Within moments of publishing the news that former Gang Starr MC Guru had died at age 48 after a long battle with cancer, dozens of reactions began flooding in paying tribute to the pioneering MC.
“RIP my dude. You were the realest performer I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” wrote fan Cody James.
Russell said, “One of the slickest rhyme-sayers has moved on,” predicting that although he has passed, the classic Guru songs will “forever bang in somebody’s CD player or iPod.”
Reader Alex went further, saying a bit of hip-hop died on the day Guru passed, praising him for the fact that his unique jazz/hip-hop sound stretched from New York to the West Coast, while Julio said Guru and Premier were a huge influence on him and his love of hip-hop, calling Guru a pioneer and a rap “demi-god.”
A number also lamented that Guru and his former partner in Gang Starr, DJ Premier, seemingly could not overcome their differences before the rapper’s death, alluding to the strong language Guru used in a letter reportedly written by him before his death.
In the letter, Premier is not even referred to by name, but expresses the wish that Guru’s “ex-DJ” not 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.”
In addition to showering praise on the MC (born Keith Elam), a number of commenters expressed their concern that the posthumous letter from Guru’s partner, Solar, supplied by a PR firm handling press inquiries about the rapper’s health, was suspect.
“The Guru ‘farewell’ letter reeks of fakeness,” wrote Rob, who said he found it hard to believe that Guru was so bitter in death that he would go out of his way to diss his longtime music compatriot Premier. A spokesperson for the PR company that distributed the letter said it was submitted by Solar and approved by Guru and Solar.
“No real fan of Gang Starr is going to believe this letter!,” said Louis. “It sounds like something that was written between Solar and his lawyers while Guru laid in bed unable to write or speak. It sounds more to me like a letter bragging about Solar than about Guru’s personal legacy. How can you not want Premier to be involved in the death of Guru?”
In the end, though, they were mostly just sad that the world had lost such a gifted lyricist.
“When the world loses an artist, a hero, an icon, a pioneer, we as humans can’t help but look back at what this person has done to personally touch our lives,” said Marz. “Such a moment has come with the passing of one of the greatest MCs in the world of hip-hop. A man who didn’t conform, didn’t sell out, didn’t lose sight of the big picture. Integrity is the word that comes to mind. Through his words he showed me that to be down you didn’t have to set your morals or common sense aside. … Thank you Guru, for being one of the greatest street professors to so many who attended the school of hard knocks.”
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