On April 19th in 2010, Keith Elam, better known as Guru – which stands for Gifted, Unlimited, Rhymes, Universal – transitioned into the spiritual essence after losing his battle with cancer.
10 years after his death, we still celebrate one of the lyrically-gifted pioneers of Hip-Hop culture and the mouthpiece of one of the craft’s legendary and impactful groups. It’s amazing to think that if he was alive he turns 59 years old today.
It blows my mind that young people listening to Hip Hop today have no idea about his impact and artistry, Gang Starr, the Jazzmatazz projects and his incomparable creative brotherhood with DJ Premier. The brother from Boston dropped some of the most thoughtful compositions that the genre was blessed to consume. Whenever I start talking about my favorite emcees that most gloss over and sleep on, Guru is at the top of that list.
So as we take a minute to pay homage to the brother that left us with so many gifts, we offer you our playlist of what’s shaking the walls today in The Shadow League offices. If you call yourself a fan of this musical, cultural and spiritual movement that now dominates American pop culture, you need to go back digging in the crates with us to appreciate this full clip of twelve Guru essentials.
“You’re paranoid cause you’re a son like Elroy, and you’d be happy as hell to get a record deal, maybe your soul you’d sell to have mass appeal…”
“Heed the words, it’s like ghetto style proverbs! The righteous pay a sacrifice to get what they deserve. Cannot afford to be confined to a cell, brainwaves swell, turnin’ a desert to a well.”
“You’re in the Terror-dome like my man Chuck D said, It’s time to dethrone you clones, and all you knuckleheads. Cause MC’s have used up extended warranties, while real MC’s and DJ’s are a minority. But right about now, I use my authority, cause I’m like the Wizard and you look lost like Dorothy!”
“After that, Five-Oh came and turned the party out, and then the ambulance came to take the body out. And we didn’t even get all the equipment out and we didn’t even get to turn the place out…”
“Sometimes you gotta dig deep, when problems come near, don’t fear, things get severe for everybody everywhere. Why do bad things happen, to good people? Seems that life is just a constant war between good and evil. The situation that I’m facin’, is mad amazin’, to think such problems can arise from minor confrontations. Now I’m contemplatin’ in my bedroom pacin’, dark clouds over my head, my heart’s racin’.
Suicide? Nah, I’m not a foolish guy, don’t even feel like drinking, or even gettin’ high, cause all that’s gonna do really, is accelerate, the anxieties that I wish I could alleviate. But wait. I’ve been through a whole lot of other shit before, so I oughta be able, to withstand some more…
“I’ll splatter your dreams with lyrics to shatter your schemes!”
“I’ve never been a stranger to struggle, gotta maintain my hustle.”
“This world’s a twisted maze, but I got the swiftest blades, my swords they can slice and dice in precise ways.”
“Major effect to your sector, I’m the corrector, live and direct, waving my mic like a scepter. Supreme exalted, universal leader, descendant of the kings and queens, the overseer. The overlord, cream of the crop, creme de la creme, spent years buildin’ with cats in the streets, so they my men. Again! Gang Starr has done it, remember too much jewels back in the days? You’d have to run it.”
“Blockbustin’, like makin’ love, I’ll never stop thrustin’, into your system, so just listen. I’m like a neurosurgeon, operatin’ wit’ a purer version.”
And he’s still inspiring hits today.
Happy Birthday, Guru. Your words are still manifesting on this new hip hop planet.