I took an extended Easter long weekend last week, and so this post isn’t as timely as it should be, but the first anniversary of Guru’s death isn’t going to pass with an OSM dedicated to Keith Elam. At the risk of turning this post into a clipshow-style one, I’ll refer to last year’s Guru post:
This is a tough one. Considering its relatively short history, hip hop has lost more than its fair share of luminaries well before their time should’ve been up. But seeing Guru pass at 43, that really hits home for me. Quite simply, I love Gang Starr.
Nothing’s changed, I still love Guru and Gang Starr, and Guru’s death is still tremendously sad. Think about it, of all the MC/DJ combos from the golden age of the late 80’s and early 90’s, is there a duo that would be more likely to still be putting out relevant music right now? I know Guru and Premo were having some issues anyway in the time leading up to Guru’s death (thanks in part, it seems, to Guru’s weird Svengali/producer dude Solar), but Gang Starr made that timeless hip hop that people are still trying to emulate in 2011.
But at least we have Guru’s deep catalogue of music to reflect on, and not only all those Gang Starr classics, but his work with the Jazzmatazz series – a concept that likely wouldn’t wow people these days, but was almost revolutionary in ’93. Live band/production hip hop was taken about as seriously as white rappers in ’93, so to have an established MC not only go that route, but to do so with Jazz, was kind of gutsy. He did have some of the best of the best helping him, like Lonnie Liston Smith, Branford Marsalis, Ronny Jordan, Donald Byrd and Roy Ayers, but, in an ironic twist, he also had french rapper MC Solaar join him on a track, which was also gutsy. Like Gang Starr, the Jazzmatazz stuff still sounds fresh today, and makes me think that today’s hip hop could certainly use the passion and ingenuity of Guru in his prime.
R.I.P. MC Keithy E
MP3:: Guru – Loungin’
MP3:: Guru – Trust Me
MP3:: Gang Starr – Jazz Music
VIDEO:: Gang Starr – Who’s Gonna Take the Weight