Today (July 17), is the late Keith “Guru” Elam’s birthday. Rest In Power.
I’m old enough to remember back when Mike Dee & Keithy E left for New York in order to eventually land Gang Starr Posse a deal with K-Tel/Wild Pitch Records in 1987. Back then Boston’s Hip-Hop and Rap music wasn’t being acknowledged by New York City even though Bostonians had already made significant contributions to the culture of Hip-Hop and it didn’t look like that was going to change anytime in the near future.
Boston was the second city after New York to feature an all Rap radio show. Many of the seminal, groundbreaking Rap songs played at the time were actually produced by Bostonians such as Arthur Baker, Michael Jonzun and Maurice Starr. Due to the fact no one paid attention to producers, only the artists back then Boston remained overlooked in regards to Hip-Hop.
What would Boston Hip-Hop be like today had Guru and Mike Dee never gone to New York? What if those first Gang Starr Posse 12”s on Wild Pitch had never dropped? What if Guru never met DJ Premier (or Waxmaster C as he was known then) and made No More Mr. Nice Guy? How would that have affected not only Boston Hip-Hop history but Hip-Hop history as a whole? Not only would this piece never be written but I never would have become a Hip-Hop journalist.
I’m extremely conscious of Guru’s influence on me but let’s examine his influence on the other Bostonians who dreamed of scratching out a career and eventually achieving fame in New York. Boston has completely infiltrated New York Hip-Hop to the point few even realize how many of them are currently there now in regards to Hip-Hop (both print & digital) journalism, radio, production, emceeing, or business management.
For example, take Geespin (Power 105), Sean C (Grind Music), Cherry Martinez (Power 105), Statik Selektah (ShowOff Radio), DJ Madsol-Desar, Dawaun Parker, Che Vicious (G.O.O.D. Music), Maya The B, J The S, DJ Synapse, Touré, Chairman Jefferson Mao, The Source and the crew from Clockwork Music. Even New York City’s mayor is from Boston now.
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