Hip-Hop Legend Guru Dies At Age 43
Legendary emcee Guru and one half of the infamous hip-hop duo Gang Starr died on Monday at the age of 43 after battling cancer (July 17, 1966—April 19, 2010). The Boston-born rapper had been fighting the illness for the past year and was in a coma for the past two months.
After more than 25 years in the music industry, Guru will be greatly missed.
Born Keith Elam, Guru was the epitome of a versatile rapper. Credited with being the first to fuse hip-hop and jazz, his smooth style emulated his name (the acronym stood for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal). With his message of “knowledge, wisdom and understanding,” the rap pioneer brought passion, art and purity to the sound waves, both with his collaborative work with Gang Starr (check 1998′s classic Moment Of Truth album) and solo efforts, especially his all-star Jazzmatazz series.
We want to salute the legendary emcee for giving us great hip-hop memories and setting a precedent for aspiring artists on what it means to be a gifted emcee.
Guru is rumored to have written the following deathbed letter to his fans:
I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.
I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody’s feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.
I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.
Condolences to his past DJ/partner DJ Premier, more recent producer/partner Solar and, most importantly, his friends and family.
Check out “You Know My Steez” by the legendary group Gang Starr:
For a full history of Guru, Gang Starr and more, head to MTV.com.