Wow folks I don’t make these things up.. really I don’t… But it speaks volumes as to what’s going on today…Wonder how many times this happened before and we just assumed it was as was shown and stated..
My brother, Gang Starr’s Guru
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Boston-born Keith Elam, who rose to fame as Guru, founder of the rap group Gang Starr and a person who sought to merge rap and jazz,died earlier this week. His brother, Harry, a distinguished professor of drama at Stanford, has written this remembrance).
“Positivity, that’s how I’m livin..’” So goes the lyric from my brother’s early hip-hop song, “Positivity.” My brother Keith Elam, the hip-hop artist known as GURU—Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal—died this week at the too-young age of 48 because of complications from cancer. ‘Positivity’ was what he sought to bring to the music and to his life, and for me that will be a large part of his legacy.
In February of this year, my brother went into a coma, and I traveled across the country from my home in California to see him. At his bedside, I stood and stared at his overly frail frame, his head that he had kept clean-shaven for the last 20 years uncommonly covered with hair, his body connected to a sea of tubes and wires. I listened to the whirl of machines around us and took his hand. As I did, my mind flashed back to now-distant times, so many memories. And I saw us as teenagers at the beach on Cape Cod playing in the water together. And I saw us as boys, driving to school. My brother was five years younger than me, so we attended the same school only for one year — my senior year, his seventh-grade year — at Noble and Greenough School, and I would often drive us both to school. Invariably, I made us late, yet my brother, never as stressed as me, was always impressively calm. At school he endured the jests and teasing from the other boys about being my “little brother.” I was president of the school and had charted a certain path at Nobles. But my brother found his own creative route at school, as he would throughout his life. His journey was never easy, never direct, but inventive. Through it all he remained fiercely determined with a clear and strong sense of self.
Over the years I had proudly watched my brother perform in a wide variety of contexts. While at Nobles, we had a black theatre troupe known as “the Family.” In 1973, we put on a play entitled ”A Medal for Willie,” by William Branch, and because he was only in the seventh grade, Keith played only a small role, but even then you could see his flair for performance, his comfort on the stage. At home, our older sister Patricia would teach him the latest dances, and he would execute them with verve as I watched from the sidelines, impressed with his moves, and not without a few twinges of jealousy since I’ve always had two left feet. As a teenager he raced as a speed skater. I do not remember how he became involved in the sport; I only remember traveling with my family to watch his meets in the suburbs of Boston. I do not remember if he won or lost, I do know that he always competed with great ferocity and commitment.
When he announced to me that he was dropping out of graduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a career in rap, I thought he was making a grave mistake and warned him against it. But as always he was determined, and in the end he would succeed beyond perhaps what even he had imagined. Early on in his rap journey, he visited me in Washington., D.C., over a Thanksgiving weekend. I was teaching at the University of Maryland then, and we went to what was perhaps the most dreadful party we had ever attended. As we hastened out the door, I apologized for bringing him to this party. My brother replied “let’s write a rap song about it,” and we did. The lyrics made us laugh as we collaborated on the rhyme scheme and rode off into the D.C. night. It is one of my fondest memories, this spontaneous brotherly moment of collaboration and play.
Keith’s big break came with Spike Lee’s film ”Mo’ Better Blues,” with his song “A Jazz Thing” underscoring the credits. I watched that film over and over again just to hear my brother at its end. Soon he was on to creating his first Jazzmatazz album with others to follow, and he became credited for creating a fusion between jazz and hip hop. To be sure, that fusion owes something to our grandfather Edward Clark and Keith’s godfather, George Johnson, who introduced Keith to jazz by playing their favorite albums for him. He credits them both on his first Jazzmatazz. That first Jazzmatazz album featured musical heroes of my youth, Roy Ayers, and Donald Byrd, and here was my brother featuring them on his album. And with this success, came tours. I have seen him perform all over the world, and each time he would give a shout out from the stage to his brother and my wife, Michele. And I was so proud. It sometimes struck me with awe that all these people were there to see my brother. I watched him deal out magic; he was in his element feeling the crowd, and them responding to his groove. This was my baby brother, the kid with whom I once shared a room. The kid whose asthma would cause him to hack and cough and wheeze at night keeping me up. But when I would complain, my parents would send me out of the room. The message was clear: Love your siblings, whatever their frailties. Shorter than me and slighter of build, my brother suffered from asthma and allergies his whole life, but he was always a survivor.
Back in 1993, when he played at Stanford University, I was in perhaps my third year as a professor there. As I walked into the auditorium that night, the assembled audience of students looked at me with a new awareness, “that’s the Guru’s brother,” not that’s Professor Elam, but the Guru’s brother.
And I was, and am, the Guru’s brother. I admired and loved him deeply, my little brother. And I was and am so proud of him, and how he made his dreams reality . And with the outpouring of love that has crowded my e-mail with his passing, I know that he touched so many with his music. My brother cared deeply about family. He raps of my parents in more than one song. They are featured on his video “Ex girl to next girl.” It was one thing seeing my brother on MTV; it was another seeing my parents. His son K.C. was the joy of his was the joy of his life.
The doctors told me back in February that there was not much chance of my brother recovering from the coma. But my brother has always been a fighter, always been one to overcome surprising adversities, so this seemed just one more. We prayed that he would again prevail. But it was not to be. Still his drive, his spirit, his energy, his positivity will live on, and so will his music. “that’s how I’m livin…”
Harry J. Elam Jr. is the chairman of the drama department at Stanford University and the author of several books, including “The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson.”
This is crazy.. and remarkably similar to what just happened in South Africa.. Crazy White Supremacist got killed over there..
This past weekend Neo-Nazi’s got smashed on in LA and now this…
Slain Miss. white supremacist was stabbed, beaten
PEARL, Miss. – A white supremacist lawyer known for riding his bicycle around his quiet, rural neighborhood was stabbed and beaten to death by a black neighbor who had done yard work for him, police said Friday.
A preliminary autopsy showed Richard Barrett, 67, was stabbed multiple times in the neck and bashed in the head, Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said. He had burns over 35 percent of his body, though investigators believe he was killed Wednesday night and his house set on fire Thursday to cover up his death.
Pennington did not disclose a motive but said neighbor Vincent McGee, 22, was charged with murder Thursday and deputies charged three other people in the case Friday. Albert Lewis, McGee’s stepfather, was charged with being an accessory after the fact, while Vicky and Michael Dent, who live nearby, are charged with being accessories after the fact and arson.
Pennington did not describe their involvement but said all three were being held at the county jail. He did not know if they had attorneys.
Barrett traveled the country to promote anti-black and anti-immigrant views and founded a supremacist group called the Nationalist Movement. He had a knack for publicity but little real influence, one expert said.
“Richard Barrett was a guy who ran around the country essentially pulling off publicity stunts,” said Mark Potok, who monitors hate groups for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. “He really never amounted to any kind of leader in the white supremacist movement.”
His body was found Thursday morning after neighbors saw smoke coming from his house in a rural area of Jackson.
The sheriff said McGee had not yet hired a lawyer and the suspect’s mother had no comment when she went to the jail where her son was being held.
McGee was released from state prison in February after serving five years of a six-year sentence for simple assault on a police officer and grand larceny.
Barrett, a New York City native and Vietnam War veteran, moved to Mississippi in 1966, just before he founded the Nationalist Movement. He ran it from an office in the small rural town of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson, where he also ran a school for skinheads.
Barrett attracted about 50 supporters to a 2008 rally protesting the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the Louisiana town of Jena, where six black teenagers were charged with beating a white classmate. Years earlier, he sued over a ban on Confederate flags at University of Mississippi football games.
His modest, one-story brick home with white columns and shutters sits off a winding rural road. Yellow police tape was stretched across the yard and investigators worked on the scene late into the day.
Residents described the neighborhood as quiet and safe. Henderson Craig, who lives a few houses down, said Barrett mainly kept to himself though he was often seen riding his bicycle.
In 1994, he spearheaded an unsuccessful movement to get then-Gov. Kirk Fordice to pardon Byron de la Beckwith, who was convicted of murdering Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers in 1963.
Evers’ brother, Charles Evers of Jackson, said Thursday he has long thought that Barrett didn’t really believe the things he said, but used them to entice people to donate money to his cause.
“I think it was just a way he had to live,” Evers said. “He made a living talking all that racist talk.”
Associated Press Writer Jack Elliott contributed to this report.