YN Editorial: Undying Love

“Like straight up, as far as Premier’s beat style and my rhyme styles. That shit we own. You can’t duplicate that shit. Never in a fuckin’ million lifetimes.”

DJ Premier speaks with his hands. “Scandalous, money, greed and lust. In this trife life, there ain’t nobody you can trust.” In deep concentration, Preem cuts the opening lyrics of Moment Of Truth‘s “Betrayal” which now have added significance. The scratches are slow and plodding. Kinda like a funeral march. But tears weren’t allowed at my night at Sirius. Unbeknownst to most of us, Gang Starr’s DJ had already said goodbye.

Solar musta been slippin’ cause Preem and his homie, Vick Black (I still remember dude from the “Just To Get A Rep” video) did visit their old friend at “a fucked-up hospital” on Monday, April 12. It was Guru’s celebrated nephew Justin Elam Ruff‘s 21-year-old, lil brother Denzel that convinced them to go. And they didn’t like what they saw. Guru’s nails were long and unkempt. He was sportin’ a neglected afro. A loud-ass respirator was the room’s soundtrack. According to them, he died alone. That’s no way a rap legend should go out. Ever.

“I knew this chump see. He tried to play me
He was my right hand man, but he betrayed me
I let him chill at my crib, cause we were down and
I went to work everyday while he was loungin’
He tried to backstab, he kept on jokin’
He didn’t know he could’ve got his back broken
I had to cut homeboy off for even tryin’ that
His game was mad weak, know what I’m sayin Black?”

Preem meticulously mixes the opening lines of “Execution Of A Chump”. More messages in the music. But besides references to “Nigga Who?” and “Pumpkin Puss” and the occasional jab from the show’s co-host Panchi, Solar’s presence is felt but his name is never spoken. Instead a lot of focus is given to the Bartendaz, a group of men from Harlem who are focused on fitness. On their second visit to the show, they’re here to promote their new energy drink and even brought along a dip bar encouraging all in the studio to get their workout on as Preem runs through his group’s more “rebellious cuts”.

Bizarre scene? I give you that. But in many ways it makes sense. Guru succumbing to cancer must have all these men pondering their own mortality. A long life is hard to earn. And good health is essential. Plus what better way to let out some frustration and aggression than puttin’ your muscles to use. Later in the night, Preem taps his chubby frame and promises he’s gonna get back on his exercise grind.

A grinding halt to the evening’s good vibes is caused when Guru and the crew’s longtime lawyer Owen Lamb invades the program’s final 15 minutes. After mistakenly goin’ to Headqcourterz recording studio thinkin’ that was the broadcast location, he enters Sirius. He’s in pain. It’s his birthday and he’s visibly grieving. In mourning over his old friend, Owen’s anxious to get mic time to express his thoughts and he rudely fights to take over the show’s direction.

First order of business: A moment of silence for Guru. 3 seconds. Next: July 17, 1961. The day Keith Elam was born. Confusion cleared up. But then, things go left. Tension mounts as Owen mentions Solar’s name. Then he fully mounts himself on top of the soapbox. “Hear me out: I want you cats to make this shit positive. We got to all get together—that’s what Guru would’ve wanted in the end. Now y’all had your fallout with Guru. Y’all let our brother out the family. Out the house…” Operation shutdown. His mic is cut.

“Keep your headphones on and enjoy the show,” Preem says as he regains control. “Go do some dips.” But Owen still won’t be fully silenced. As the show closes a few minutes later, Owen grabs Preemo’s mic and cries out, “Solar get in touch with me. Solar get in touch with me”. Still the segue to Daily Operation‘s final song “Stay Tuned” can’t be stopped. The fader’s pushed: “Get with this. Get with this. Get with this cause you got no choice”.

Keith Elam died one week ago today and I doubt we’ll ever get full closure. As a hip-hop fan, the closest we can get is the image in our minds of Premier lovingly rubbin’ the Gang Starr emblem across Guru’s body. “I love you, Gu,” he probably said as he kissed him on his face knowing it would be his last time seeing him. See a legacy is bigger than the people who create it. You can replace friends. But you can’t erase history. Said it before. Say it again. Gang Starr Forever.

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  • misaki


  • bbones

    really enjoy these editorials

  • Theloneus

    Solar is completely messing everything up. Guru was a legend and should be remembered as that. Not as a guy whose last moments were looking like a homeless man who got hit by a car and was driven to the hospital only to die alone. Solar should’ve kept his mouth shut and let us remember Guru as a looked upon Hip hop artists dammit.

  • Theloneus

    Solar is completely messing everything up. Guru was a legend and should be remembered as that. Not as a guy whose last moments were looking like a homeless man who got hit by a car and was driven to the hospital only to die alone. Solar should’ve kept his mouth shut and let us remember Guru as a looked upon Hip hop artist dammit.

  • Longtime reader but never commented, but this, this alone, deserves even my words from a keyboard… One of the realest things i’ve ever read that last paragraph, something that I will be forwarding to the masses of my friends who love hip-hop, love Gang Starr, love good music.

    People don’t understand that this loss is as big as BIG, as painful as Pac, and as mysterious as JMJ (Though that’s obviously accounted for all three)… The man died from a disease we all neglect in our culture and community, considering all our best fallen soldiers die from the bullet or the blade.

    The gay rumors and such to me is bogus, I don’t even care now, it doesn’t change the music.

    Regardless of what is true and what is false, Solar is a fool, plain and simple, and the fact of the matter of him trying to gain a limelight on the demise of one of this cultures most influential and focal points makes me want to kill him myself, be it they were PIC’s or closer than that, you don’t EVER let someone go the way he’s gone and taint the image.

    Though my thoughts and feelings are clearly with Guru’s family, we dont know them… We know Premo, and to see him being taken for granted by anyone who is in hip-hop circles makes me as sad as Guru’s death made me… Regardless of a fallout, you dont let your homeboy die without one last meeting… For Solar to try and eradicate and eliminate that from HISTORY, speaks what kind of fucking fuck he is.

    I’m done the rant now, YN keep doing your than, RR keep doing your thang

    “You can replace friends. But you can’t erase history. Said it before. Say it again. Gang Starr Forever.”

  • HipHopper

    @ “Gang Starr Forever”

    amen. Still can’t believe Guru is gone.


  • I’ve been bumpin’ Gang Starr shit all week. Albums 2 through 6 on repeat shuffle. Don’t sleep on The Ownerz, only the singles were weak. Guru is one of the best ever. Name another rapper as consistent throughout his 30’s. Ha! (no YN)

    Over the past week I’ve noticed some reocurring words and themes in Guru’s lyrics: the slaying of “suckers” and “chumps” who haven’t “paid their dues”. But the idea of back-stabbing friends comes up over and over again in his lyrics: “Betrayal”, “Execution Of A Chump”, “Sabatoge”, etc. My question is, why was Guru messing with this chump Solar? If he’s had so much experience with cats like that, he should have known he was a snake.

    I’m glad YN has been giving Guru’s situation a lot of attention, and I’m feeling these editorials. I used to ejoy reading them in the old XXl mags.

  • HipHopper

    @ Chris Searl

    co-sign 100%

  • King JuggaNott

    Why does everything so much of a puzzle with what actually happened? Why does everything seem like a big mystery or things are being kept from the fans?

    I have learned in my years in life through reading and life experiences that one of the things that people fail to pay attention to is how your enemy will try to separate you from your support system. Together we stand…divided we fall. The fact that someone like Preemo and Guru were beefing is hurtful to hear…..I mean, brothers of that stature….you never would want to believe that they would go that route. Listening to the song “Betrayal” hit like a fucking bomb over my head when thinking about the situation. I’m sure they all know where they went wrong….but did nothing to change it….until it was too late. That has to hurt the most. Sad fucking story man…fucking sad.

  • TdotHipPY

    This shit is crazy. Forget the fact that it’s even Guru, nobody should die alone i wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I wonder if Solar can even leave his house?

  • mike

    GangstaRR’s foReveR

    guRu & pReemo

    R.I.P Goo !

  • BK

    Excellent Post YN.
    Fuck negativity, let’s keep it positive and remember the man’s legacy.
    R.I.P GURU

  • Boombapster

    Yeah it seems like Solar is gonna be more hated in the Hip Hop community than Obama is in the white conservative fox propaganda network teabag nazi party Republican community.

    BB$. Everybody Hates Solar.

  • Nina

    Wow This story just goes from bad to worse. A Man that lived such a great life and gave so much died neglected and alone. These tributes are amazing, but knowing what was happening the last months of his life, it’s terrible no one stepped in. RIP Guru

  • dat k00n nigga

    good shit

  • Che

    Thank you YN, nicely written. Solar’s behaviour was dispicable, it was so sad to see a legend go out like that 🙁

    RIP Guru.

  • Solar is gonna get his…evil fucking bastard…

  • Post no billz

    Yeah man,the whole situation is foul and sad…

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  • Well said YN!

  • raul

    WOW speechless!!!!

  • Kievy

    did Solar kill Guru? i know it sounds way out but…damn…a voice in the back of my head is quietly asking…