Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guru (1961-2010)

Guru (1966-2010)"Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is/I get more props and stunts than Bruce Willis."
--Guru, "Dwyck"

The Gang Starr MC with the love-it-or-hate-it monotone delivery and a preference for "an alternative to James Brown samples" has died way too young from cancer. Guru's star-studded Jazzmatazz albums were among my favorite CDs during my university years--I remember trying to finish writing a term paper or two to the sounds of Volume II: The New Reality. Jazzmatazz introduced my ears to cats like Donald Byrd and Roy Ayers, who performed alongside the Brooklyn rapper, an admirer of their jazz albums since his childhood in Boston.

Together with DJ Premier, Guru (birth name: Keith Elam) recorded such hip-hop classics as "Manifest," "Just to Get a Rep," "Take It Personal," "Mass Appeal" and my favorite Gang Starr track, "Dwyck," an endlessly quotable collabo with Nice & Smooth ("I left my Philly at home/Do you have another?/I wanna get blunted, my brother").

Gang Starr's sole original contribution to movie soundtracks was the Mo' Better Blues end title theme "Jazz Thing."

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