Over the weekend, it struck me that I hadn’t heard any news on the condition of Keith Elam AKA Guru. Guru-1/2 of legendary hip-hop duo Gang Starr as well as a solo artist-suffered a heart attack and had slipped into a coma a month or so ago. I woke up this morning to the sad news that Guru had passed away.
Not only was Guru almost solely responsible for putting Boston on the hip-hop map, but he’s also one of the artists most responsible for combining jazz with rap and as such, creating the style that informed much early 90s hip-hop. While the Gang Starr albums took a more rugged approach, his “Jazzmatazz” albums (there are four of them, and they’re all good) matched him up with a who’s who of jazz and R&B-from Donald Byrd to Meshell Ndegeocello to Chaka Khan. In an era of folks who go into hip-hop solely as a means of acquiring fame and/or money, Guru was all about the music.
He will be missed.