|Birth name||Keith Edward Elam|
July 17, 1961|
Roxbury, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||April 19, 2010
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Hip hop, jazz rap|
|Occupations||Rapper, producer, actor|
|Labels||Wild Pitch/EMI Records (1987–1990)
Chrysalis/EMI Records (1990–1995)
Virgin/EMI Records (1995–2003)
Ill Kid Records (1995–2005)
7 Grand (2003–2010)
|Associated acts||DJ Premier, Gang Starr, Nujabes, Gang Starr Foundation, Krumbsnatcha, Jeru the Damaja, Group Home, M.O.P.|
Keith Edward Elam (July 17, 1961 – April 19, 2010), better known by his stage name Guru, was an American rapper, producer and actor. He was a member of the hip-hop duo Gang Starr, along with DJ Premier. He was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The name Guru is a backronym that stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal and the less-often used God is Universal; he is the Ruler Universal, which are both references to the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths. He was also known for lending his voice for 8-Ball in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.
About.com placed him on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time, while The Source ranked him #30 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time, saying "Guru dropped some of the most thoughtful rhymes on wax."
Elam was born in the Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood of Roxbury, Massachusetts. His father, Harry, was a judge and his mother, Barbara, was the co-director of libraries in the Boston public school system. He attended the Advent School on Beacon Hill in Boston, Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts, and Cohasset High School in Cohasset, Massachusetts for high school. Elam graduated with a degree in business administration from Morehouse College in Atlanta and took graduate classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. He later dropped out to pursue a hip hop career. Elam worked briefly in social services.
Elam began his rap career under the pseudonym MC Keithy E but later changed name to Guru. He founded Gang Starr in 1987. The group initially released three records, produced by DJ Mark the 45 King, on the Wild Pitch Records record label, but these records received little attention. After a change in line-up, the group consisted of rapper Elam and beat maker DJ Premier. Gang Starr released its first LP No More Mr. Nice Guy on Wild Pitch Records; the group achieved a sizable following and released six critically acclaimed and influential albums from 1989 to 2003. Two albums, Moment of Truth (1998) and compilation Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr (1999) were certified gold in the United States by the RIAA. Gang Starr made archetypal East Coast hip hop with Guru's rhyming described as sharp-eyed but anti-ostentatious.
In 1993, Guru released the first in a series of four solo albums while still a member of Gang Starr. Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 featured collaborations with Donald Byrd, N'Dea Davenport, MC Solaar, and Roy Ayers and received positive reviews. His second solo LP, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality, featured Chaka Khan, Ramsey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, and Jamiroquai. The third installment was released in 2000, but it received less positive reviews.
In 1994, Guru appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as the album of the year by Time Magazine.
In reference to the above mentioned Jazzmatazz project, Elam told Pete Lewis of Blues & Soul: "Back around ’93—when I first came up with the Jazzmatazz concept—I was noticing how a lot of cats were digging in the crates and sampling jazz breaks to make hip hop records. But while I thought that was cool, I wanted to take it to the next level and actually create a new genre by getting the actual dudes we were sampling into the studio to jam over hip hop beats with some of the top vocalists of the time. You know, the whole thing was experimental, but I knew it was an idea that would spawn some historic music."
Elam's first solo album not a part the Jazzmatazz series, Baldhead Slick & da Click, was released in 2001 to poor reviews. The album reached #22 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop album charts. The seventh chapter in the book of Guru, Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures, was released in 2005 on Elam's own record label, 7 Grand Records. The album was produced entirely by labelmate Solar. It reached #54 on the Billboard R&B albums charts and received mixed reviews.
Elam's final releases were the fourth installment in the Jazzmatazz series, released in June 2007; and Guru 8.0: Lost And Found, released May 19, 2009 (also in collaboration with Solar). A Gang Starr reunion album was planned but will never be released because of Guru's death.
On February 28, 2010, Elam went into cardiac arrest and, following surgery, fell into a coma. It was claimed that Guru had briefly awakened from his coma but died on April 19, 2010, at the age of 48, from cancer. Keith Elam (Guru) was survived by his parents, three siblings, and a son named Keith Casim. His production partner, Solar, claimed that Elam had momentarily awakened from his coma to compose a letter to the public, although DJ Premier and members of the emcee's family stated that he never regained consciousness. Elam's family claimed that Solar had prevented them from having contact with Elam during his illness just before his death. The validity of the death-bed letter was challenged by Guru's family. In an interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio, Solar claimed that he was protective of Elam, and everything he had said was true. This interview was met by extreme emotion from the hip hop community and did little to clear the controversy surrounding his actions.
DJ Premier produced a tribute mix to Elam and has released a public letter along with Elam's sister Patricia Elam. Harry J. Elam, an older brother, wrote a personal memoir in remembrance published in The Boston Globe on April 23, 2010. The Elam family had a Guru Tribute Web Site set up where visitors were able to view tributes and sign a memorial page. Guru's nephew Justin Nicholas-Elam Ruff made a 16-minute documentary in which he narrated the story of his late uncle. The video can be seen at DJPremierBlog.com, http://www.gurutributes.com, and http://thexlabel.wordpress.com/.
At the 2011 Grammy Awards, Guru's name was not mentioned in the annual retrospective of musicians who had died since the 2010 awards. On April 21, 2011, Revive Da Live Big Band held a tribute show for Elam at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. The show paid homage to Guru's Jazzmatazz series and featured a full jazz band tribute, with all proceeds going towards the Elam family. During the concert, Babygrande Records donated $5000 to Guru's son, K.C. Elam.
- Gang Starr albums are listed in the group's main article.
||This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (March 2011)|
|Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
|Guru Presents Ill Kid Records
|Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality
|Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
|Baldhead Slick & da Click
|Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures
|Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future
|The Timebomb: Back To The Future Mixtape
|The Best of Guru's Jazzmatazz
|Guru 8.0: Lost and Found
- 1990: "Jazz Thing" (from the soundtrack of Mo' Better Blues)
- 1991: "Down the Line" (from the Nice & Smooth album Ain't a Damn Thing Changed)
- 1991: "Qui Semé Le Vent Recolte Le Tempo (Gang Starr Remix)" (from an MC Solaar 12" single)
- 1992: "A Buncha Niggas" (from the Heavy D & The Boyz album Blue Funk, also featuring Biggie Smalls, Busta Rhymes, Rob-O, Third Eye)
- 1992: "It's Getting Hectic" (from the Brand New Heavies album Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1)
- 1992: "Sassy (from the Neneh Cherry album "Homebrew")
- 1993: "Why Cant Lovers" (from Lisa Lisa singleSkip To My Lu)
- 1993: "Patti Dooke" (from De La Soul album Buhloone Mindstate)
- 1993: "Season For Change" (from the Ronny Jordan album The Quiet Revolution)
- 1993: "Listen (Guru Remix)" (from a Urban Species 12" single)
- 1993: "Stop Lookin' at Me" (In collaboration with The Cutthroats from the soundtrack of Menace II Society)
- 1994: "Why Cant Lovers" (from Lisa Lisa album LL77)
- 1994: "Borough Check" (from the Digable Planets album Blowout Comb)
- 1994: "I've Lost My Ignorance" (from the Dream Warriors album Subliminal Simulation)
- 1994: "Black Monday" (from the Buckshot LeFonque single "Another Day")
- 1995: "B-Boy Mastermind" (from the DJ Krush album Krush) – This appears on the Japanese import only.
- 1995: "Serious Rap Shit" (from the Group Home album Livin' Proof)
- 1996: "Fed Up (Remix)" (from House of Pain album Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again)
- 1996: "Listen Here" (from The New Groove: The Blue Note Remix Project)
- 1997: "The Way it Iz" (from Rhyme & Reason (soundtrack))
- 1997: "For Da Love" (from Afu-Ra and EZD unofficial release "A D&D Project In Association With DJ Premier Vol. 1")
- 1998: "Salute part II" (from the M.O.P. album First Family 4 Life)
- 1998: "Trilogy Of Terror" (from the Afu-Ra 12 "Whirlwind Thru Cities")
- 1999: "NY Niggaz" (from the Sway & King Tech album This or That)
- 1999: "The Legacy" (from the Group Home album A Tear for the Ghetto)
- 1999: "Bare Witness" (from the Choclair album Ice Cold)
- 1999: "Whatever Happened to Gus" (Word to the Drums mix) (from the Medeski Martin & Wood album Combustication Remix EP)
- 2000: "Games" (from the Big L album "The Big Picture, also featuring Sadat X
- 2001: "Hot Shit" (from a D&D All Stars 12" single, also featuring Big Daddy Kane, Sadat X, and Greg Nice)
- 2001: "Worst Comes to Worst" (from the Dilated Peoples album Expansion Team)
- 2002: "Blvd." (from the Afu-Ra album Life Force Radio
- 2002: "Karma" (from the Adam F 12" single also featuring Carl Thomas)
- 2003: "Weed Scented" (from the A.G. album The Dirty Version)
- 2003: "Condor (Espionage)" (from the DJ Cam album Soulshine)
- 2003: "Knowledge of Self" (from the BT album Emotional Technology)
- 2004: "The Best" (from the Chief Kamachi album Cult Status)
- 2004: "Αυτή τη ζωή (This Life)" (from the Goin' Through album La Sagrada Familia)
- 2004: "Home" (from the Kreators album "Live Coverage", also featuring Akrobatik, Big Shug, Ed O.G., Krumbsnatcha)
- 2005: "Party Hard" (from the The Perceptionists album Black Dialogue feat. Camu Tao & Prod. Camu Tao)
- 2005: "Counter Punch", "Gangsta Luv" (from the Big Shug album Never Say Die)
- 2006: "Junk" (from the Ferry Corsten album L.E.F.)
- 2007: "Major Game" (from the Domingo album The Most Underrated)
- 2007: "The Otherside" (from the Slightly Stoopid album "Chronchitis")
- 2008: "Watucamehere 4" (from the Downsyde album All City)
- 2010: "You Got To Luv It" (from the Cradle Orchestra album Transcended Elements)
- Main Source music video "Watch Roger Do His Thing" (1990) (Cameo)
- Who's the Man? (1993) as Martin Lorenzo
- The Substitute 2: School's Out (1998) as Little B.
- Train Ride (2000) as Jay
- Grand Theft Auto III (2001) as 8-Ball
- 3 A.M. (2001) as Hook-Off
- Urban Massacre (2002) as Cereal Killah
- Kung Faux (2003) as Voice Over/Various
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005) as 8-Ball
- DJ Premier. “Register For The Legendary Guru” (April 20, 2010). DJ Premier Blog. Retrieved from  on April 20, 2010.
- Gang Starr rapper Guru dies at 48, CBS News. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- Other reliable sources, such as Gang Starr Biography at Allmusic.com and MTV, indicate that he was born in 1961.
- "Top 50 MCs of Our Time: 1987 - 2007 - 50 Greatest Emcees of Our Time". Rap.about.com. 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Caramanica, Jon (March 3, 2010). "Gang Starr legend GURU out of coma, issues press release". Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- Cartwright, Garth (April 21, 2006). "Guru obituary". London: Guardian. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- "Discography—the Official 45 King Web Site". Retrieved June 27, 2010.
- "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 > Overview". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3 > Overview". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- Guru & Solar interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' May 2009
- "Baldhead Slick & da Click. Overview". allmusic.com. Retrieved June 27, 2010.
- "Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures > Overview". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- "Official Statement From Dj Premier on the Death of Keith Elam… Guru « In Memory Of Kenneth Walker". Livefromheadqcourterz.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "UPDATE: Guru Surgery Successful; Full Recovery Expected". Allhiphop.com. March 2, 2010.
- "Gang Starr's Guru Goes Into Cardiac Arrest, in a Coma | Get the Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News, and Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- Faraone, Chris (3 March 2010). “Hip-hop Legend [the] Guru out of Coma, Issues Press Release. The Boston Phoenix
- "Gang Starr’s Guru Dies of Cancer". Exclaim.ca. April 20, 2010. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
- "Gang Starr Guru wakes from coma". Voice Online. 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- Kaufman, Gil (2010-04-21). "Guru's Family Releases Statement About His Death". MTV. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- "Gang Starr's Guru dies of cancer | News". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Gang Starr rapper Guru's Family Questions Death-Bed Letter | News". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- Solar in his last intimate interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio
- "The Only Fan Site Approved by DJ Premier » Blog Archive » Keith “Guru” Elam Tribute Mix by DJ Premier". DJ Premier Blog. 2010-04-24. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "The Only Fansite Approved by DJ Premier » Blog Archive » Official Statement From DJ Premier On The Passing Of Guru". DJ Premier Blog. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "The Only Fan Site Approved by DJ Premier » Blog Archive » Public Letter From Guru’s Sister Patricia". DJ Premier Blog. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Harry J. Elam Jr. - Remembering My Brother, Guru". boston.com. April 23, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- "Guru Tributes - Official Tribute site hosted by Elam family". gurutributes.com. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- "Guru Tribute By His Nephew Justin Nicholas-Elam Ruff". gurutributes.com. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- "G.U.R.U. Tribute At LPR, 4/21". Revivalist Music. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Babygrande Records Remembers Keith "Guru" Elam With Donation To His Son". Babygrande Records. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "In Memory of Keith Elam aka Guru". Rockstar Games. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Guru.|
- Guru memorial site hosted by Elam family
- Guru on Myspace
- Guru at MTV
- Official Guru's Jazzmatazz site
- Official Guru's Guru7grand site