Remembering Gang Starr's Guru, One Year Later
Honoring The Life And Legacy Of Legendary Gang Starr MC Keith ‘Guru’ Elam
Keith Elam, known to the world as Guru passed away one year ago today after complications following a cardiac arrest.
Keithy E the Guru, born in Boston founded Gang Starr in 1987 featuring production by DJ Mark the 45 King. After mild success, the group’s lineup was cut down to include Elam and beatmaker, DJ Premier.
In 1989, their No More Mr. Nice Guy LP received critical acclaim and a following. Two years later, the release of Step In The Arena solidified them as heavyweights as Primo’s beats were praised and fans admired Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal’s monotone flow.
That delivery, albeit void of emotion, was still expressive on records like “Just To Get A Rep,” “Mass Appeal,” “Take It Personal” and “Lovesick” cementing him as a force in hip-hop.
Gang Starr opened the door for Primo’s music to become legendary while they introduced rappers like Jeru The Damaja, Group Home and Guru himself began his solo career.
Guru released four albums while still a member of the group, the series was called Jazzmatazz and it featured artists and musicians ranging from Donald Byrd, Chaka Khan, Jamiroquai and Roy Ayers.
“Back around ’93—when I first came up with the Jazzmatazz concept—I was noticing how a lot of cats were digging in the crates and sampling jazz breaks to make hip hop records.
I wanted to take it to the next level and actually create a new genre by getting the actual dudes we were sampling into the studio to jam over hip hop beats with some of the top voclaists of the time. You know, the whole thing was experimental, but I knew it was an idea that would spawn some historic music,” said Guru.
Although MC Solar created a stir near the time of Elam’s passing with controversial messages with negativity toward Primo allegedly from Keith himself, the music and influence of Gang Starr can not be denied.
Keith Elam’s voice was golden, he allowed his words and enunciation to do the task of resonating his message. Since standing at the podium in Gang Starr’s “Manifest” video in 1989, there was no doubt he was going to leave a stain on hip-hop.
He will always be remembered for his contributions to an industry that patterned a sound after what he and DJ Premier did over two decades ago. Keith Elam was survived by his parents, three siblings, and a son named Keith Casim.