When it comes to Guru's musical legacy, critics and fans alike point to the rapper's work with DJ Premier in Gang Starr as evidence of his mark on hip-hop. The letter issued to the media after the MC's death last week, however, didn't even mention Preemo by name.
In the alleged comments, Guru pronounced himself to be the sole founder of Gang Starr. Admirers of the group cried foul over the slight. Solar, Guru's new producer and spokesman, was accused of penning the letter, a claim he denied to MTV News.
Fans wondered: Who is Solar? And how did he meet Guru?
It turns out Guru met Solar when he was introduced by a mutual acquaintance, an artist named Black Jesus, who was signed to the Gang Starr rapper's label. Now aligned with Wu-Tang Clan, Black Jesus told MTV News he first met Solar in the early 2000s. Both men are members of the Nation of Gods and Earths, a religious sect, and were introduced at a monthly rally in Harlem.
According to Black Jesus, they discovered in one another a shared passion for music, and the rapper invited the budding producer to visit him in the studio. In the studio, working on a track titled "I'm Saying," Black Jesus said he found Solar to be "arrogant" and a "control freak" after clashing with another producer. The rapper said he chalked it up to Solar being "starstruck" over Guru.
Eventually, Solar started working with Guru, as the rapper was looking for beats for several projects outside of Gang Starr. Black Jesus recalled the time and emphatically denied Solar's claims that the producer and Guru had a dynamic creative chemistry.
"That's exaggerating the whole situation," Black Jesus told MTV News' Sway. "The chemistry, 'cause [Guru] is Gang Starr, that's his sound. ... He did his Jazzmatazz thing and did different things, but the whole thing was, Guru was producing for me. At the time he was doing [Gang Starr's] The Ownerz, he was working on my project. There was a chemistry we had. With the buzz, they kind of hated and didn't want to go with the chemistry. A lot of people thought that wasn't what he was supposed to be doing."
As Solar also revealed, Black Jesus said Guru had a dark cloud hanging over him in his later years, battling problems with drinking and drugs. He also suggested the divide between Guru and Premier wasn't as deep as people speculated. Black Jesus said it was similar to what any longtime group experiences: personal jealousies and minor creative differences. Solar, he explained, was an "opportunist" who preyed on Guru's vulnerability.
"Guru complained to me a few times, 'Oh, Preemo this,' " Black Jesus said. "I looked it at like, 'That's you and your crew. That's not really my business. You need to put aside your differences and put out a Gang Starr album,' I told him. I think it was the fact, if you want me to be honest, it was the beats. 'Cause he told me a couple times: When Guru steps off and they're not doing Gang Starr, he does his Jazzmatazz albums, and Preemo goes off and hits off Jadakiss, Nas and Hov. But I always felt [Guru and Premier] made their best music together."
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