DJ Premier Blog » Guru Passed Away After Hard Battle With Cancer, R.I.P.

Guru Passed Away After Hard Battle With Cancer, R.I.P.

Guru has passed away yesterday morning (April 19) after a long battle with cancer.

According to Solar, Guru suffered from the malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed, the legendary MC succumbed to the disease. Guru always tried to keep this harrowing diagnosis in private but in early 2010 he had to admit himself to hospital due to serious effects caused by the disease.

Since the onset of illness, Guru tried to live a “normal” life as an influential and outstanding musician, loving father, family man, and best friend. Doctors encouraged Guru to think positive that the cancer can be arrested and that a full recovery is possible but several special treatments including hard hitting chemotherapies failed.

While in hospital with terminal cancer, Guru wrote a letter, which was provided by Solar, to his fans addressing his illness, his shining music career, his family and loved ones.

“I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options. I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting,” read the official Guru statement.

“My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody’s feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.”

The statement reads on, “I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.”

Guru, born Keith Elam, rose to fame in the 80’s as the founder of the legendary rap group GangStarr. The group released the classic single Words I Manifest followed by their critically acclaimed debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989) and the classic album Step In The Arena (1991). Guru was the first artist to truly blend Hip-Hop with Live Jazz beginning in 1993, and seeing the vast influences his Jazzmatazz concept has had on the industry, it is clear that Guru’s musical contributions have been way ahead of their time. Guru has worked with such great artists as Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Roy Ayers, Chaka Kahn, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Bob James, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Common, Angie Stone, Jamiroquai, Macy Gray and Damien Marley, to name a few. Despite the fact that Guru isn’t hailing from New York, he is noted as a pioneer of the New York sound and true lyrical Hip-Hop. Guru later on joined forces with hit producer Solar and formed his label 7 Grand Records with the goal to keep “real” Hip-Hop alive.

Guru’s longtime partner, Solar, issues an official statement about the lost of the legendary MC which you can read below:

“The world has lost one of the best MCs and Hip-Hop icons of all time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru! Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it but tragically this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius. For the fans that reached out with love and support, I can’t tell you how much that meant to Guru and myself. Guru prepared this letter [read above] while he was in the hospital for the fans. I hope now that Guru has moved on to a better place! Guru is a great Black American Hero and should always be remembered as such and he is much more that just a Hip-Hop icon — he has changed the world for the better. I salute my fallen brother Guru! He will be missed tremendously!” Solar stated.

We will sorely miss Guru, both from a personal and from a professional standpoint. Our warmest condolences to Guru’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

This letter is way outta hand. Pure scandalous. C’mon, this isn’t Guru who wrote this letter. Still questioning if he really got outta coma in the first place? Why the fuck did nobody stopped that dude??? I’m stuck with mix feelings, sorry. Hard to accept, R.I.P. to the man who marked 90s hip hop. R.I.P. Guru, what’s going to happen? He will be remembered for ever and ever!! DJ Premier, hold your head up for real. My condolences to his family and friends. Out of respect and mourning I’ll stop posting until this saturday (unless DJ Premier talks).

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441 Responses to “Guru Passed Away After Hard Battle With Cancer, R.I.P.”

  • Comment from Rashid.bk

    The more you read through that letter the more fake it sounds. For lack of creating drama in this time of reflection, I’ll simply say that someone’s running a scam and the real victim at this time is Guru, his son, his family and Preemo. It takes a real cold blooded snake to take advantage of someone terminally ill and then take it a step further and discredit a mans legacy.
    It’s a blessing every one sees through this clown, …..”he did it just to get a rep”.

    Rip Guru,
    …Through the realist eyes, I’ve seened the realist and the illest die…

  • Comment from Paul from Canada

    RIP Guru
    You’re above the clouds now homie.

  • Comment from The Ghetto Blaster

    RIP Guru! one of the most underated rap artist of alltime!!

  • Comment from dj clique twizzy

    i totally agree with you Rashid, mann this be the bullshit he was talking about in his tracks – lots of fake peeps out there who be wanting your money and when u dead they are first to claim “dat nigga said i should take care of his riches n his family” – lots of bullshit right there. man dat letter aint bankable… its fake all the way to the bank

    R.I.P Guru, we loved yah n will always do dawg…

  • Comment from Horacio

    Good bye genius…
    te recordaremos desde chile como cuando viniste…suerte en la otra vida

  • Comment from lakeyser


  • Comment from Big Zo

    Come on, MOST people on their deathbed make ammends not carry on the biterness, this letter is VERY suspect. Solar seems to be getting in postion for a law suit to grab that lott!!!! COME ON MAN!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment from Big Zo

    We used to live in the same building R.I.P. G.U.R.U.
    Stop Ongoing Lies About Royalness -OR(-SOLAR)

  • Comment from The MOON man

    I wanted to say goodbye to the only friend I never got to meet. Your music changed my life and your message saved my life. When I took a bullet your music made it feel better. God bless you and your family!

  • Comment from P-tech Santiago

    Thanks for all the inspiration!
    Rest in peace!
    / P-tech

  • Comment from canzoski


  • Back in 2000 I went to a hip-hop concert in a small venue in Chicago. Opening for Common was Guru, which back then seemed weird to me, who had less fame baggage than Guru. Of course, this was Chicago, Common´s territory.

    After Guru wowed the crowd, Common came on stage, and Guru left the stage. I was on the second level of theatre watching the show, and, as I went to get a drink by the empty bar behind, there was Guru, chilling alone, having a drink. Holy crap, right? I darted over, introduced myself, got an autograph, and, since no one else was around, asked him if he had a website and whether I could work on it. Back then he didn´t, but said it was in the plans, and someone was going to do already. I gave him my business card just in case.

    After a brief uncomfortable pause, for me at least, I thought, “might as well asking him something smart, to differentiate myself from the regular fan questions”.

    So I asked him what his creative process was.

    He responded “life”.

    Unsatisfied with that answer, I rewrote my question: “Ok, but how do you go about coming up with lyrics? Do you listen to Premier´s beats then write over them, or do you write then try to sync it over the beats? And do you figure 12 topics you want to touch on and then write, or do you just write a bunch? What´s your inspiration?”

    Obviously my question was hard to answer, mostly because I hadn’t formulated it that well. Here was another fan, interviewing for no media.

    He responded: “Life”. Again.

    Urgh… He wasn’t getting my questions! I gave up. He left, leaving me feeling like I had bored or bugged him, which is not the reaction you want to cause on someone you admire.
    Five minutes later Guru jumps on stage with Common, where they start freestyling back and forth. After a minute or so Guru chants something along the lines of:

    “I dont try to rap about the gun and the knife,
    my lyrics come from what´s happening in my life.
    Like I told Cristiano,
    my creative process doesn’t need the piano”

    I shat myself. No one else got what he was doing! It was him answering my question for the third time, showing a real life example of his process, and directed at me, in freestyle fashion.

    Genius for his speed, great for his dedication to a mere fan.

  • Comment from erik

    come on, that letter to his fans is B.S.!
    that is NOT Guru.

    Listen to any track off of any record, Gangstar or otherwise and you will know, WITHOUT A DOUBT that Guru did NOT write that.

    This sees clear through to the obvious forgery and fraud the letter is:

    “I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. ”

    fucking bullshit!

    Guru had love in his heart. He spoke it and lived it.
    For him to say such a thing as to NOT include Premiere…crap.

    Be well, live good-

  • Comment from mari

    The statement from his family clearly states “As a result, GURU was in a coma from mid February until his death and never regained consciousness.”. How was he able to dictate what should be written and/or write the letter himself if he never regained consciousness. Fake letter…and I don’t even know all the history.

    RIP Guru, may your legacy not be tarnished.

  • Comment from Mike

    Solar should be investigated and charged with fraud! There is no way Guru wrote that letter. Did you hear his actual family saying they NEVER knew of any charity that Guru set up?? I will tell you where that “Charity” money goes, SOLAR’S Pockets.. He is a true disgrace!!

  • Comment from blaziin101

    the ignorance of alot of the comments on here is sad. alot of you are tearing down Solar and only crediting and praising Premiere. Guru himself since 2005 has done nothing but say highly positive things about his best friend and partner Solar! and once again Guru said he and Premiere were never that close outside the studio!!! go read or watch some interviews of Guru and Solar together before you make ignorant statements. Solar and Guru have made remarkable music that most people care not to acknowledge. i feel alot of the negativity towards solar is childish and sad. Solar is a highly intelligent man and Guru had an enormous amount of respect and love for him. people hate the fact Guru didnt sell out thats why alot of sellout artists and DJ’s are trying to shit on Solar because he was a real loyal man to Guru and they chose not to sell out for money. Solar hold your head fam dont let all these haters and people with grimey agendas destroy your life. its crazy man Guru you will always be the illest and realest MC love always RIP

  • Comment from SKee

    Solar is a soft a$$ BFAN
    Letter breaks my heart and I HOPE it is fake. Guy is shady man. It’s called betrayal… money greed and lust cuz in this trife life there aint nobody you can trust.

  • Comment from Perish One

    My Ex DJ? how’ bout producer….come on has guru ever said Primo is just a DJ….Gangstarr is one of the illest and will be Primo and Guru For ever mad love I will post a flick of the production we are planning in Santa Fe New Mexico….mad love Primo keep your head up….

  • Comment from Obi

    How about us noticing Solar in this Gangstarr video for “Skillz” peep him at 2:20 when Guru asks where the pistols at. He is wearing blue sweatpants opening his jacket to flash a weapon so i guess he was around them back then. Still that letter was uncalled for by Solar. Shame on n…. who try to run game on a brother. Shame on you, Solar aka BipolarDiseasedFreak.

  • Comment from manny

    I wont forget the time me and my boy ditch school in his new ride. He said “check this shit out, my cousin sent it to me” popped in the cd and that was the day I fell in love with HIP HOP..RIP GURU!

    ps. That letter is fake as hell! WACK

  • Comment from Mc -T

    Damn maaan itz sad! Real Hip Hop has lost a pioneer and one of its most creative and positive souls!
    I met Guru twice after his concerts in Paris, both were a Jazzmatazz gig! What a concert and what a cool dude!!
    By far my top tops in Hip Hop and by far trully inspiring!

    RIP Guru – Gifted Unlimited Rimes Universal!

    Paris, France & Myself will trully miss you!

    G Bless’

  • Comment from Becu

    “Now like an angel you’ve risen and you will stay in my heart, and yo, I wish you were still livin’
    Word… this is in memory of…”
    Rest In Peace GURU

  • Comment from guru respect

    RIP guru

  • Comment from Dubious

    “I’m Gifted, Unlimited, Rhymes, Universal / Mcs that ain’t equipped get flipped in my circle”

    aaah shit GURU my niggah, yo shit will live forever in our ears, our heads…

    our hearts


    P.S. Lets stop all this wack speculating about who said what bout who etc.. lets just exchange our favourite gangstarr/guru memories like Mc-T, manny, cristiano and others

  • Comment from Nyak

    This is the saddest news I have heard lately. I miss him so much already. I can’t stop crying, I should have been by his bedside, he never hurt me, he was always there to wipe my tears. God bless him

  • Comment from joel wass

    For all the people saying that Solar is a snake and a liar, please just chill back one time. This is a dude who loved Guru and looked after him when he was sick. He and Guru lived in their own little bubble for so long that dude no longer has the self awareness and social acumen to see that he looks and sounds crazy. Solar is hurting and confused and doing the best he can. Don’t demonize him and ride one him, even though it’s easy to and tempting to do so. Solar is simply a black man who, while being neither the coolest nor the smartest, was placed in an extremely difficult situation and is trying to do right by his best friend the best way he knows how to. Pray for him and support him the same way you would any black man who is struggling.

  • Comment from mu

    I agree with Joel, you guys need to chill out!
    From what I have observed, Solar and Guru were extremely close. Solar was like family to Guru, you can’t deny this.
    I think Guru simply wanted to distance himself from DJ Premier to be recognised not as half of Gangstarr but as the hip hop jazz pioneer.
    He wanted his name to stand by itself, as someone who had revolutionalise the hip hop and the jazz. He was very proud of his Jazzmatazz albums.
    You don’t know what relationship he had with Premier after their separation, and you don’t know the relationship he had with his family either, so you are speculating way too much.

    Let’s just let time take care of things.
    Guru said he had instructed lawyers to enforce some things. He has given the guard of his beloved son to Solar. That must mean something.
    Solar did not have the genious of Guru, but he was his friend, and so for that, he deserves respect.

    And I wanted to conclude this by saying how sad I am, Guru, that you have passed away. I remember seeing you at the Jazz Cafe in London, the 21st June 2007. It was madness, I had such a good time. By the end of the concert, we were just like amateurs rappers, shouting ‘that’s the real shit’!
    I will miss your beautiful voice and incredible charisma, you were one of a kind Guru.
    Repose en paix


  • Comment from freeze

    One Love – RIP

  • Comment from DomNyce

    Rest in Power to my man Guru. I was blessed with the chance of meeting him at Tower Records for the Moment of Truth Lp release day in Boston in 1998 very humble and cool he was to me. I still have the drop from Dj Premier and Guru together giving me a shoutout for my mixtapes that was a great experience as he is one of my favorite Mc’s and in my opinion the best Mc to ever come out of my hometown. Mad props to Gangstarr for always coming through with the timeless classics from Words I Manifest to Skills in between and beyond. Guru and his music will be around forever and through his music we will celebrate his life. The records he has blessed us with I will never stop listening to as it is some of the purest Hip Hop that was ever created.

  • Comment from Magazin

    Hi, thank you very much. good job.
    Magazin haberleri

  • Comment from Clark

    Hey, after reading all those words in that letter it seems hard to believe that a brother like GURU would publicly state such harsh vibes towards Preemo, it just makes no sense. If he had his reasons, i am sure GURU would’ve taken care of that issue in a more formal and discreet way, like he did with his illness.
    Eventually the truth will find its way, shine the light.

    GURU, fuiste y siempre vas a ser una inspiracion de frescura, positivismo, escuela, ritmo, amor, paz, verdadero MC, profesor de la vida, maestro del arte de la calle, y pionero del hiphop jazz que fluye por mis venas desde que escuche tus rimas por primera vez mientras rodaba las calles de Chepe en los principios de los 90′. Muchos tratan, algunos se parecen, nadie te iguala.

    Descanza en paz hermano – Chepesent, Costa Rica

  • Comment from lalao

    reposez en paix Guru, vous allez nous manquer pas de gunshot mais un cancer a prit votre vie votre héritage est grand et continuera de vivre au delà de la mort, je vous aime Dieu vous bénisse et la vie continue peace.

  • Comment from lalao

    je vois que mon soutien a Guru n’a pas été celui que je voulais, je suis de franque et ne parle très peut américain (anglais)reposez en paix Mr Guru, vous nous avez quitté pas comme beaucoup de rappeur par le gun mais par cette terrible maladie qui est le cancer, votre héritage est grand et continuera de vivre au delà de votre mort, je vous aime que Dieu vous bénisse et la vie continu peace.

  • Comment from sumadince

    I have a pic with me with GURU! And some dude O wait a minute, his name is solar! Before that night never heard of him before!!!! Exapt for the fact That I didn’t like him in tha beginning!!! I call it negative energy and ddddaaaaammmmnnnn I was right And now some skanless motherfuckers wanna take what’s mine (GURU)
    But they can’t take the respect, that I’ve earned in my lifetime !!!!! DA TRUTH Love you Guru and to ya fam Big respect!

  • Comment from Fure Boccamara

    Un pezzo di storia. Rispetto.

  • Comment from toledo ohio mareo money

    let,s get ready gangstarr 4 life mareo money let,s get it bro.

  • Comment from Rich Lehl

    Thank you, Guru. Your time on this earth as an innovative and influential MC will forever have its place in my life and hip-hop history. You deserve only the utmost respect. I think we all feel robbed in more ways than one. Those that are representing you have lost their way and have been plagued by the disease called GREED. A real tragedy. Your absence will always be felt.

    R.I.P. Guru

    One Love

  • Comment from lalao

    Guru tu m’a donné l’amour pour le rap et voila que tu t’en va sans crier part, mon vieux tu vas nous manquer, toute mes condoléances a la famille et mon gars Solar, peut être au paradis je t’aime.
    Repose en paix Guru.

  • Comment from NYTOWL

    Just wanted to say Rest in Peace to the God Guru…you influence me heavily in my yestar-years…..Thank you for your contribution the World of Music and The World in general…..losing you is like we are losing the best parts of This Culture we call Hip Hop…I will try to use the lessons you taught to continue to inspire youth to keep it 100% real in music and life….Once again thank for bring us DWYK GANGSTARR GURU JAZZMATAZZ and may your loved ones get through your return with Strength Unity and Love….Peace….NYTOWL solo artist Compton CA…..

  • Comment from NYTOWL


  • Comment from CK

    I, like many of you, was lucky enough to have met him when he was down in New Orleans one year for the Gavins. He chilled with us after his concert, even came back to our house and hung poolside. He struck me not as a famous hip-hop star but rather as an intelligent, down to earth, poetic, gentle man. I often think back to that night and smile. I thank him for those smiles in memory and those that come now when I listen to his music. Getting divorced is a bitch but “Ex to the Next” makes it a little easier. Godspeed Guru. Until we meet again. One love, CK

  • Comment from Robin

    if you look at the writing styles in Guru’s supposed statement and in Solar’s statement, they are rather similar. Did Guru commonly make spelling and grammatical errors (i.e using “except” instead of “accept”, run-on sentences, etc)? I think that will be a big clue in unraveling this.

    Even if he is telling the truth and Guru did write that statement, when you truly love someone you don’t encourage them to cut all their ties with their family and ex-partners when they’re dying; you encourage them to set it aside and spend some time together before it’s over. Solar clearly encouraged him to do the opposite. And besides, people write things they normally wouldn’t when they are very sick. A true friend would have kept the first paragraph and tossed the rest to spare his good friend’s family from more grief. Solar is no friend to Guru.

    My condolences to Guru’s family, both blood-related and not. This is such a loss.

  • Comment from Big Zo BK ALL DAY

    R.I.P. G.U.R.U. One of Brooklyns Finest. Ryhmes will live 4 EVER “B”
    Don’t know about that letter. What dying man has such harsh statements, did’nt know Solar stood for: S top O utlandish L ies A gainst R oyalty. Heard body was cremated, this is very strange biz, with this Solar clown. Someome needs to look into this stuff!!!!!

    Peace Big Zo (718/704)

  • Comment from Domanuclear

    hokahey….peace to guru and the fam our blesings are with you we all lost a legendary icon in the hip hop world like many before he is lost but will never be forgotten….peace from the the mouthounds…

  • Comment from oli

    R.I.P. Guru

  • Comment from stefan

    I am still in shock. What a loss. But then when you think about it, I feel very grateful he shared his outstanding talent and gift with us…he left us so much
    as far as this controversial letter, lets not dignify it by paying attention to it

    RIP Guru

  • Comment from True Gangstarr Fan

    Wake up people Solar wrote that letter to try and bank of of GURUS death. FUCK SOLAR, GANGSTARR FOR LIFE the real dream team (GURU/DJ PREMIER)Love you GURU one of the best to ever spit on a mic. You will never die in my speakers.

  • Comment from Jordans 1

    Luckily for your blog! In this wish you happy every day! Every good mood! Every good luck!

  • i luv the gangstarr hiphop/jazz music….yo ponia sus beats con my gang por mi colonia, les di a conocer a primo y guru…hemos perdido a un maestro de la lirica…hes not a rappers, hes a lirycist…rip

  • Comment from Raj

    “born with a heart of gold, now mostly cold and scarred”- Guru (the Militia)

    My heart is broken on your passing GURU, RIP.
    Moment of Truth changed my life and is still as influential today as when the first day i got it.


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