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Remembering Gang Starr’s Guru: One Year Later

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Legendary rapper Guru, born Keith Elam, passed away one year ago today (April 19) at the age of 48, due to complications resulting from cardiac arrest and a prolonged battle with cancer.

The Boston born rapper was one half of the pioneering hip-hop duo Gang Starr, which he founded in the early ’80s. Guru would go on to team with DJ Premier later in the decade to release Gang Starr’s 1989 debut album, ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’ Together they released six successful albums, including 1998′s critically acclaimed ‘Moment of Truth’ and ‘Step In the Arena,’ which produced radio-friendly singles such as ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Just to Get a Rep.’

Guru eventually parted ways with Primo to kick off his solo career in 1993, releasing the first installation of his famed Jazzmatazz series. In total, Guru released four volumes of Jazzmatazz spanning from 1993 through 2007, during which time he founded both of his labels Ill Kid Records and 7 Grand.

In recent years, Guru worked with producer Solar to release four albums via 7 Grand Records, including 2009′s ‘Lost and Found,’ which Guru told the BoomBox explored “how many times hip-hop has been exploited and used for selfish means.”

At the time of his death, Guru’s relationship with Solar came under scrutiny, as the producer was accused of keeping the sick rapper away from his family and friends — including DJ Premier — and exploiting his death for publicity.

DJ Premier would later detail his final moments with Guru, in the hospital, saying, “I wore a Gang Starr shirt first of all; just for the energy and so he knew that that’s forever with us.”

Rest in Peace Guru.


Watch Gang Starr’s ‘Code of the Streets’

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