Sad News Today We Lost a Legend RIP Guru… He Loses His Battle to Cancer

From DJ Premier’s Blog RIP GURU

This is heartbreaking news to lose a legend like Guru..It’s heartbreaking reading his letter which personally I find a bit suspect..I’ve known Guru since 1991 or 92.. Always had a good relationship when he came to the Bay.. He made a special trip and opened up for my old Friday Night Vibe radio show.. He blessed it. He came to a surprise birthday party a couple of years later and blessed the crowd with a nice promptu performance. Over the years he’s come by shows numerous times and always had good conversation and keen insight..

Can’t say for sure what his relationship with Solar has been, but it definitely made a cool friendship strained. The last time I saw him about two years ago,  I had stayed over from a scheduled trip to catch up with Guru.. We sat down started off doing a nice interview  and suddenly it went south.. He bolted out in the middle of an interview because his boy Solar who I included in the interview got upset when I asked ‘How Do You Guys as veterans in the rap game manage to stay relevant for today’s audience? He took offense and claimed they weren’t old men.. said he didn’t wanna do the interview, Guru looked at Solar and bolted out..He bounced out refused to talk unless Solar said it was cool which he didn’t and that was pretty much last time I chopped it up with him…That was too bad….

In any case I wish him well in the afterlife He was a good dude…Today we lost a legend and he will be missed

-Davey D-

Guru aka Keith Elam has passed away yesterday morning (April 19) after a long battle with cancer.

According to Solar, Guru suffered from the malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed, the legendary MC succumbed to the disease. Guru always tried to keep this harrowing diagnosis in private but in early 2010 he had to admit himself to hospital due to serious effects caused by the disease.

Since the onset of illness, Guru tried to live a “normal” life as an influential and outstanding musician, loving father, family man, and best friend. Doctors encouraged Guru to think positive that the cancer can be arrested and that a full recovery is possible but several special treatments including hard hitting chemotherapies failed.

While in hospital with terminal cancer, Guru wrote a letter, which was provided by Solar, to his fans addressing his illness, his shining music career, his family and loved ones.

“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,” read the official Guru statement.

“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.”

The statement reads on, “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.”

Guru, born Keith Elam, rose to fame in the 80’s as the founder of the legendary rap group GangStarr. The group released the classic single Words I Manifest followed by their critically acclaimed debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989) and the classic album Step In The Arena (1991). Guru was the first artist to truly blend Hip-Hop with Live Jazz beginning in 1993, and seeing the vast influences his Jazzmatazz concept has had on the industry, it is clear that Guru’s musical contributions have been way ahead of their time. Guru has worked with such great artists as Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Roy Ayers, Chaka Kahn, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Bob James, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Common, Angie Stone, Jamiroquai, Macy Gray and Damien Marley, to name a few. Despite the fact that Guru isn’t hailing from New York, he is noted as a pioneer of the New York sound and true lyrical Hip-Hop. Guru later on joined forces with hit producer Solar and formed his label 7 Grand Records with the goal to keep “real” Hip-Hop alive.

Guru’s longtime partner, Solar, issues an official statement about the lost of the legendary MC which you can read below:

“The world has lost one of the best MCs and Hip-Hop icons of all time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru! 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. For the fans that reached out with love and support, I can’t tell you how much that meant to Guru and myself. Guru prepared this letter [read above] while he was in the hospital for the fans. I hope now that Guru has moved on to a better place! Guru is a great Black American Hero and should always be remembered as such and he is much more that just a Hip-Hop icon — he has changed the world for the better. I salute my fallen brother Guru! He will be missed tremendously!” Solar stated.

We will sorely miss Guru, both from a personal and from a professional standpoint. Our warmest condolences to Guru’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

19 comments on “Sad News Today We Lost a Legend RIP Guru… He Loses His Battle to Cancer

  1. Solar is pathetic at his attempt to make people believe that even on his death bed, Guru is writing letters harboring resentment against Premier and calling Solar a hit producer. Man please. This is just sad on multiple levels. One thing is correct though. Guru has to be in a better place now without that evil force around him nonstop. RIP Guru.

  2. this is such a sad day for hip-hop even I’m almost in tears my damm self (for real) I didn’t know him but dammit I was in the begginnings of high school when he came out I bough his tape on the first day it came out and played it all day long nothing else but that tape all day long I’v never done that with any other rapper till his date. I’m going to miss him, this is such a big loss to hip hop he had so many more years to go!! why him?!!! RIP GURU

  3. DAMN…Gurus gone! wtf. The whole thing w/solar feels so fishy. A man on his deathbed, writing his last letter ever is really gonna focus that much on things of the ego. Making sure Primo don’t use his name and stuff. I have a hard time believing that in the face of death petty things like that were truly what was going on in his heart and mind. What a great loss. Gonna miss Guru for sure.

  4. Statik said it perfectly…Usually when someone KNOWS they are getting ready to make their physical transition from Earth, they take time to mend ALL beefs they had with ANY people so they can make a PEACEFUL transition to spirit!…Shame on this dude solar, you can FEEL the lies and disrespect throughout HIS, NOT Guru’s entire letter, we will PRAY for that dude…LONG LIVE GANGSTARR – GURU & DJ PREMIER, FOREVER!!! WORD!!!

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  6. I am devastated by the news of Guru’s passing. I’ve listened to Gang Starr all the time, especially in these last few years. Though I didn’t know the guy personally, his music made an ordinary day turn good, or if it was a good day, even better. Rest In Peace Guru.

  7. RIP Keith Elam the Guru. Your music and soul will live on forever. Gangstarr is still among my favorite groups. Thank you for your gift brother I know your soul will live on. RIP

  8. I am so disgusted by the hiphop movement right now. If Solar doesn’t come up floating face down in a river within one week, I quite hiphop! lol…

    That can’t be Guru’s last letter. In his song “Lifesaver” he rhymes “It takes a more intelligent man to squash a fight
    than to set one off, knowledge I’ll let some off “.

    Guru will RIP when we unmask his identity thief.

  9. this is something for sho. in a sense i grew up with guru/gangstarr. I saw hip hop thru the same eyes as Guru. MAY THE ANCESTORS BE PLEASE WITH HIM. And who the hell is solar? , until i see a tape of guru saying this ,i dont believe the letter. ‘BROTHERS BE PLAYING THEMSELVES TO GET MASS APPEAL”

  10. “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.”

    this is just in poor taste, considering the circumstances. it’s highly doubtful that Guru authored this statement.

    Solar’s legacy will be far different from what he has apparently written, while Preemo’s legacy is already legendary. He is much more than a DJ, obviously, and i dont think any other producer–including Guru himself–was able to utilize that gravelly monotone as a musical instrument in exactly the same way.

    Guru and Preemo for many defined hip-hop in the late 80s/early 90s. their street-level intellectualisms packed a powerful musical and lyrical punch, and they were one of the last vestiges of non-corporate rap.

    i, for one, will be listening to all my old gangstarr joints and lighting up a joint on 4/20 for Guru.

  11. That letter is the shadiest sh#t I’ve ever seen. Solar has got his hand in something, for real.

  12. This man taught me allot about life when I was a Lil’ guy doing my thing – I will allways adore your music. One love Ilove and miss U GURU.

  13. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Keith “GURU” Elam! I have been a huge admirer of his music since “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” I remember hearing a song GURU did before he hooked up with D.J. Premier. He did the song with Damo-D, and I heard it on one of Red Alert’s mix shows that my cousin actually recorded on cassette back in 1988! For many years, he and Premo have blessed us with some of the dopest HipHop music ever! It was always a treat when Gang Starr came out with something new. I would literally get a rush whenever I’d listen to their music, particularly with “Step In The Arena,” “Daily Operation,” and ‘Hard To Earn!” Man those were CLASSIC albums! I was really hoping we would someday be blessed with just ONE MORE Gang Starr album. His Jazzmatazz albums were really cool, also. I really liked all of them! It was amazing how he was able to work with all of those awesome musicians on his Jazzmatazz albums!
    He may be gone, but he will forever be remembered!
    “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal” – GURU
    Thanks Bro. Davey!

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