Gang Starr’s Guru

Gang Starr’s Keith “Guru” Elam lost his fight with cancer on Monday, April 19th, at the age of 43. News first broke that the rapper was ill when he was admitted to a hospital in March 2010 after suffering from cardiac arrest and slipping into a coma. Although Guru had been battling cancer for a year, he preferred to keep his diagnosis private, according to friend and collaborator Solar.

The hip-hop community is saddened at the loss of the musical icon, with Diddy, Q-tip and Russell Simmons amongst those expressing condolences to Guru’s loved ones. According to Solar, the fading rapper wrote a final goodbye letter to friends, fans and family while on his deathbed. However, some members of the hip-hop community, including former Gang Starr partner DJ Premier, have taken issue with the letter, which emphasizes Solar’s role and contributions to Guru’s life. Some speculate that the letter may have been forged or altered. The note, which was posted on, reads:

“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.”

Despite the drama, Guru’s legacy should remain the focus during this unfortunate time. He founded a non-profit organization, Each One Counts, which is “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,” according to the alleged farewell letter.

Guru first made his way to the MC arena in the ‘80s, garnering buzz for his unique sound and intelligent lyrics. The MC teamed up with DJ Premiere to form Gang Starr, a duo that was a staple on the early ‘90’s underground rap scene. Guru ventured into solo territory in 1993, combining elements of jazz with hip-hop to produce “Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1.” He produced three other Jazzmatazz albums before releasing his most recent solo effort “Lost and Found” in May 2009.

Written by Shaira Brereton

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