Tue 20 Apr 2010
The news broke that after a long battle with cancer, Keith Elam aka Guru from the group GangStarr, passed away on Monday at the age of 43. Just Blaze tweeted this overlooked album cut about lost loved ones, “In Memory Of,” from Guru and DJ Premier’s incredible Moment of Truth album from 1998.
Sadly, even the news of Guru’s death is sullied by the divisive nature of his alleged final statement….And while I’m kind of shocked that some reputable news sources just included the statement without any reference to the debate about the statement’s legitimacy….
you can read it for yourself, after the jump…
UPDATE: Also after the jump….Solar responds via twitter, and Capone-n-Noreaga record a freestyle tribute…
Guru has been hospitalized since early March, but ever since his condition worsened and his health issues became public, there’s been an uncomfortable series of press releases, youtube pleas, and rumors from opposing sides of Guru’s personal circle. There was his business partner and best friend, Solar, who even gained “power of attorney” for Guru. And then there were Guru’s relatives, who mounted a campaign to protest Solar’s control over Guru’s affairs. As for fans, they were left with little solid information about Guru’s condition…
In the press release announcing Guru’s passing, Solar uses dramatic wording but very little detail about cause of death, with phrases like: “malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed.” But what kind of cancer was this? Especially since it caused, reportedly, both cardiac arrest and a coma? And the coma is key concern to many Guru friends because it is unclear if Guru ever came out of his medically-induced coma. Meanwhile, in Solar’s statement, he says “Guru prepared this letter while he was in the hospital for the fans…”:
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. (source)
Hopefully, the simple truth of whether or not Guru was ever physically and mentally capable of writing this letter will come to light. If he was able to write the letter, then we all have to accept that his last wishes were to claim that he was the “sole founder” and denounce the shared legacy of Guru and Premier. If he was not able to write or even dictate this letter, then by even including the words “I, Guru, am writing this letter…”, Solar is doing his best friend a terrible disservice all in the effort to push a future agenda. The unanswered questions will taint all of the “events, tributes” and “awards” that the letter makes such a point of preparing for.
UPDATE 1: Solar addressed the rampant speculation about the letter, on twitter.
**According to Villanova University, there is an “each one counts” foundation that was founded by former Villanova basketball player Brian Harrington and assistant basketball coach Doug West to help chronically or terminally ill children. I’m not sure if this is the same non-profit that the alleged Guru letter refers to.
On a personal note, when I think of Guru, the legacy I’m most attached to is Gangstarr, with DJ Premier, and these songs….