N.O.R.E. released a tribute freestyle Tuesday (April 20) with Iman Thug called "R.I.P. Guru." Nore said he was scheduled to go in the studio and wanted to pay homage to the Gang Starr MC after hearing about his death.
"I didn't even think about being the first one," Nore told MTV News about putting out a Guru tribute record. "I had to do a freestyle for [producer] Clark Kent, and I said, 'What's more appropriate?' Handle two birds with one stone ... and send a rest-in-peace shout-out to Guru at the same time.
"I just came back from Vegas," he added. "I wasn't by a phone or a computer. I wasn't using it. When I finally got back in and got the news, I was stunned. Guru was a great guy. I got drunk with him a lot. He always showed love, respect. I wanted to pay my respect. I'm not big on funerals, so this is my way of going to the funeral."
In the freestyle, Nore raps about sharing great times with the trailblazing MC, who succumbed to cancer on Monday. N.O. told us they shared a mutual respect.
"I just remember eating at a diner somewhere and him reciting the vocals to 'T.O.N.Y.,' " N.O.R.E. recalled. "How ironic is it that I just went to the studio to finish the touches on 'T.O.N.Y. Part 2'? That was always his favorite record. It's ironic that the day I finish 'T.O.N.Y. Part 2,' I finish a tribute freestyle to his legacy. One of the wildest memories is us being in the diner and him running up to me saying [my lines]: 'N---as tried to sh-- on me, make history.' It was always mind-blowing to me. He was a general, he was a person I always looked up to, whose music I grew up on. For him to know my sh-- was a blessing."
Nore cited "Just to Get a Rep" as one of his favorite Gang Starr records.
"When I heard 'Stickup kids is out to tax,' that's exactly what was going on," he explained. "Being a stickup kid was even doper than being a drug dealer. Everybody goes out there to get their bread, and the stickup kids get 'em. The 'Dwyck' joint with Nice and Smooth — he just was a general. We rhymed over 'Mass Appeal' [on the tribute freestyle], so that was one of my favorites. He meant a lot. We lost another legend."
Share your memories of Guru and Gang Starr in the comments below.