Hip-hop icon dies of cancer

2010-04-20 14:24

American hip-hop artist Guru (43), who withdrew from the Cape Town

Jazz Festival earlier this month because he fell ill, has died of cancer.

Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, wanted his illness to remain

private in the hope that he would beat it, said his partner, Solar.

According to Solar, Guru had been battling the disease for over a

year: “Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.”

Solar has released a letter allegedly written by Guru before his

death, through a press agency.

In the letter, Guru explains his disease, thanks his fans for their

support and makes it clear that he does not want his former DJ, DJ Premiere, to

be involved in his affairs.

According to Mtv.co.uk, Guru became famous through his work with Dj

Premier in the group GangStarr. Together they released six albums and were known

for making “conscious rap”. A bitter breakup followed.

Guru then went on to form Jazzmatazz. His songs include Plenty,

featuring Erykah Badu, Super Love, featuring Kelis, and Keep Your Worries.

Guru was billed to perform at the Cape Town International Jazz

Festival earlier this month. After falling ill he was replaced by another

American hip hop artist, Bilal.

“In as much as I am glad to be here, I’m sad about Guru and wish

him all the best,” said Bilal before his Cape Town Jazz Festival


Letter from Guru (unedited):

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 organisation 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 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 are 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, organised 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


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 honour 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


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.

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