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Keith “Guru” Elam of Gang Starr, Dead at 43

April 20, 2010

Legendary hip-hop icon Guru left this earth yesterday April 19, 2010. He had been discreetly battling cancer for over a year and eventually succumbed to the disease after waking up from a coma.

With the legendary DJ Premier, in their group Gang Starr, he established himself as one of hip-hops most endearing and lovable MCs.

However, Guru’s story is not without drama.

Upon his death an alleged “farewell” letter was released by Guru’s partner and work colleague Solar. It stated:

I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.

I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody’s feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.

I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.

Fans, friends, and bloggers were very skeptical of the letter and suggested that it was written by Solar instead.

Solar responded to criticism on his twitter stating, “Guru made this statement from his own mouth and anybody saying different is insane with hate!”

In an interview with MTV News he stated:

In some ways, I’ve been prepared for this. We got the news that it was terminal at the beginning of the year, that the cancer wasn’t turning around. So we knew. He died yesterday. We both had hoped he would beat it. It was a very inspirational, inspiring fight we fought. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Guru knew this time would come. The great artist he is, us being intelligent people, we knew there was going to have to be a statement relating to this. Unfortunately, there are those who have the wicked agenda, and just can’t accept that Guru and I have handled this thing as men and not children, and this is how men of honor handle their business. He arranged his press release. I’m the repository of Guru’s life story. I recorded his life story for book and for movies. We’re not foolish. He was diagnosed with cancer well over a year ago. It’s been operations and so forth. It would be ridiculous for him to not be prepared.

Guru’s nephew, Justin Nicholas Elam-Ruff, was vocal about the issue on Youtube and expressed that Solar prevented family from getting close to Guru.

He posted this on March 3, 2010 when Guru was still in a coma.

Supposedly, there is speculation that Guru and Solar had a romantic relationship, especially due to the possessiveness that Solar have over Guru and his contempt for his family. Guru himself had distanced himself from some family even before he got sick. Speculation is that maybe they didn’t approve of his “lifestyle.” But even if this was to be true, Guru was known to fans and friends as a heterosexual and he would had to been on the downlow.

On March 8, 2010, Justin elaborated on the feud in two more youtube videos:

*Note: Rumors surrounding Guru’s sexual orientation are unconfirmed. The Swag Express do not wish to slander him in death or life. Guru is much loved and will very much be missed. Look at the evidence placed before you and decide for yourself. Nevertheless, whatever information surfaces in the near future, he will always be a hip-hop icon.

Rest In Peace.

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