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Few of you that are now reading this know that around the same time I’d originally decided to go back into having a personal blog (which later became Bastard Swordsman) the news came down that Guru was in a coma and his life was hanging in the balance. I was in complete shock.

I’m an oldhead that remembers Mike Dee & Keithy E leaving for New York in order to get Gang Starr Posse a deal and how Boston wasn’t even getting acknowledged by New York (even though Bostonians had already made significant contributions to the culture) at the time. I had to post something about it. It really affected me personally. Guru was in the hospital in a coma and not only was his immediate family late to find out, but his lifelong friends in Boston were also frantically calling around trying to see if it was a rumor or not.

“How could Keith be that sick and we all heard nothing from anyone when we’re the ones that knew him first?.” I got those kind of phone calls left and right. I felt completely powerless. I ended up doing the one thing I knew how to do, write. I hit Twitter, WordPress & Tumblr writing about the influence one action had on an entire city and the influence one man ultimately had on worldwide Hip-Hop culture. It’s like KRS One said, “You must learn!”

About a month later, speculation had run wild about exactly what had befallen Guru and the role Solar played in it all. Not too long afterwards, Guru passed away. It instantly hit me, “What would my life been like had he and Mike Dee never gone to New York?” “What if those first Gang Starr 12”s on Wild Pitch had never dropped?” “What if Guru never met DJ Premier and made No More Mr. Nice Guy? How would that have affected not just Boston Hip-Hop history but Hip-Hop history as a whole? Would I even be typing away at this keyboard right now if not for Guru and Gang Starr? I highly doubt that. 

“Guru and DJ Premier crafted the sound that came to define East New York. A dude from Boston & another one from Houston did that.”


I’m conscious of Guru’s influence on me how about his influence on the other Bostonians who dreamed of achieving fame in New York? Now Boston has completely infiltrated New York Hip-Hop to the point they don’t even realize how many of us are currently there now. Whether it be in Hip-Hop (both print & digital) journalism, radio, production, emceeing, business or management. Check around if you think I’m exaggerating. For example take Geespin (Power 105), Sean C (Grind Music), Statik Selektah, Termanology, DJ Madsol-Desar, Maya The B, TeLisa D, Dory Greenberg, J The S, DJ Synapse, Touré, Chairman Jefferson Mao, The Source and Clockwork Music. Even New York City’s mayor is from Boston!

It all started with one dude who was willing to crash on couches, eat sparingly & work menial day jobs just to be where he had to be to make his dreams come true and put his city on one day. Even though the beginnings of Gang Starr and Gang Starr Foundation all started in Boston more than 25 years ago, now their membership and influence is worldwide. All of these things were made possible by a man named Keith Elam.

We all know Guru as the MC half of Gang Starr. We all remember the timbre of his voice. He was also an accomplished producer. He had an eye for talent. He advocated for Lord Finesse to get signed to Wild Pitch after hearing his demo (which he took it upon himself to do). He discovered and signed Bahamadia. He and DJ Premier crafted the sound that came to define East New York. A dude from Boston and another one from Houston did that. The highly influential Jazzmatazz series was his brainchild and he was the original producer behind the first three Jazzmatazz albums. He and DJ Premier reached out to many members of the GangStarr Foundation directly. Jeru Tha Damaja once told me flat out, “Guru saved my life.”

“We must make an effort to focus on the true essence of Hip-Hop and aspire to inspire others through advocating quality music. Music like Guru made.”

We all know he wrote and spit classic bars. You know he produced and penned both underground classics and radio hits. We know he helped to discover and put on numerous people we regard as legends today. I also know that even as a kid when I heard him big up Brooklyn that Boston, his home could never leave his heart. In his memory (and the memories of all the Hip-Hop legends that passed away) we must make an effort to focus on the true essence of Hip-Hop and aspire to inspire others through advocating quality music. Music like Guru made and cosigned himself throughout his career.

If you don’t like it? Then take it personal © Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal


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