After a nearly two-month hospitalization, legendary rapper Guru (best known as the frontman for Gangstarr) died Monday morning (April 19), after a long battle with cancer,
He was just 43 years old.
Solar, Guru’s business partner and sidekick in recent years, told the Yo!Raps (who’s PR company had been coordinating press for Guru since his hospitalization) that the 43-year-old rapper had been suffering from a “malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed”.
He had tried to keep the cancer diagnosis private, but in early March, news leaked that Guru had been admitted to the hospital, suffered a heart attack, and was recovering from a mystery illness. Previous reports said he suffered from Anoxia, effects from a lengthy history of asthma and lung problems, but these new findings reveal a much worst condition.
“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.
“For the fans that reached out with love and support, I can’t tell you how much that meant to Guru and myself. Guru prepared this letter (read below) while he was in the hospital for the fans,” the producer continued. “I hope now that Guru has moved on to a better place.”
According to Yo! Raps, Guru penned this letter to fans, explaining his illness while in the hospital with terminal cancer. Read it below in its entirety:
“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 organization 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 been 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 is 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, organized 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 ex-DJ. 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 honor 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 world. 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.”
Guru (real name: Keith Elam) rose to fame in the 80s as the frontman to the legendary rap duo, Gangstarr, also consisting of DJ Premier. The group released the classic single, “Words I Manifest,” which was followed by their critically acclaimed debut, No More Mr. Nice Guy, in 1989. The group went on to release six official albums through 2003, before they split and went their separate ways.
Guru went on to found 7 Grand Records, partnering with producer Solar, and embarked on a solo career.
Since falling ill, there’s been a lot of controversy over news of his hospitalization. Family members of Guru publicly claimed that Solar had taken over control of the rapper’s decision making and had even barred them from visiting. The only official statements being released from the veteran rapper were relayed through his longtime partner Solar, which raised eyebrows from former Guru collaborators and friends. Solar, however, publicly denied claims of any malicious intentions and was only following the rapper’s instructions.
Unfortunately, Guru never got well enough to clear things up himself.
On Monday (April 19) when Guru passed away, so did a piece of hip-hop. He’ll forever go down in history as one of the best MCs to ever do it. Rest in peace GURU!