Two Years After his Death, GURU of Gang Starr's Legacy Lives On

Posted by Billyjam, April 19, 2012 10:39am | Post a Comment

Gang Starr "Code of The Streets" (from
Hard To Earn, 1994)

It was on this date exactly two years ago (April 19, 2010) that hip-hop icon, emcee GURU of hip-hop golden era legendary duo Gang Starr (with DJ Premier) died succumbing to a year long battle with cancer combined with a serious heart attack from a month earlier.  The name of the super-gifted and highly influential MC, born Keith Elam and who was only 43 when he passed in April 2010, appropriately stood for "Gifts Unlimited Rhymes Universal" which perfectly summed up the artist. GURU will always be remembered most for his Gang Starr recordings. Yes he did a lot of other work with artists over the years including the ambitious Jazzmatazz series with Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers and Ronny Jordan but it is his Gang Starr recordings/catalog that will forever remain in the hearts & heads of music fans and the general hip-hop consciousness.

There have been, over the years, countless club nights whose names have been taken directly from GURU lyrics, and/or Gang Starr song/album titles. Dave Paul of BOMB Hip Hop once had a party called Step In The Arena. Additionally GURU's fondness for confrontational, battle style lyrics were tailor-made for DJs to utilize in battle scenarios. As UK DJ/producer Pete Sasqwax so accurately noted today on this sad anniversary, "So many quotables & without him, how different DJ battles would've been over the years. I believe there was a significant period of time whereby it was mandatory to use a Guru dis in your DMC [DJ battle] routine otherwise you would automatically fail to progress." Above and below are videos to some of my personal all time fave Gang Starr cuts. Rest in peace GURU - your music keeps you alive forever!

Gang Starr "Mass Appeal" (from 1994's Hard To Earn)

Gang Starr "Just to Get A Rep" (from Step in The Arena, 1991 & also found on the
2006 collection Mass Appeal: Best of Gang Starr)

Gang Starr "Manifest" (from No More Mr Nice Guy, 1991
& also found on the
2006 collection Mass Appeal: Best of Gang Starr)

Gang Starr "Dwyck (feat. Nice N Smooth)"(12" b-side from 1992 but also found on 1994's
Hard To Earn as well as on both 1999's Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr 

Mass Appeal: Best of Gang Starr)

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Pete Sasqwax (1), Rap (134), Hip-hop (217), Djs (8), Gang Starr (20), Guru (10), Dmc Battle (3), Dave Paul (17), Dj Premier (19)