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US Hip Hop Pioneer Dies

Reported by JontySkrufff on April 22, 2010

New York hip-hop legend Guru (real name Keith Elam) has died aged 43, following a ‘long battle with cancer’.

The Jazzmatazz founder and erstwhile leading member of Gang Starr (real name Keith Alam) died in a New York hospital two months after he suffered a cardiac arrest. Close collaborator Solar issued a statement announcing his death, which included a final letter he said was written by Guru.

“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,” Solar’s letter stated.

“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.”

Taking a decidedly darker note, the letter concluded with a paragraph condemning Guru’s previous Gang Starr partner DJ Premier.

“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,” Solar said Guru wrote.

“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.”

Solar’s press release prompted a deluge of immediate internet conspiracy theories suggesting Solar might have written the letter followed by the rapid emergence of the Twitter hashtag #fucksolar.

Googling Gang Starr also revealed little of Guru’s loathing for his former partner, with the duo’s Wiki entry including a quote from Premier dated from as recently as 2007 which indicated no animosity between the pair, certainly from Premier’s perspective.

"If Guru wants to do it I’m down, it’s really up to him,” Premier told the Red Bull Academy in September of that year on the possibilities of reforming, “He’s the one that said we should pause for a minute and if that’s how he feels fine by me. If he calls me tomorrow and says I’m ready to start, I’m ready."

Chatting to Skrufff in 2008, Guru made no mention of Premier at all, instead taking the time to criticise younger rappers for promoting gang culture.

“I have seen it (gang culture) grow and grow and there are not enough people committed from the community taking the time to connect with these young people,” Guru suggested, “Plus the messages in the music are glorifying the wrong elements.”

He also criticised rappers for ‘influencing others immensely despite most never having lived such lives’ and offered poignant advice for those wanting to emulate his success.

“Be yourself, be original, keep real people around you and stay diligent and focused,” Guru recommended.

“Stay on your grind. If you want longevity and integrity then it may not always be about the money. Don’t sell-out. Peace!” he concluded. Gang Starr: Just To Get A RepJonty Skrufff ( Follow Jonty on Twitter