On a tremendously tough day for Gang Starr fans, the death of the duo’s MC, Guru (real name: Keith Elam) , from cancer was announced by his associate Solar early Tuesday (April 20), and included a long “farewell” letter that Solar said was written by Guru in the weeks before his death. The tone of the letter was harsh toward DJ Premier, Guru’s former partner in Gang Starr.
“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,” the letter reads in part. “I had nothing to do with him in life for over seven 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. …
“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.”
In the wake of the letter, fans, journalists and even some of Guru’s peers took to the Internet to question its authenticity. People close to Guru said it just didn’t sound like him, and many questioned how he could write a letter in such a weakened medical condition.
Rapper Bumpy Knuckles (also known as Freddie Foxx), who worked extensively with Gang Starr, fumed on his Twitter page:
“It’s an insult that websites would post a letter from a man who has been in a coma since Feb. R U serious? Do ur homework, journalist! Please,” he wrote in part. “Guru& DJ Premier made real hip-hop 2gether. No1 will ever be able to cloud that with fake letters and phony statements. Sites shld know better.”
The Roots’ ?uestlove took to Twitter as well, referencing French MC Solaar, who worked with Guru on the Jazzmatazz project. “Only Solaar I wanna hear w/Guru is the remix Primo did from France’s MC Solaar back in 92 when he KILT (flipped) Miles’ ‘So What.’ … Not trying to bring negativity into the situation. But I do NOT believe he wrote that letter. 1) he was in a coma. 2) HE WAS IN A COMA!”
“Just confused,” radio personality Miss Info wrote on Tuesday. “If Solar wrote this letter in Guru’s name to push agenda, it does Guru’s legacy a disservice (and their friendship too). All that Solar did in life for Guru, he undid in his passing if the words ‘I, Guru, am writing this letter’ are untrue…”
Reader Rob sounded off on MTVNews.com on Tuesday: “The Guru ‘farewell’ letter reeks of fakeness.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Solar spoke with MTV News about the controversy, saying that he and Guru had prepared the statement quite some time ago.
“In some ways, I’ve been prepared for this,” Solar said about Guru’s death. “We got the news that it was terminal at the beginning of the year, that the cancer wasn’t turning around. So we knew.
“He died yesterday. We both had hoped he would beat it,” Solar added. “It was a very inspirational, inspiring fight we fought.”
He vehemently denied that the letter was not written by Guru.
“I mean, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “Guru knew this time would come. The great artist he is, us being intelligent people, we knew there was going to have to be a statement relating to this. Unfortunately, there are those who have the wicked agenda, and just can’t accept that Guru and I have handled this thing as men and not children, and this is how men of honor handle their business. He arranged his press release. I’m the repository of Guru’s life story. I recorded his life story for book and for movies. We’re not foolish. He was diagnosed with cancer well over a year ago. It’s been operations and so forth. It would be ridiculous for him to not be prepared.”
At press time, representatives for DJ Premier and Guru’s family had not responded to MTV News’ requests for comment.
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