You may have heard the sad news that Keith Elam (aka Guru) succumbed to cancer this week—an illness he'd been battling for sometime now. Guru was a pioneer of hip hop on several fronts. His work with DJ Premier as Gang Starr is some of the finer hip hop to have been released in the 90s, and his contribution to the hybridization of jazz and hip hop in his famous Jazzmatazz series of albums literally saved the (what should have been obvious) idea that the two styles can coexist after Miles Davis' horrifyingly bad attempt on his final album, Doo Bop.
The cut below is my personal favorite Guru track. It takes me back to a time when I was a punk skater kid, watching 411 and Transworld videos. In fact, I was introduced to Gang Starr and Guru subsequently through hearing this song on Steve Olson's spot on Shorty's "Fulfill the Dream" video. I really miss those times... skateboarding was one of the first activities that gave me that wonderful false sense of rebellion: not wearing helmets, sneaking into R-rated movies, listening to music with explicit lyric tags on the fronts of the CDs... Hip hop (and discovering actual good hip hop especially, Wu Tang, Deltron, DJ Shadow...) was a huge part of that time in my life. Ahhh, Gang Starr... you once made me feel like a prince. Thanks for the great times, Guru—you shall not be forgotten. You truly are "Above the Clouds" now.