As half of golden age rap group, Gang Starr, Guru was a minimalist rapper whose laid back vocal belied a motivated, socially conscious outlook that inspired a decade of hip-hop. Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, died Monday at the age of 43, after a drawn-out battle with cancer.
With the help of Tricia Rose, chair of the Afrikana Studies Department at Brown University, we look back on Guru's life and work with Gang Starr, as well as his solo work, a series of recordings and tours, "Jazzamatazz," which saw collaborations with the likes of Erykah Badu, Isaac Hayes, Herbie Hancock, and The Roots.
We also speak with one of Guru's vocational peers, J-Live, an emcee and producer who grew up on Gang Starr, about the rapper's mass appeal. Listen:Listen to Guru and Erykah Badu's song, "Plenty":