Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guru (1966-2010)

Very sad news today. One of the greatest rappers of all time dies of cancer. Guru (or Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) was the smoky, chilled voice of Gang Starr who, along with DJ Premier, were one of the best rap acts ever.

I bought my first Gang Starr album in 1992, and what an album it was: Daily Operation. I lucked out big time, because it's still the CD I consider the best rap album ever made. Deep lyrics, great beats, minimalist production, and one-of-a-kind MC-ing. It just never got better than that.

I followed Guru and Premier, both as Gang Starr and as solo artists. In fact, in 1996, I saw Guru perform live at the Metro in support of his Jazzmatazz, Vol. II album. The always scintillating Vanessa Daou opened for him, and then he came out with jazz legend Donald Byrd and performed a kick-ass show. Me and a friend were grooving and dancing amid an audience of every ethnicity. I've never seen such a diverse crowd at a show, before or since. It was an amazing night. And, yes, I got the T-shirt which I keep in a 'time capsule' of all sorts of belongings from that period of my life.

After that, Gang Starr reunited for a couple more albums, but they ultimately broke up. After that, Guru's music inexplicably became everything he had been fighting against during his career. So, even though the best days of his career were behind him, it's still very sad to know that such a great writer and performer is gone. He will be missed.

See ya at the crossroads.

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