RIP Keith Elam aka Guru from Gang Starr

Very sad news to hear that Guru succumbed to a recent battle with cancer this morning.  I can’t even count how many headphone spins Gang Starr got back and forth to class while I was in college.  It was “Mostly Tha Voice” that made him instantly recognizable and although I loved the smooth monotone I always felt he was underrated as a lyricist because he chose to keep things very straight-forward and ground level especially during an era when every MC at the time was trying to out-complex each other (see Tha Damaja, Jeru).  The first Jazzmatazz installment was also essential listening and schooled me to many jazz artists I had previously never heard of.  I remember specifically writing down names from his infamous closer to Spike Lee’s Mo Better Blues, “A Jazz Thing” so I could hunt them down later.  He was originally from Boston but relocated to Brooklyn and few repped the borough more consistently.  There was a period of time when you couldn’t go to a hiphop party without hearing one of his classic anthems like “DWYCK”, “Mass Appeal” or “You Know My Steez”.  Guru and Premier always showed their generosity by giving many young MC’s their first (and unfortunately sometimes last) real chance in the spotlight and remained one of the few groups in hiphop that kept quality at a very high level through their entire career.  We lost one of the best today.  RIP Guru

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