Wednesday, April 28, 2010

R.I.P: Guru (1966-2010)

Well, here's another sign that hip hop is pretty much fucked. It was bad enough when Guru insisted on going off with the seemingly exceedingly wack Solar (not to be confused with the exceedingly French MC Solaar) but to hear that Guru had passed a week or so ago from a heart attack and that he had been fighting cancer previous to that was even more disheartening.

In the wake of his passing, there have been many fingers pointed in Solar's direction regarding the handling of his affairs. Guru had been in a coma for a week or so before he actually passed, yet there has been a questionable note from Guru forwarded by Solar that pretty much defamed Primo and the Gang Starr legacy. Most bizarrely it seemed to give Solar control of his affairs. The note was questioned from the onset by those close to Guru and as time passed, what was once a note was next a statement dictated to Solar, then followed with obstinate silence. All of this seems fishy, and takes away from the legacy of a legendary MC. The Gang Starr records are the high water mark of quality hip-hop and there is no way that his post-Primo material could compare. I wasn't the hugest fan of the Jazzmatazz series, but recognized it as being well-done. It was the best selling stuff in the Guru catalog and huge overseas even without the JS-NYC nod and established Guru as one of the most forward thinking artists in hip-hop. Condolances to the Elam family and a big fuck you to Solar.

Anecdote(s): I could never go to any of the few hip-hop shows that came to my local roller rink when I was a kid. I couldn't go by myself and my parents would never take me, fearing violence, so it was only when I moved to NYC in the mid-90s that I could actually take in hip-hop shows on the regular. I was broke as hell that summer, so I only bought two cds for the first four months I was in town: the cd single of Stay by Lisa Loeb (which would later prove staggeringly ironic) and Hard To Earn by Gang Starr. GS protege Jeru The Damaja blew up huge that summer and I was stoked when I saw that Jeru was performing with M.O.P at Tramps, at that time just a few blocks from my house. It was either a CMJ or New Music Seminar show, so I got there early and there were the requisite million other artists tagged on, most unremarkable save for an early Bahamadia appearance. As the evening dragged on, the room filled up and I came to realize that myself and an older Jerry Garcia-looking photographer were the only caucasians in the room. Not a big deal, but as we moved forward towards the time the headliners were appearing and M.O.P took the stage the crowd parted and three guys forced their way towards the front of the stage. One had his bandana tied Juice-style and he pushed his way up front, shoving everyone out of the way. It was Guru and a couple of his boys, amped to see M.O.P.

On stage M.O.P are doing How About Some Hardcore when Guru and Malacki The Nutcracker of The Group Home +appear on the side of the stage. Malacki loses his shirt and has a straight cane that he's swinging around. He notices the older white photo guy and proceeds to spit on him repeatedly, concerning some people mildly and this guy and the photo somewhat moreso. While we are wondering how things are going to go, the crowd pushes violently to the right easily fifteen feet and I'm behind I flipped over table. Looking over the table we see a guy waving a gun around and the left half of the crowd bailing out the front door. I'm not sure what ever happened to the guy, but after escaping safely I enjoyed a chuckle that the first time I had gone to an NYC hip-hop show I had literally almost been shot. Those were the good old days.


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