongest and most respected groups in Rap. In fact, I remember Gang Starr being one of the first rap groups to cross over from their core group of Hip Hop Heads, into the new genre of Urban Sk8r Kids. That paved the way for a lot of other conscious rappers like KRS-ONE and Jurassic 5 to find new audiences to listen to and appreciate their music. 

Guru hailed from the Roxbury Section of Boston, (a place where I  have spent time, and can vouch for how ghetto and dangerous it is) but his message spread across the country and even the world. After a disbanding Gang Starr, he continued to blend genres with his Rap/Soul/Funk/RnB fusion albums, Guru's Jazzmattaz. On those records he worked with such varied greats as Isaac Hayes, Donald Byrd, Erykah Badu, Jamiroquai, Herbie Hancock and The Roots. His eclectic mix of influences were extremely evident on these releases and it helped to cement his place as one of the more dependable and versatile MC's in the game. 

I know a ton of people, myself included, who are just heartbroken to hear the news of Guru's passing. His lyrics inspire a code of conduct that goes way beyond the streets into every day life, regardless of your socio-eco-political standing. The outpouring of love and support since his death only goes to show the effect his music had on people. It is up to us to make sure his music will live on. R.I.P. Guru.

Song #137: Gang Starr - Moment of Truth

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