Simply known as Solar, the music-industry veteran knows when it comes to the hip-hop community, he’s probably the most hated man on the Internet. It seems that everyone is questioning his relationship with Keith Elam — better known to millions of fans as Guru — who died on Monday. On Wednesday (April 21), RapRadar.com had Solar as the focus of their infamous “You Played Yourself” section and one of the blog’s writers, Brian “B. Dot” Miller, referred to him as a “lying sack of sh–.”
“This is one solar that needs to be eclipsed,” B. Dot went on to write. And that may be one of the kindest things said about Solar, friend and confidant of the rap legend since 2002.
Twitter’s list of trending topics includes #F—SOLAR and longtime Gang Starr musical family member Bumpy Knuckles has been posting tweets directed at Solar that we cannot reprint here. Journalists such as “The Media Assassin” Harry Allen and Miss Info have openly questioned the authenticity of statements issued by Solar on behalf of Guru. Beloved rap figures such as ?uestlove have called him a fraud and Ice-T has expressed that he intends to get to the bottom of the situation.
“All this Guru drama WILL be exposed and dealt with … say no more … , ” Ice tweeted.
Solar maintains his intentions are pure and sat down with MTV’s Sway for an extensive discussion about his relationship with Guru and all the controversy surrounding his role in Guru’s life and tragic death.
“The friendship got close fairly rapidly,” Solar said of their first meeting through a mutual friend in 2002. “I think the reason why it got close is that I wasn’t interested in a record deal. I wasn’t interested in him as Guru. Me and him just hit it off as men. I got to know him as a man, he got to know me as a man. We were both going through tricky periods in our lives. I was working with homeless children at the time. It’s a heavy problem … Guru was dealing with certain situations. We started hanging out, hitting the clubs in New York. We needed to lighten it up a little bit.
“Once that trust developed, he was able to tell me about certain things within his life and career that was leading him to feel extremely frustrated that I believe contributed to his problems with substance abuse,” Solar continued. “Anybody who knows him knows that it was a very serious situation at the time. I wasn’t judgmental. I just listened and became a friend.”
Solar said he eventually helped Guru to rid himself of weed and other substances as well as alcohol, and he had been clean and sober since 2003.
Solar came onboard to work on Guru’s last two Jazzmatazz albums and toured with him. They also started the label 7 Grand Records.
“Once 7 Grand was started, certain aspects of Gang Starr kept holding onto him and he felt that it was dragging him down or holding him from getting to where he wanted to get,” Solar explained. “It was influences around the industry that he felt was contributing to that. It was a source of frustration for him and also for myself.”
Guru maintained a consistent touring schedule around the world. According to Solar, in early 2009, he started to experience pain in his back, which he at first attributed to vigorous gym workouts. After the pain carried on for a couple of months, Guru sought medical attention, which resulted in an MRI and a cancer diagnosis.
“He was upset and distraught,” Solar added.
Guru went in for further testing and it was confirmed that he suffered from myeloma, a cancer that affects the white blood cells. He had an operation in July 2009 that was unfortunately unsuccessful.
“It wasn’t long before we realized the operation wasn’t a success — by the end of the summer we knew the cancer was spreading.” Still, Guru and Solar continued to tour around the world — Guru was able to get onstage and perform as long as he took his medicine.
However, despite the setbacks, Solar insisted Guru didn’t want to tell his family about his situation, as he was still optimistic that he could overcome the diagnosis.
“When I met Guru, his situation with his family was somewhat of an estrangement,” Solar explained. “I was an advocate of meeting his mom, meeting his dad — developing a strong, good relationship with them.”
Solar said that Guru and his parents eventually became close again and he got back in contact with his brother as well, however he still wasn’t close with his sister Trish and her children. In March, Trish’s son Justin said that Solar — who had become Guru’s medical proxy — was keeping info from the family about Guru’s condition.
“My family has no way of knowing what is going on with Guru’s situation,” Justin said via his YouTube vlog. “[Solar] also has primary control over the decisions made for Guru’s health in the hospital. Solar has complete control of the flow of information. I know that Solar has been his right-hand man, day-in and day-out for the last six years, but that does not give him the right to make decisions about whether his family is to see Guru or learn about his status. The fact that he is acting like this lets me know that he does not have Guru’s best interests in mind.”
Solar denied that he took advantage of Guru while he was in a weakened mental state.
“He doesn’t fit the profile of someone that is mentally unstable,” Solar said calmly. ” … He knew exactly what he wanted to do, not only his business but his personal life.”
He also denied rumors that he used to physically abuse Guru while he was sick.
“Me and Guru, we used to play fight,” Solar answered. “Roughhouse. Not only with him, but other members of the band. These are all accusations without Guru being here to look you in the eye and saying that’s just ridiculous. That’s just idiotic.”
Solar also denied widespread rumors that he was involved in a romantic relationship with the MC.
“That’s untrue, completely unfounded,” he said. “Guru is a family man, I’m a family man. I don’t want to say anything against anybody living a certain type of lifestyle — everybody is free to live their life how they choose to live it — but that’s not my lifestyle or Guru’s lifestyle. We’re straight men. He dealt with women and family. I dealt with women and family. There’s never been any blurring of the lines whatsoever.”
Between last summer and February 2010, Guru’s focus shifted to his health, and his condition worsened to the point where Solar had to temporarily move into Guru’s New Jersey residence to help the rap legend with daily activities.
“It was getting bad,” Solar said. “His mobility was starting to worsen. I was staying in his home with him to help him with his day to day. I did it as a brother — I looked at him as a brother. I did that to preserve his dignity, even in those times.”
Guru checked himself into the hospital at the start of the year and underwent chemotherapy, but later suffered two cardiac arrests and slipped into a coma. He died on Monday.
Guru’s family issued a statement about his passing on Wednesday.