Guru, hip hop mastermind and lyrically conscious frontman for the seminal 90’s underground group Gangstarr, has officially passed away at age 43.
Best remembered for his smooth, relaxed, conscious rhyme style, he partnered with the legendary DJ Premier to form an unparalleled duo, helping define Real Hip Hop, a necessity during hip hop’s dark age (mid-90’s, Puffy vs. West Coast ‘gangsta’).
Ever since they would Step In the Arena in 1991, they defined the underground sound. Albums such as Hard to Earn and Daily Operation – while not always commercially successful – were mellifluous elixir for the headz that yearned to escape from the typical “bitches, hoes, 40’s & blunts” sound that dominated the airwaves.
During this period, Guru’s vision expanded to the true roots of Hip Hop with his revolutionary Jazzmatazz sequence of four albums featuring a wide specter of artists from Branford Marsalis to french lyricist MC Solaar to Donald Byrd to the Solsonics. He reunited with Guru for the introspective, evocative Moment of Truth in 1998, which showcased the duo’s wide range and consistent sound, providing a timeless stamp on their legacy.
It is sad news that Guru passed, but his battle with cancer and subsequent cardiac arrest/coma was too much to overcome. Guru will be missed, but his vocals, sensibilities and overall ‘hiphopness’ will be forever indelibly embedded in the hip hop ethos. Guru, enjoy your time Above the Clouds.