A Full Dose of Guru of Gang Starr and the 1990s!

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Music

Well I am continuing with Guru of Gang Starr today. I am hoping I can develop a more complete piece on this Hip-Hop innovator who just died on Monday. I have alotta catching up to do. Have his most commercially successful record from 1998, Moment of Truth, and today I picked up four mores singles: Full Clip, Tonz `O` Guns, Mass Appeal and Just to Get a Rep. Hard for a white boy, baby boomer from the suburbs of North Dallas to wrap my head around this urban rap, but I`m trying.

Tonz `O` Guns has incredible lyrics! It starts off with Malcolm X (I believe) decrying violence for blacks. “It`s like you have to have steel just to feel relaxation.” The social situation is all explained against the pathos of a repeating sample hook.” Tons of guns really easy to get…they like to feel the chrome in their hands.”

The gangs were at their peak in the early 1990s. Hip-Hop flourished in this culture. Scratchin` on Mass Appeal against sampled monotone. Excellent lines. Just to Get a Rep tells a tale of a doomed small time hood. I wonder if it`s generic or a real account…Perhaps this is a time to take a look back at the `90s…Gang Starr captures that era…

Hip-Hop Artist, Keith Elam, Known as Guru of Gang Starr, Dies

April 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Music

Keith Elam, known as Guru from the hip-hop duo Gang Starr, has died at 43. Guru had melanoma and had been in a coma since he had a heart attack on March 2nd, and died on Monday at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, N.Y. Keith partnered with Chris Martin, with a stage name of DJ Premier, to form an innovative Hip-Hop group that merged rap with jazz.

Gang Starr did a track, Jazz Thing, for Spike Lee`s film, Mo Better Blues. This track helped to promote this new genre of jazz/rap. Gang Starr did six albums together; the most highly acclaimed one was Moment of Truth. I picked up Moment of Truth up on itunes today. I don`t like all hip-hop, but this is legitimate stuff-relevant lyrics with interesting samples, punching beats and repeating hooks. Could use some more education?

Elam went on to do four solo albums, starting in 1993, with his four-volume Jazzmatazz series. Apparently, this weird “deathbed statement” has been confirmed as a forgery by Guru`s family. Must be a sick joke? Back to Moment of Truth for me.