Keith Elam, who performed as Guru with the high-profile hip-hop duo Gang Starr, died yesterday. He was 43 and had been battling cancer. Although Guru was from Boston and partner DJ Premier from Houston, Gang Starr played a high-profile role on the New York underground rap scene of the '90s. Guru recorded with Gang Starr from its founding in 1987 into the 2000s even as he established a solo career with his Jazzmatazz series of albums, MTV reports.
"The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time," collaborator and producer Solar said in a statement. "The world has lost a great man and a true genius." In a letter he arranged to have released after his death, Guru wrote: "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."