Damn this was the first news of the day for me.

Gang Starr’s Guru Dead At 43

Legendary rapper succumbed to cancer on Monday after suffering a heart attack last month.

By Gil Kaufman(courtesy of http://www.mtv.com)

Just over a month since undergoing surgery following a heart attack, Gang Starr MC Guru (born Keith Elam) has died at age 43. According to a statement, Guru died of cancer-related causes on Monday after a long fight with the disease.

Guru’s longtime collaborator and partner Solar mourns his loss in the statement and explains that Guru had written a letter to his fans that was to be released upon his death.

“The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru,” Solar said. “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.”

Born on July 17, 1966, near Boston, Guru rose to fame in the late 1980s as part of the duo Gang Starr with partner DJ Premier. The pair helped define the New York underground rap sound in the 1990s. Their unique sound combined Premier’s production palette, which leaned heavily on sampled jazz records and scratched vocals on the choruses, with Guru’s uncompromising rhymes. Although the pair would work separately as often as they did together — Guru’s Jazzmatazzseries of albums and Premier’s work with Nas, Jay-Z, and underground act Group Home — Gang Starr continued to release critically acclaimed material throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Their 1998 album Moment of Truth was among their most critically lauded collections and Gang Starr’s biggest-selling project to date. Gang Starr’s last group project, The Ownerz, was released in 2003.

Guru found solo fame in 1993 when he released the first volume of his Jazzmatazz series, an all-star project that featured a number of collaborations with jazz icons such as Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers and Ronny Jordan, as well as vocals from French producer Solaar and N’Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies. The album’s mixture of jazz and rap was considered pioneering at the time, and the record spawned the hit “Trust Me.” Guru would go on to make four volumes in the series.

Guru wrote his farewell letter while in the hospital, according to Solar. “I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world,” it 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.”

Guru very pointedly distanced himself from Premier in the letter, saying he didn’t want his former musical collaborator to be able to participate in any tributes or events surrounding his death.

“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.

More information here

GURU Bio(Courtesy of New.Yahoo.Music.com):

Rapper/composer Guru (real name Keith Elam) first rose to prominence as the “lyrical half” of the hip-hop duo Gang Starr, one of the first outfits that attempted to fuse jazz with rap. After three albums by Gang Starr hit record store shelves (1989’s No More Mr. Nice Guy, 1991’s Step in the Arena, and 1992’s Daily Operation), Guru launched his own solo career, issuing Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 in 1993. The album featured guest appearances by the likes of Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, and N’Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies, and was followed up two years later by a sophomore solo outing, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality, which again featured a variety of special guests (including Ramsey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, and members of Jamiroquai). Despite his solo career, Guru has remained true to Gang Starr all along, continuing to contribute to such further albums as 1994’s Hard to Earn and 1998’s Moment of Truth. Five years after his second solo outing appeared, Streetsoul was issued in 2000, which again featured a stellar cast of supporting characters: Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, the Roots, Erykah Badu, and Macy Gray. Wasting little time, Guru returned directly back to the recording studio, issuing a follow-up one year later, Baldhead Slick & da Click. In addition to the aforementioned artists, Guru has collaborated with some of rap music’s best-known producers, including fellow Gang Starr member DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Alchemist, Ayatollah, and DJ Spinna, as well as Ice-T, Naughty by Nature’s Treach, Killah Priest, and Ed O.G. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide

My First Official GANGSTARR Post

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