Tag Archives: keith elam

guru follow up: mental health is some real shit

dear readers,

i’m over here thinking about mental health. how many of us in this hip hop extended family are dealing with real for real mental health issues? too many. we self-diagnose, we self-medicate. but we aren’t always successful at balance.

hence the way a strong warrior like guru could be so caught up in the powers of one personality, in this case, solar. i feel like that’s a mental health issue, straight up.

i respect the fact that no matter what’s been said about dj premier, preemo always responds in the positive. he speaks of his love for guru below, in a recent statement addressing guru’s supposed death bed letter, the one that reads like a cease and desist notice. i learned this off sohh.com:

DJ PREMIER’s Response:

“IT WAS A SAD DAY FOR ME TO GET CONFIRMATION ON THE DEATH OF A MAN WHO I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL MY BROTHER, KEITH ELAM, BETTER KNOWN AS GURU OF THE LEGENDARY GANG STARR,” he wrote. “FROM 1988-2004, WE EXPERIENCED SO MUCH SUCCESS TOGETHER THAT WE WERE ABLE TO EXPAND OUR BUSINESSES INDEPENDENTLY AND GIVE EACH OTHER WHAT GURU CALLED “CREATIVE SPACE,” BEFORE PLANNING TO REUNITE FOR OUR 7TH LP WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT. TRAGICALLY, WE WILL NEVER REACH THAT DAY. I’VE BEEN ASKED TO COMMENT ON A LETTER SPEAKING ILL OF ME WHICH WAS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY GURU IN HIS DYING DAYS. ALL I WILL SAY ABOUT IT IS THAT OUR TIME TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL, WE BUILT A HIP HOP LEGACY TOGETHER, AND NO ONE CAN RE-WRITE HISTORY OR TAKE AWAY MY LOVE FOR HIM. ONE THING I WOULD NEVER DO IS PLAY AROUND WITH THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS LIFE. I WILL CELEBRATE GURU’S LIFE… I WILL HONOR HIS MEMORY… I WILL GRIEVE WITH THE ELAM FAMILY OVER HIS UNTIMELY DEATH…” (DJ Premier)

Also, Guru’s sister, Patricia Elam, issued this statement on behalf of the family:

“The Elam family wishes to thank the fans of our son/brother/father uncle/nephew/cousin Keith aka GURU for the outpouring of love, concern and support,” it read. “Our hearts are broken by the loss of someone we loved so much. GURU was devoted to his young son, who will most keenly feel his absence. GURU suffered from multiple myeloma for over a year. Accrued complications from this illness led to respiratory failure andcardiac arrest. As a result, GURU was in a coma from mid February until his death and never regained consciousness. Early on the morning of April 19th, he became hypertensive due to low blood pressure. He again went into cardiac arrest and slipped away from us. GURU died far too young but he was, and we are, proud of all his many legendary musical contributions. The family is not aware of any foundations established by GURU. We know and understand that countless fans want to express their condolences and love and, to that end, we are planning a memorial event in the near future that will be all-inclusive. Please look for further details from the family as they become available. from The Elam Family.” (Press Release)

that’s the update. meanwhile, the supreme court of this land is on a full throttle ride to decimate our first amendment rights. more on this next time.

peace,
roopa

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Gay Rappers: (so) What if Guru is gay?

Correction: The article below has been updated, changing originally identified MC Solaar (occasional collaborator of Guru) to Superproducer Solar (partner of Guru). Thank you to reader Sabrina for the heads up.

Dear Readers,

A recent report has Guru in stable condition at a New York area hospital.  But the end of February brought with it stunning word of mouth news that Guru, aka Keith Elam, had suffered a heart attack and that his condition was  “touch and go.” But after only a short buzz, a sense of suppression surrounded this tragic near loss.  I wonder if its because Guru is gay.

Guru is half of the timeless hip hop group, GangStarr, with collaborator DJ Premier.  I hope that he is able to live so much longer than this.  Not only did Mass Appeal get me through law school, look at how relevant and courageous the content is in  this era of hip hop mogul-tools dominating airwaves.  Plus the beat is so clean, a “Me, Myself, and I,” meditative precursor to the Kid Cudi sonic landscapes of earphone-fresh today.

Hip hop blogs were chiming in on how Solar, a gods and earths dude who calls himself Superproducer Solar, had exclusive rights through a health proxy to be with Guru in the hospital.  Bristling posts bemoaned Solaar’s presence, saying he even had more control than blood family over Keith’s relevant medical decisions.  And some of those posts had a point. It could very well be that Guru/Keith has entered into an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with a dude who wants to leech off the Guru star. I just checked out the 7grand site, Guru’s current label, and lord knows Solar is all up next to Guru in every damn picture. Addictions come in all forms, you can certainly be addicted to personalities. It happens to the best. The nuance here is how to talk about the idea that co-dependency is enabled by marginalization, and if Keith is in a gay relationship with his partner Solar, then perhaps it’s double hard for him to get free.

Sources say Solar is married, so, I could be wrong.  But periodically the “Who’s the gay rapper?” brigade start their witch hunting, and I for one just want to say, we are what we are.  We need some rappers to come out and stand proud, not just marginalized rappers, but the many gay rappers in the mainstream.  What a difference it would make!

Here’s a bit more on Guru, from, The Names Blog:

“Elam, 43, has kept a low profile in recent years, but released a solo album, “Lost and Found,” in 2009. Gang Starr, whose LPs included “Step in the Arena,” “Daily Operation,” “Hard to Earn,” and “Moment of Truth,” was one of the first rap acts to blend hip-hop and jazz. Their music caught the ear of director Spike Lee, who included the group in the soundtrack of “Mo’ Better Blues.” Elam’s father Harry was a lawyer and judge – appointed to the bench by Gov. Francis Sargent – and his mom, Barbara, was a director of the library system in Boston schools. Elam attended Noble & Greenough School and Cohasset High School before enrolling at Morehouse College in Atlanta. In a 1992 interview with the Globe, Elam said, “You have to go for yours. Nobody is going to do it for you. My father used to say that all the time, but I never really learned that until I was out on my own. That’s one thing a lot of young brothers have to learn for themselves.” (From: The Names Blog)

Peace,

Roopa Singh

Hip Hop Politics Professor

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