By Stephen CarlickFollowing a year-long battle with cancer, former Gang Starr MC Guru passed away Monday (April 19) at the age of 43. UPDATE: According to conflicting reports from Guru's family representatives, he was 47 or 48.
Many feared the worst when the rapper suffered a heart attack on February 28, then slipped into a coma, but the news world was relieved to hear just days later that Guru had undergone surgery, and was reportedly on the mend. He even issued a recovery statement, writing, "I am doing fine and I am recovering! I'm weak, though. [Guru's producer and longtime partner] Solar is the only person who has the accurate info on my situation. Any info from anybody else is false! I appreciate your well wishes and all the love!"
Then, things got quiet for a long time following a flurry of questions regarding the legitimacy of all of Guru's "statements," with Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, and the folks at the DJ Premier Blog all pointing out the oddness of the Solar-centric and Gang Starr-derisive posts coming from Guru's social media, which was being manned by Solar. Then, Guru's nephew came out of the woodwork, claiming in a video post that "Solar has completely cut us off. My family has no way of knowing what is going on with Guru's situation."
So, it is with a great amount of skepticism that we present Guru's (unedited) final letter which, according to Solar [via AllHipHop], was written by Guru in the hospital prior to his passing.
I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.
I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. 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.
My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody's feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.
I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.
Whether the letter is truthful or not, Guru will be sorely missed by the world of hip-hop, and will be remembered for both his contributions to East coast hip-hop as part of Gang Starr and for the jazz-hop boundary-pushing of his Jazzmatazz series.
UPDATE: DJ Premier has issued the following statement about his Gang Starr partner's death: "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."