A Legend Passes

It was with great sadness that I read the news about the untimely passing of Keith Elam, better known to most of his fans as Guru.  Guru (an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) was the emcee half of Gang Starr, one of my favourite rap duos and true legends of the genre.  As opposed to many contemporary and current rappers, Guru never glorified the gangster life or the pursuit of empty materialism.  His songs weren’t about champagne, luxury yachts or the objectification of women.  There was always a message delivered in his rhymes, often addressed to the  urban youth, and usually centered around self-improvement rather than self-destruction.  Even after he was arrested on a gun possession charge, he turned his experience into a lesson; in the song Moment of Truth he rhymes about owning your own behaviour and bravely facing the consequences of your actions and the decisions you make.   His nearly monotone delivery was unique, distinctive and put the emphasis squarely on the message being delivered.

I was introduced to Gang Starr in the late 90’s by my friend Ernesto.  Guru and DJ Premier provided a good chunk of the soundtrack whenever Nesto and I hung out.  At some point in the evening, invariably, we’d be bobbing our heads and rhyming along to tracks like You Know my Steez, Moment of Truth, Work, and many others.  Whenever I hear Guru’s voice, I am carried back to evenings at John Adams dormitory at Umass or lazy weekends at Nesto’s crib in Leominster.  Guru left his mark on the world of rap, as well as the world of Mike.  I, along with all of his fans, will miss him dearly.  I know we all hope that despite whatever physical pain he may have faced in the last year of his life, he is in peace now.

Actions have reactions, don’t be quick to judge
You may not know the hardships people don’t speak of
It’s best to step back, and observe with couth
For we all must meet our moment of truth

~ by schlippo on April 20, 2010.

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