I have only just left hospital myself after my own surgery to hear the sad news that GURU KEITHY E (KEITH ELAM) from the legendary hip hop group GANG STARR passed away yesterday 19th April. According to the New Musical Express website he had been suffering with cancer for a year and also the after effects of his heart attack late in 2009. I personally am upset by the news, and it also puts into perspective my own medical problems of late. GURU and I are of similar age, so it seems I am getting off lightly.
You don't need me to tell you what kind of effect GANG STARR as a crew had on hip hop music. Suffice to say their sound became a blueprint for success, and synonymous with that boom bap sound of the 90s. The GANG STARR concept actually began in the 80s with DJ MARK THE 45KING originally providing the beats and cuts for GURU, followed by DJ PREMIER a few years later who took control of the beats and turned GANG STARR into one the popular hip hop groups. I remember first hearing HARD TO EARN lp in 94 and despite loving NO MORE MR. NICE GUY, STEP IN THE ARENA, and DAILY OPERATION LPs, I couldn't believe it was still possible to take it up a notch on a fourth album. And they achieved this level of competence. No weak sauce. Ask any SERIOUS hip hopper and he will no doubt drop the GANG STARR name in his all time top 10. Trust me on that.
I may not be a huge fan of GURU's solo work, and I am also disgusted at what I read of GURU's producer/business handler SOLAR (let's leave that subject alone) but more importantly I am saddened that we have lost half of the duo whose logo was the chain and the star. A logo which has been on my lab wall for over 15 years. I bought the poster from their 1994 London gig at THE FORUM in Kentish Town. What a night - real hip hop my man.
GURU you will be sorely missed. Love goes out to your friends a family, and a huge thanks to you personally for your contribution to this music we love. It was by no means a small one.