Guru Dies of Cancer

Legendary rapper Guru (born Keith Elam), 43, of seminal hip-hop duo Gang Starr, died on Monday (April 19) of cancer-related causes—about two months after undergoing surgery following a heart attack.

According to a press release issued by Solar—the Boston-bred MC’s longtime business partner, music collaborator and friend—Guru had been quietly suffering from cancer for a long period of time.

Before passing, Guru addressed his fans one last time in a letter provided by Solar. “I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world,” he wrote. “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.”

Guru first burst onto the New York rap scene with DJ Premier in the late 1980s. Together as Gang Starr, the group released six albums—1989’s No More Mr. Nice Guy, 1991’s Step into the Arena, 1992’s Daily Operation, 1994’s Hard to Earn, 1998’s Moment of Truth and 2003’s The Ownerz—and helped to create the underground East Coast hip-hop sound. Elam is also credited for being one of the first rappers to merge hip-hop and jazz with his Jazzmatazz series. Since going solo, Guru has gone on to release several discs of his own, including last May’s Guru 8.0: Lost and Found on the independent label 7 Grand.

“The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time—my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru,” Solar said in a statement. “Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.”

DJ Premier has yet to release an official statement. Stay tuned to XXLMag.com as more info emerges. —Elan Mancini

  • killa

    RIP GURU. LEGENDARY.

    • casper

      gangstarr is hip-hop!! preemo beats guru rhymes, legendary!! RIP GURU

  • http://xxlmag.com sam

    This is awful news, i was listening to the OWNERZ yesterday, which was only released a few years ago and GURU was as crisp as ever.

    A big loss, not just for hip hop but music as a whole.

    RIP

  • gangstarr4life

    RIP GURU. GANG STARR 4 EVVAAAA

  • Alton

    RIP Guru. You’ll be sadly missed! Hip Hop has lost one of only a few good and honest men :-(

    2brothers all the way from the UK!

  • KG

    R.I.P. Guru

    Hip hop icon and vital part of my hip hop life.

  • yeayeayea

    RIP GURU. FTR, fuck solar

  • http://XXLMAG.COM INTERNET BULLY

    DAMN HOMIE… RIP GURU… GANGSTARR 4EVA BUT ON THE REALS I HEARD THAT GURU AND PRIEMO WASNT TALKING FOR YEARS… I WISH THE COULDA HAD A CHANCE TO MAKE ONE MORE EFFORT FOR THE GANGSTARR FANS… PS I DONT LIKE THAT SUCKA SOLAR…

  • Sincere

    R.I.P. Guru hopefully you got to see your family before it was over.

  • Monsta32

    RIP Guru, one of the very best that ever di it!!!!

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  • http://www.cruziiie.com Cruziiie

    So sad! RIP

  • joe p

    wow man this is unreal … r.i.p guru

  • http://warstwy.com adone

    My favorite rapper:(

  • AZ40

    I woke up to this and this news has me a little discombobulated, I just can’t believe this as a fan not how I wanna start my day…R.I.P to a legend

  • John Cauner

    Rest In Peace Guru. Hip-Hop lost a important innovator of the culture. Sad day for all the fans that have been part of this musical ride known as Gangstarr.

  • 11KAP

    Big up the man! He kept hip hop true to the essence for years. R.I.P.

  • El Tico Loco

    Major loss R.I.P.

    Above the clouds where sounds are original infinite skills create miracles.

  • Mauritz

    Rest In Peace. This ruined my day. True genius. I’ll be playing “Moment of truth” for the next few days.

  • http://myspace.com/kidpistol Kid Pistol

    Dude. Are you serious? Whoa.

    This news does not match up with my cup of coffee at 9:27 am. All bad.

  • dlover

    wow that crazy r.i.p guru

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    R.I.P Guru Thanks for the Classics. Everybody go get little brother and support real hip hop. its not dead.

  • 11KAP

    smh…this is a major loss to the hip hop genre. Good thing we still have Dj Premiere and lil dap to carry on holding the torch. I wonder how’s Jeru the damaja. anyway, nuff respect everytime.

  • beaver

    damn…
    r.i.p guru

  • http://myspace.com/bigzhokgodallahiylallah BIG ZHOKGOD ALLAH IYLALLAH

    YOU INDEED, SHALL BE MISSED AS WELL AS MOURNED; FOR YOU HAVE BEEN SUCH A TREMENDOUS INFLUENCE AND SOURCE OF INSPIRATION TO I-n-I AND SO MANY AND TOO MANY OTHERS TO MENTION; REST IN PARADISE AND MAY YOUR RETURN TO THE ESSENCE BE MOST HEAVENLY AND PLEASANT… I LOVE YOU BROTHER!!!

  • Georgia Boy!

    I wish Hip Hop would give people their flowers while they can still smell them-ya under dig?

  • Georgia Boy!

    I wish Hip Hop would give people their flowers while they can still smell them-ya under dig???

  • Sha

    Man…. No doubt. Dude touched my life with his lessons. This is a huge loss for hip-hop. But what’s up with that bogus letter he “supposedly” left? Seems like Solaar is trying to cash in. That shit is totally suspect. No way any dude is gonna go to their grave on some “I still hate that nigga” shit. Solaar was bad for Guru. I hope he is exposed for what he is. I’m sure Preemo played his part. But death unites. Fuck Solaar!

  • wilecat

    4 all u RAPPERS out there overstand who this man was, what his group was and how its properly dun…HIP-HOP controls tha globe!!! Gangstarr and they 6 classic albums contains more education than any ISD. Emcees are 1000 times stronger than rappers. If you love Gucci, Plies, Jeezy, Wayne and cats like that, pick up tha Moment of Truth and see y ur style is madd weak!!!!

  • http://xxl All Dae

    R.I.P. Guru

    May the peace of God surround yr family. yr gone in body but not spirit. You’ve unknowingly gave me so much good music that kept me moving and loving hip hop. I can’t belive yr gone. I truly have been inspired musicly. u and DJ Premier gave me albums of classic. Thank You Harry-O aka Mistro aka All Dae

  • Freddy Vegas$

    Gangstar helped shape my life! I would not be the same person today if it wasnt for the words N wisdom of there beats & lyrics that captivated my soul.. May GURU Rest In Paradise he will forever be remembered..

    LEGENDS NEVER DIE

  • http://xxl All Dae

    Co-sign wilecat

    I not going to break shit down to bullet points but cop the albums go home listen study shit. Maybe one day we can be Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal….

    Gangstarrs catalog > Lil Waynes, Young Money, all souther rappers from 99 till now, D-block, Diddy, 95% of rappers living or dead catalog

    “yall niggas aint got a chance” Ghostface(Supreme Clientel)

  • oskamadison

    RIP, Guru. To anyone commenting below me: please, don’t even waste the energy commenting on that letter ghostwritten by “Lunar”. This is about Guru and what he (along with DJ Premier) gave to Hip-Hop. Condolences to his family, friends and those who truly loved him. Everybody with any Gang Starr joints in your collections, pull all them shits out and bang ‘em loud as hell.

  • Tony Tone

    Rest in peace guru…Hope you have a good show in heaven alonside pac,biggie Big L and all the greats that have passed away!!!All they way from finland R.I.P

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal. RIP my brother…….

  • S. Ga

    R.I.P. Guru

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    RIP Guru

  • http://XXLmag.com Jayhard

    R.I.P GURU…………………. I can’t believe he’s gone!!!!!!!!!! “Gangstarr has got to be the sureshot”

  • anutha_level

    damn…i’m speechless. RIP to one of the illest ever

  • OG Matt Herbz

    RIP

  • Aries Walsh

    Man… Guru died on my birthday. I guess this will be another fat to carry til the end of my days. For all fans of the god, do like I did and listen to “Keep Your Worries” featuring Angie Stone. RIP to not only a influential rapper to me, but also to a icon that made East Coast hip hop what it is.

  • hiphopzilla

    I can’t believe this Guru is dead listening 2 Gang Starr’s classic “In Memory Of…” right now since it’s the most appropriate song of the moment R.I.P.

  • 92FS

    Wow just heard. Sad news. R.I.P Guru.

  • Benita

    RIP Guru. Massachusetts loves you and always will. Blessed be your journey with the Most High. You were Hip Hop my brother, you were Hip Hop.

  • http://xxlmag.com yunggee

    i met dude in a mexican bar on my block.. he was cool as fuck.. when me n my dude seen him we bounced and went 2 get his hard 2 earn cd.. we told da dj (who was only playin spanish music) 2 throw it on.. when he heard dat he got up souped as hell… he gave us mad love cause dat.. i would never 4get dat… rip Guru

  • 0zgur

    R.I.P. Guru

    Neva Forget Ya…

  • TheRefriedMexican

    A LEGEND NEVER DIES. HE’S MOVED ON TO A BETTER PLACE. MUCH LOVE FROM CALI AND THE WHOLE WEST COAST. GOD BLESS
    +++
    ++
    +

  • PL

    R.I.P

    Respect from Poland [*]

  • fancyboy923

    R.I.P Guru…I’m gonna go listen to (The Anthem)…

  • capcobra

    r.i.p.

  • sean_izzle

    whoa im really chocked about this, the first thing i thought was that he was young, only 43 years old! he deserves his whole life and get old, imagine dying and not experiencing being old and look back at the long and good ol days that passed in front of a sunset, R.I.P. Guru true Hip-Hop artist. this is tragic cancer is a bitch, imagine the life you still have ahead of you when youre just 43 years old

  • brand-new

    wow…R.I.P. to a legend. my heart goes out to all family,freinds, and everyone involved in the gangstarr foundation. now pardon, i’m gonna go knock daily operation as if it just came out!

  • adrian smith birmingham england

    rip guru gang starr sad day 4 hip hop and gang starr fans worldwide and the hip hop world who loved gang starr music ful clip just to get arep c ya at tha crossroads guru r.i.p gang starr allday

  • P

    rip guru

  • Will

    RIP to a rap icon

  • DJ ALL DAY

    R.I.P. GURU NEW YORK WILL ALWAYS HOLD U DOWN AND AROUND THE WORLD….SO FUCKIN SAD WE LOSE YET ANOTHER LEGENDARY MC….ANYBODY WHO WANTS 2 B AN MC STUDY THIS MAN RIGHT HERE….ONCE AGAIN R.I.P. HOMIE I’LL SEE U AT THE CROSSROADZ…..AND BECAUSE ITS 4:20 EVERYONE 4 GURU LIGHT A FAT 1 UP…..100 ALLL DAY

  • George Clooney

    Solar, I hope you bleed out of your ass for your shady fuckery some day.

    RIP GiftedUnlimitedRhymesUniversal

  • General Yopeck

    Damn!!! tragically, Rest In Peace men, Rest in peace guru!!!

  • SuperNi**a

    R.I.P. Brother!

  • Axeo

    all that needs to be said is

    R.I.P
    you will be missed

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    R.I.P. Guru….damn, I was just listening to Hard To Earn yesterday morning on my way to class too! One of the true emcees that built the template of east coast hip hop. I need to collect the rest of the albums!!!

  • Caino

    Damn!

    RIP………………’How Long Will They Mourn Me?’

  • http://www.bear-radio.co.uk Lewbear

    R.I.P Guru. You are true legend too hip-hop;’(

  • Shah

    RIP

  • Shah

    RIP

  • http://www.jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    Rest In Paradise, Keith “Guru” Elam. A true Hip-Hop ICON! The Jazzmatazz series changed me forever and Daily Operation is a bonafide classic. GANGSTARR IS HIP-HOP!!

  • Magnetic

    R.I.P. I’ve been rocking with Guru since way back, “Words that I manifest” was the first joint I had heard from them and Gangstarr had been my favorite group ever since. Guru had jewels infinite, not like rappers today. I went and copped “Step in the Arena” today just to pay homage. “Hard to Earn” the illest album period!!!!!!!!!!1

  • http://www.myspace.com/slotchmusic ms_spittuh

    I heard about Guru this morning and cried…. seems like all the emcees I’ve always wanted to work with as a child has left. Sometimes it makes me feel as though its my fault that I never said “fuck what they want do me”…Ive missed out on Big L, Pun, ODB, now Guru…this makes me want to write harder and try harder…

  • R2J

    Gang Starr is one of my favorite rap groups of all time. When I heard the news, I was messed up when I heard the news. F*** Solar and that bogus letter of his. He’s up to some BS and I don’t like it at all.

    That’s another story for another day. RIP to one of the best and most intelligent MC’s ever. Gang Starr made sh** that was bangers and relatable which is what I do when I make music. THey effected me with hits like Code of The Streetz, Dwyuk and Mass Appeal. Like Guru, Gang Starr will live on and to DJ Premo, he’ll keep pushing his music to the max. RIP Guru,
    The Hip-hop game and the world will miss you.

  • kid vic

    R.I.P Guru from the west coast of canada your a legend and we will never forget you

  • q461

    RIP Guru. One of the greatest, taken from us too soon. Gonna be rockin Gang Starr all nite n his memory and honor.

  • Golden Child

    Guru has always been one of my favorite rappers. I grew up off of classics like “Mass Appeal” and “Dwyck”. But Guru was also a huge inspiration to me as a person. He was an out-of-towner from Boston and a broke nobody, but without any help or support from anyone he managed to become one of the greatest and most respected rappers to ever rep the county of Kings and New York City. He proved to me that if you have a dream, you can make it if you put everything at stake and try. He and Premier crafted songs that fit every different situation that provided a soundtrack to our lives. Whether I was running the streets wild as a juvenile delinquent (“Code of the Streets”, “Gotta Get Over”), going to college trying educate and better myself (“Words I Manifest”, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight”, “Positivity”), playing the field with the ladies (“Ex Girl to Next Girl’) or mourning the loss of a loved one (“In Memory Of…”) I was always bumping Gang Starr because I truly related to that shit and felt it in my heart. R.I.P. Guru.

  • Jon Dog

    This is a sad day for hip hop. rest in peace Guru, you will be missed…. Damn.

  • Bokeem

    RIP Hommie !
    Bulgaria Stand UP !
    Peace & Respect !

  • Face Phoenix

    I really hate to say this but hearing this news nearly moves me to tears. I really appreciated what Guru did for Hip Hop as well as for Jazz music. This was something I never saw coming esp after the heart attack but it shows you how fragile life really is. I am going to really have a hard time digesting that one of my favorite musicians [because he was more than just a lyricist] is gone and I will never hear his voice again except on all the Gems he left us. I pray and leave my condolences with his family & friends as well as DJ Premier because losing someone you worked with and collaborated with for so long is just like losing a brother. GURU, VAYA CON DIOS!

    Keith Elam (July 17, 1966 – April 19, 2010)
    - One of the Best Who Ever Did It. Gang Starr lives on.

  • http://xxl gside

    R.I.P. Guru . Hate to ask some crazy shit but was Guru gay the reason why is this dude solar and him being Guru partner they never say business partner just partner . So was Guru gay R.I.P .

  • Naughty NYS

    Damn that shit hurt in a odd way. Cuz I will be honest none of the ppl i knew growin up listened to him but I heard some old school songs and I loved his voice cuz he sound serious and honest about what he talkin about. I felt like i knew him ever since then so this shit is breakin my heart man. R.I.P. Guru. I keep playin “Right Where You Stand” ft. Jadakiss.

  • http://MYSPACE.COM HELTAH SIN SAY

    GURU I LOVE YOU BABY!! SAD NEWS TODAY WAS BRODCASTED OUT HERE IN LOS ANGELES OVER THE RADIO WAVES! GURU WAS MY FAVORIT RAPPER BEFORE TUPAC CAME INTO MY LIFE!

    “IM GREATER THEN ALL M.CS”

    “AND FOR MY PEEPS I TRULLY CARE, CAUSE WITHOUT SOME OF YALL I WOULDNT BE HERE”

    R.I.P BROOKLYN GET OFF YOUR FUCKEN ASSE’S AND PUT UP YOUR ONE’S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111

  • MR. UNDI$PUTED THE MOGUL

    RIP GURU!!!!!!!

    GANGSTARR IS ONE OF THE MOST LEGENDARY GROUPS OF ALL TIME. WHATEVER HAPPENED BETWEEN PREMIER & HIM SHOULD NEVER HAVE STOPPED THEM FROM SPEAKING, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE 1ST GOT DIAGNOSED WITH HIS ILLNESS. I NEVER BOUGHT ANY OF GURU’S WORK WITH SOLAR & NOW I NEVER WILL BECAUSE IT’S SOME SHADY BS GOING DOWN WITH SOLAR. SO TO HIM I SAY “F YOU!!!!!
    TAKE IT PERSONAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PEACE & GET MONEY!!!
    MOGUL $$$ GAME ’10!!

  • Drew

    This is a sad day for me and the rest of the hip-Hop community. Gangstarr’s music has been a part of my life. I can honestly say that I would be a different person if I didn’t hear all of the knowledge Guru dropped, album after album. ‘Moment of Truth’ goes down as one of my favourite tracks of all time and I will have it on repeat all night!

    Much respect to Guru and his family I am sorry for your loss

    R.I.P Guru we lost a Titan of Hip Hop

  • Enlightened

    Just a note on the gay thing and people asking why it matters (or would matter).

    That wouldn’t take away from his legacy as a great MC…

    but I’m tired of gay people comparing their legacy to that of Black people, screaming about their rights, but continuing to hide in the closet about it.

    There is no “closet” for Black people. You see Black a mile away. If they want to profile, discriminate, lynch whatever, there’s no hiding from that shit.

    The problem is the lying and getting mad and denying it. Some of these famous gay muthafuckas need to come on out and face the scrutiny and take the shots that come with it or else stop complaining when people speculate about it.

    Once again, not saying for sure Guru was.
    R.I.P. to him and fuck Solar.

  • chacho

    Real sad day. I remember watching take it personal video on yo mtv raps back in the day and saying who the fuck are these guys!!!!! RIP guru you will be missed.

  • Gemz

    My boy James Cloud from Brooklyn put me on to Gangstarr and I have been a fan every since. Guru has some of the most true and livest lyrics of any MC! May Christ Bless Your soul.

  • KLaP215

    R.I.P. Keith E. Elam aka GURU!!!

  • Yveshermann

    RIP Guru:Hip hop legend

  • GREG age 41

    I AM 41 YEARS OLD ITS OK BECAUSE MY LIFE HAS BEEN GREAT TODAY WHEN ONE GURU TRANSFORMED INTO THE ESSENCE IT STRUCK ME ON HOW MUCH HIS WORDS HAVE HELP ME COPE WITH MY OWN LIFE, IN THE EARLY 90S MANY OF US HAD A CHOICE TO MAKE GROW UP OR CONTINUE OUR CHILDHOOD DRINKING HANGING OUT GETTING HIGH SELLING DRUGS JUST CHILLING AT THE CRIB OR THE SPOT WHATEVER ..OR FILLING OUT THAT JOB APPLICATION FOR THE MTA OR GOING BACK TO SCHOOL OR SIMPLY WORKING THINGS OUT WITH YOUR BABYS MOTHER AND STOP LYING AND CHEATING..THE MOMENT OF TRUTH HELPED ME FIGURE THIS OUT THANK YOU GURU….LONG LIVE GANGSTAR…..

  • Richie the Dub

    “Stop beatin me in the head son, nah, I’m not buyin it”

    I can’t belive the big man’s gone, Ireland’s gonna have a special drink for him tonight.

    RIP Guru — hip hop really is dead now.

  • Richy

    “They say it’s lonley at the top in what ever you do, you always gotta watch muthaf+3$as around you, no man is invincable, no plan is fool proof, we all must meet our moment of truth.”

    RIP Guru – one of the greatest MC’s of all time, Hip-Hop owes you. Thank you

  • Curtis75Black

    Yesterday was just a sad day. I opened my phone to that news. I actually lost one of my Top 5. Rest in Peace Guru, a True emcee. Skills and innovation cannot be matched. There’s one Hell of a collabo session up in Heaven right now !!

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe this man is gone. I have had the opportunity to spend time with Guru, and regret not keeping in touch more. My heart bleeds, and I will miss you and your music

    One love family. MC

  • vincent

    For those who know hip hop, this is bigger than Biggie.

    RIP from France

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  • Jhon da Analyst

    Man, thanks to all the XXL commenters, save 2 or 3, that have shown their respect to One of the “Illest Brothers” to ever grip a mic. Man, I’m still dealin with this…..

  • Port Lyfe

    Solar is a bitch ass nigga for saying that Guru wrote that letter…Dude was in a coma right? And how much can a man on his death bed big up one dude and shit on another…on his death bed? Im not buying it

  • Picasso

    R.I.P Gura

  • http://xxlmag.cm EDDIE GILLISPIEIII

    THE VERY FIRST TME THAT I HEARD GURU JUST HIS DELVERY WAS SOMETHING THAT I HAD NEVER HEARD BEFORE.AND ALSO THE MUSIC WITH DJ PREMIRE ON THE ONES AND TWOS YOU CAN’T GO WRONG.ALL CAN SAY IS THAT THE RECORD MASS APPEAL IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BEATS OF ALL TIME.R.I.P.GURU AKA GANGSTARR. FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS FAN FOR LIFE

  • http://xxlmag Cheebahawk

    “But now i got K-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e, I’m self cause i’m me, and the nation of Islam has my support cause they try to re-educate ones that are lost…” if you don’t know those lyrics, your not a real Gangstarr head! RIP Guru/Keith Elam. One of the realest hip artists that ever touched a mic and blessed a stage, with real lyrics… God take care of your child. One

  • http://xxlmag Cheebahawk

    “But now i got K-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e, I’m self cause i’m me, and the nation of Islam has my support cause they try to re-educate ones that are lost…” if you don’t know those lyrics, your not a real Gangstarr head! RIP Guru/Keith Elam. One of the realest hip hop artists that ever touched a mic and blessed a stage, with real lyrics and infinite wisdom… God take care of your child, And Make Them Pay! One.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve listened to Gang Starr since ’88 and from the first time I heard that sound they were my favorites. No one understood my love for this dou and some friends even teased me for listening to him but as the years went on more and more people I knew started to appreciate his music- his genius. I was so angry when I found out about his death but today I’m so sad. Guru is the originator of rap/jazz fusion. I will miss him deeply

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  • KZ-Roc

    R.I.P Guru – One of the true greats -Sorry, but I have no interest in Biggie or Pac, cos they wernt my era, but Guru came from an earlier time when people didnt confuse hype and marketing with talent.To all old skool headz ( I’m 39),put on your fave Gangstarr joint and remember the big man.One love KZ Roc