Guru Dead at 48
Legendary rapper Guru, born Keith Elam, has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 48. According to a statement, Guru died of cancer-related causes on Monday. In February, the rapper, one half of ’90s rap group Gang Starr, underwent surgery following a heart attack and struggled thereafter with reports of him falling in a coma before being listed as stable in early March.
The Boston born rapper, who eventually went on to rep for Brooklyn, formed the pioneering hip-hop duo in the mid-80s, teaming with DJ Premier in the late ’80s. Gang Starr’s debut album was 1989’s ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ and together Guru and Premier went on to release several successful albums, including the critically lauded ‘Moment of Truth.’ Guru stepped out on his own in 1993. His solo work includes four volumes of the Jazzmatazz series, and he later launched both Ill Kid Records and 7 Grand record labels.
Guru’s longtime collaborator and friend MC Solar released a statement to express his grief at the lost of the great MC. “The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru,” Solaar wrote. “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.”
According to Solaar, while battling cancer in the hospital, Guru prepared a farewell letter to be read once he’d passed on.
“I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world,” the letter begins. “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 [of] myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.”
The letter continues with Guru making it poignantly clear that even in death he’d like to separate himself from his estranged partner Premier, with whom the rapper has reportedly not spoken to in seven years.
“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,” wrote Guru. “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 Gang Starr, I am very proud of what Gang Starr 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 Gang Starr or ‘Jazzmatazz’ 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.”