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Guru

Keith Edward Elam  (July 17, 1961  – April 19, 2010), better known by his stage name  Guru  (a  backronym  for  Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal ), was an American rapper and record producer. He was a member of the hip hop duo  Gang Starr , along with  DJ Premier . He was born in  Roxbury, Massachusetts . About.com placed him on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time,  while  The Source  ranked him #30 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time, saying "Guru dropped some of the most thoughtful rhymes on wax". Guru died on 19 April 2010 from  myeloma  at age 48. Elam was born in the  Roxbury  neighborhood of  Boston ,  Massachusetts . His father, Harry, was a judge and his mother, Barbara, was the co-director of libraries in the  Boston Public Schools  system. He attended the Advent School on  Beacon Hill  in Boston,  Noble and Greenough School  in  Dedham, Massachusetts , and  Cohasset High School  in  Cohasset, Massachusetts  for high school.  Elam graduated with a degree in business administration from  Morehouse College  in  Atlanta and took graduate classes at the  Fashion Institute of Technology  in  Manhattan . Elam began his music career under the pseudonym  MC Keithy E  but later changed his stage name to  Guru . [6]  He founded  Gang Starr  in 1987. The group initially released three records, produced by  The 45 King , on the  Wild Pitch Records record label, but these records received little attention.  After a change in line-up, the group consisted of  rapper  Guru and producer  DJ Premier . Gang Starr released its first LP  No More Mr. Nice Guy  on Wild Pitch Records; the group achieved a sizable following and released six critically acclaimed and influential albums from 1989 to 2003. Two albums,  Moment of Truth  (1998) and compilation  Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr  (1999) were certified gold in the United States by the  RIAA . Gang Starr made archetypal East Coast hip hop with Guru's rhyming described as sharp-eyed but anti-ostentatious. In 1993, Guru released the first in a series of four solo albums while still a member of Gang Starr.  Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1  featured collaborations with  Donald Byrd ,  N'Dea Davenport ,  MC Solaar  and  Roy Ayers and received positive reviews.  His second solo LP,  Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality , featured  Chaka Khan ,  Ramsey Lewis ,  Branford Marsalis  and  Jamiroquai . The third installment,  Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul , was released in 2000, but it received less positive reviews.  In reference to the Jazzmatazz project, Guru told Pete Lewis of  Blues & Soul : "Back around '93—when I first came up with the Jazzmatazz concept—I was noticing how a lot of cats were digging in the crates and sampling jazz breaks to make hip hop records. But while I thought that was cool, I wanted to take it to the next level and actually create a new genre by getting the actual dudes we were sampling into the studio to jam over hip hop beats with some of the top vocalists of the time. You know, the whole thing was experimental, but I knew it was an idea that would spawn some historic music."   In 1994, Guru appeared on the  Red Hot Organization 's compilation album  Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool . The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as the album of the year by  Time  magazine . Guru's first solo album not a part the Jazzmatazz series,  Baldhead Slick & da Click , was released in 2001 to poor reviews. The album reached #22 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop album charts.  Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures , was released in 2005 on Guru's own record label, 7 Grand Records. The album was produced by labelmate Solar. It reached #54 on the Billboard R&B albums charts and received mixed reviews. Guru's final releases were the fourth installment in the  Jazzmatazz  series, released in June 2007; and  Guru 8.0: Lost And Found , released May 19, 2009 (also in collaboration with Solar). A Gang Starr reunion album was planned but was not released because of Guru's death. On February 28, 2010, Guru went into  cardiac arrest  and, following surgery, fell into a  coma .  It was claimed that Guru had briefly awakened from his coma  but died on April 19, 2010, at the age of 48, from  multiple myeloma , a form of blood cancer.  Guru was survived by his parents, three siblings, and a son named Keith Casim.  His production partner, Solar, claimed that Guru had momentarily awakened from his coma to compose a letter to the public,  although DJ Premier and members of Guru's family stated that he never regained consciousness.  Guru's family claimed that Solar had prevented them from having contact with Guru during his illness just before his death;  the validity of the death-bed letter was consequently challenged by Guru's family.  In an interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio, Solar claimed that he was protective of Guru, and everything he had said was true. This interview was met by extreme emotion from the hip hop community and did little to clear the controversy surrounding his actions. DJ Premier produced a tribute mix to Guru  and has released a public letter  along with Guru's sister Patricia Elam. Harry J. Elam, an older brother, wrote a personal memoir in remembrance published in  The Boston Globe  on April 23, 2010.  The Elam family had a Guru tribute website set up where visitors were able to view tributes and sign a memorial page.  Guru's nephew Justin Nicholas-Elam Ruff made a 16-minute documentary in which he narrated the story of his late uncle.   At the  2011 Grammy Awards , Guru's name was not mentioned in the annual retrospective of musicians who had died since the 2010 awards. On April 21, 2011, Revive Da Live Big Band held a tribute show for Guru at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.  The show paid homage to Guru's Jazzmatazz series and featured a full jazz band tribute, with all proceeds going towards the Elam family. During the concert,  Babygrande Records  donated $5000 to Guru's son, K.C. Elam.

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