Tag Archives: Guru

New Joint – Gang Starr

Gang Starr – “Glowing Mics – Founders Remix” (@GangStarr / 2021)

The legendary DJ Premier invites us once again to celebrate the legacy of the late, great Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal with this latest video from the “One Of The Best Yet” album, featuring Spice Adams, Guru’s son KC, founding group member Big Shug and his son Trumayne.

A Decade Later… – RIP Guru

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10 years ago today we lost one of Hip-Hop’s greatest emcees and someone I was fortunate enough to call a friend – Keith ‘Guru’ Elam!

I’d been a fan of Gang Starr since Guru and Premier’s early work on Wild Pitch but in 1994 my connection to the group became personal when the “Hard To Earn” album dropped.

I was 18-years-old with dreams of making my mark as a Hip-Hop journalist here in the UK, but at that point my attempts to get my writing in print hadn’t yielded any success.

Guru’s rhymes on “The Planet” immediately struck a chord with me as he detailed the struggles he’d gone through as an aspiring artist trying to get his voice heard in the rap game.

“The Planet” became something of a personal anthem of mine, with a couple of the closing lines from the track sticking in my head as I continued chasing my own break – “But I’ma be aight still, Cos I’ma keep writing s**t and perfecting my skills.”

Fast forward to 1998 and whilst I’d succeeded in getting my work used by a couple of underground / independent outlets, I’d yet to make it into any major publications.

It would be a review I did of Gang Starr’s “Moment Of Truth” album that would change that.

At that point I’d pretty much decided that my writing dreams were unlikely to become the reality I’d been hoping for. But I’d already written that particular Gang Starr review so, thinking of it almost as a last shot, I sent it out to different publications (as I’d already done with numerous other pieces) attached to a cover letter introducing myself.

That “Moment Of Truth” review grabbed the attention of Will Ashon, who was then music editor at Trace magazine, which resulted in me being asked to cover a number of albums for the mag. That refuelled my self-belief to keep pushing on and, shortly after, a few other things fell into place with my work also being used in a number of other publications. The rest, as they say, is history.

I once told Guru that story during one of our many conversations. We were in the back of a London taxi heading to Tim Westwood’s studio for Guru to pre-record a radio interview.

I remember that big smile Guru had came across his face, he dapped me up and said “Yo, I’m pleased to have helped you get to where you needed to be.”

That was a real full circle moment for me and something that I will never forget.

In my experience, Guru was a genuine individual who spoke from the heart whether he was talking on or off the record – he had a relentless passion for the culture of Hip-Hop and was truly grateful for the love his music received.

RIP Guru – thanks for the rhymes, thanks for the inspiration, thanks for the memories- gone but never forgotten!

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Myself and Guru in London, 2009

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2019 (Part Two) – Gang Starr / Benny The Butcher / Train Robbers etc.

Check Part One here.

Gang Starr – “One Of The Best Yet” (Gang Starr Enterprises) – The trials and tribulations DJ Premier experienced in order to complete this album were well documented in 2019, but the hardcore composer’s determination definitely paid off, with this celebration of the late, great Guru largely succeeding where so many posthumous rap albums have failed. Nothing about this project appeared forced or rushed, with Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal sounding as timeless as ever and Preemo delivering quality boom-bap throughout. Input from crew affiliates such as Group Home, Jeru The Damaja, Big Shug, Freddie Foxxx and M.O.P. made “One Of The Best Yet” a true family affair. RIP Guru! Gang Starr forever!

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Your Old Droog – “It Wasn’t Even Close” (YourOldDroog.BandCamp.Com) – The first of three full-length projects released by the prolific NY emcee during 2019, Droog’s natural rhyming ability shone through here, with the Rotten Apple lyricist making the writing and delivery of intricate verses appear easy, backed by production from the likes of Sadhugold, Daringer and Tha God Fahim (also props to the UK’s Emily Catherine for the album’s ill cover art).

your old droog cover

A.J. Munson – “Cigarettes & Coffee” (AJMunson.BandCamp.Com) – Boasting an impressive list of guest artists. including Tha God Fahim, Mach-Hommy, Recognize Ali and more, West Coast producer A.J. Munson dropped this quality collection of true-school flavour geared towards the ears of those listeners who’re passionate about sample-based Hip-Hop.

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JayARE – “Youth Culture Power” (JayARE.BandCamp.Com) – True-school veterans J Rawls and John Robinson delivered some edutainment in the truest sense of the term, with this concept-based album being released in conjunction with the pair’s book, highlighting the potential benefits of utilising Hip-Hop in the classroom to engage students and improve teacher / pupil relationships. Each one, teach one.

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NDEFRU & Ohbliv – “Foreign Local” (NDEFRU.BandCamp.Com) – Further proof that Virginia is a strong breeding ground for dope Hip-Hop, this EP from emcee NDEFRU and producer Ohbliv was the sound of two individuals clearly on the same page musically, resulting in a thoroughly cohesive project packed with laidback-yet-confident wordplay and mellow, sample-heavy soundscapes.

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Sean Peng & Illinformed – “Trips To The Medicine Cabinet” (LostScrollRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Part entertainment, part therapy session, this project from Creatures Of Habit members Sean Peng and Illinformed was a lesson in creative chemistry, demonstrating the level of quality that can be achieved from the good old-fashioned one emcee / one producer combo. The Bristol emcee’s sometimes cryptic, always engaging rhymes were perfectly complimented by Illinformed’s solid, multi-layered style of production. Get your prescription renewed here.

Him Lo & Giallo Point – “OJ Glovez” (MarQSpekt.BandCamp.Com) – Having released two group projects in 2018, Him Lo and Clever 1 of Phillys Buze Bruvaz both decided to step out solo in 2019, with this EP being the first of four releases in total to come from the Illadelph duo throughout the year. Produced entirely by the UK’s Giallo Point, this was more of the punch-you-in-the-face-rap that Buze fans have come to expect, mixing hardcore threats and politically incorrect punchlines with inappropriate humour and old-school bravado.

DIE-REK – “The Dying Ones” (Illect.BandCamp.Com) – Canada’s DIE-REK channelled his spirituality throughout this self-produced collection of inspiring, life-affirming anthems, crafted to motivate and encourage anyone out there struggling to swim against the tide of today’s turbulent times. The Toronto emcee’s sincere, commanding flow added further weight to the sentiments and thoughts expressed here, with the end product leaving the listener feeling as if their Hip-Hop soul had been given a thorough musical massage.

C.A.M – “Just Breathe” (CAMOfficial.BandCamp.Com) – Following up his previous EP releases (2017’s “The First Move” and 2018’s “Persian Rugs”), talented London-based emcee C.A.M joined forces with Bristol music man BigLikeBaz for this five-track release, a well-crafted blend of head-nodding beats, echoing horns, smooth keys and a positive lyrical outlook.

Cor Stidak – “Dry Tears” (CorStidak.BandCamp) – Virginia-based emcee Cor Stidak showcased his undeniable microphone mastery throughout this largely self-produced EP, delivering competition-crushing verses, robust flows and poignant lyrical gems over a quality selection of beats.

The Jerzadelphians – “Era Of The Get Back” (JDelph.BandCamp.Com) – New Jersey emcee P-Rawb and Philly producer Shane Great demonstrated what a true musical partnership should sound like on this impressive release, channelling the spirit of the golden-era through their beats and rhymes whilst remaining fresh and in the moment.

Benny The Butcher – “The Plugs I Met” (GriseldaxFR.Com) – 2019 was definitely the year of the Griselda family, with Benny, Conway and Westside Gunn all releasing potent solo projects, along with their long-awaited group effort for Shady Records. This EP picked up where The Butcher left off on 2018’s classic “Tana Talk 3”, spitting vividly descriptive street life rhymes over raw, drama-laced production from Daringer, Beat Butcha, DJ Shay and The Alchemist.

Train Robbers – “Expect Delays” (RobbingTrains.BandCamp.Com) – UK duo Bucket Hat Jack and Casa Blanca ensured no listeners were left waiting on the platform as they were right on time with this lively EP, a release full of  mischievous, well-crafted verses and solid, chunky production. The project bubbled with the energy of two individuals whose main motivation for making music appeared to be the sheer joy and satisfaction of simply creating dope material. Mind the gap!

Skyzoo & Pete Rock – “Retropolitan” (MelloMusicGroup.BandCamp.Com) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Skyzoo is one of the greatest emcees of his generation. The Brooklyn artist’s attention to detail and ability to draw listeners into his world through the art of rhyme elevates him above many of his peers. No matter what walk of life you come from, there is something in a Skyzoo verse that you will be able to relate to.  Backed here by the soul brother beats of the legendary Pete Rock, Skyzoo delivered a full-length dedication to NYC, adding to his already impeccable catalogue of album projects.

Smif-N-Wessun – “The All” (DuckDownMusic.Com) – Bucktown’s Tek and Steele succeeded in releasing an album that was rooted in their mid-90s Timberlands-and-hoodies flavour whilst still reflecting the personal growth and present day perspectives of the Duck Down duo. Production from Jamla’s 9th Wonder-led Soul Council squad provided the project’s melodic thump, effectively complimenting the BK pair’s tag-team rude-bwoy rhymes, with the end result respectfully adding on to Smif-N-Wessun’s twenty-five year legacy.

Ketch P – “Gift Certificate” (KetchP.BandCamp.Com) – Veteran Detroit emcee and Street Justice member Ketch P returned from a six-year hiatus to deliver this free project, which was an extremely generous gesture considering the high quality of the material included here. Showcasing a strong pen game and an authoritative flow, the Middle Finger Music affiliate got busy over a strong selection of soulful boom-bap from the likes of Simple Cuts, Foul Mouth and Chanes.

Verb T & Pitch 92 – “A Question Of Time” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – Following up their  quality 2017 collabo album “Good Evening”, London lyricist Verb T and Manchester music man Pitch 92 joined forces once again for this equally dope project. An accomplished writer and one of UK Hip-Hop’s most consistent artists, Verb T once again successfully allowed the listener to see the world through his eyes, with the rapper’s introspective rhymes being complimented by the talented Pitch’s dynamic production.

Flashius Clayton & DirtyDiggs – “Fronto Fever Dreams” (FlashiusClayton.BandCamp.Com) – This heavily-anticipated project from Knuckle Sandwich Deli representative Flashius Clayton definitely didn’t disappoint, with the Cali emcee dropping razor-sharp rhymes over the dusty-fingered, sample-based soundscapes of DirtyDiggs, joined by the likes of Planet Asia, Lisaan’dro and AA Rashid – guard ya grill!

Brother Ali – “Secrets & Escapes” (BrotherAli.BandCamp.Com) – The mighty Brother Ali made a welcome return with this Evidence-produced collection of masterful, worldly lyricism and stripped-down beats, recorded over a few spontaneous sessions in a California garage studio during visits the Minneapolis emcee made to see the Dilated Peoples member.

Sparkplug – “The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth” (ColdCaseRecords.BandCamp.Com) – This full-length effort from Leeds-based emcee Sparkplug offered listeners an honest look into the life of an individual navigating his way through the everyday struggles of the human experience, embracing the small wins, owning personal shortcomings, dealing with disappointment and facing reality head-on with a self-deprecating sense of humour and a talent for sharp punchlines.

Part Three coming soon.


New Joint – Gang Starr

Gang Starr – “Bad Name” (@GangStarr / 2019)

String-laden boom-bap from Guru and Premier’s “One Of The Best Yet”.

New Joint – Gang Starr

Gang Starr – “Bad Name” (@GangStarr / 2019)

Another Guru / Premier sureshot off the forthcoming Gang Starr album “One Of The Best Yet”, featuring Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, Big Shug and more.

New Joint – Gang Starr / J. Cole

Gang Starr ft. J. Cole – “Family and Loyalty” (@GangStarr / 2019)

Fab 5 Freddy-directed visuals to accompany the recently-released single from the legendary duo of Guru (RIP!) and DJ Premier.

New Joint – Gang Starr / J. Cole

Gang Starr ft. J. Cole – “Family And Loyalty” (@GangStarr / 2019)

This lead single from the recently announced (yet unexpected) new Gang Starr album effortlessly sets the tone for the remainder of the project. Vintage Guru rhymes, sublime Preemo production, and a well-executed guest spot. RIP Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal. Gang Starr Forever!

Hard To Earn Remixes EP Stream – Amerigo Gazaway / Gang Starr

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Cali-based producer Amerigo Gazaway marks yesterday’s 24th anniversary of Gang Starr’s fourth album release “Hard To Earn” with a few impressive remixes – RIP Guru.

The Dirty Rotten Demos EP Stream – Jeru The Damaja

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Brooklyn’s mighty Jeru The Damaja has teamed-up with Slice Of Spice for a vinyl-only release of his early-90s Guru-produced demo tape.

New Joint – Domingo / Guru / Black Jesus

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Domingo ft. Guru & Black Jesus – “Major Game” (@BeatsByDomingo / 2015)

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of Gang Starr legend Guru’s untimely passing, NY producer Domingo digs in the vaults for this unreleased original version of a track featured on his 2007 album “The Most Underrated”.

Rest In Peace – Keith ‘Guru’ Elam

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With today marking the fifth anniversary of the tragic passing of the legendary Keith ‘Guru’ Elam, it’s only right that everyone who claims to love Hip-Hop takes a moment to reflect on the Boston-bred emcee’s timeless contributions to the culture.

Beyond the various interviews I did with him over the years, Guru was an individual I was privileged to be able to call a friend.

In my experience, which included numerous conversations both on and off the record, Guru always remained passionate about his craft, serious about his responsibility as an artist, and genuinely grateful to all who supported him.

Hip-Hop lost a true great on April 19th 2010.

RIP Guru – you’ll never be forgotten.

Gang Starr performing “Full Clip” in 1999 on BBC2’s “Later…With Jools Holland”

New Joint – Guru / Avrex / Big Shug

Guru ft. Avrex & Big Shug – “Propaganda” (Avrex.BandCamp.Com / 2015)

With this weekend marking five years since the tragic death of Gang Starr legend Guru, Virginia-based emcee Avrex, with the blessing of the Elam family, delivers visuals for this updated DJ Lord Ron-produced track.

Sales of the track (via Avrex’s BandCamp page) will be donated to Guru’s son K.C. Elam.

Rest In Peace – Keith ‘Guru’ Elam

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Four years ago today, on April 19th 2010, Hip-Hop lost one of the culture’s greatest talents when Gang Starr’s Guru passed away following a battle with cancer.

In the eighteen years that I’ve been writing about Hip-Hop for various magazines and websites, Guru remains one of the warmest, most genuine individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet, interview and also get to know as a person beyond the music.

The man literally lived, breathed and sweated Hip-Hop, always keen to discuss, debate and protect the art-form as he saw fit.

So today, pull out your favourite Gang Starr album, turn the volume up, and take a moment to remember the legend we knew as Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal.

Gang Starr Performing “Take It Personal” on Yo! MTV Raps In 1992.

New Joint – Marco Polo / Talib Kweli / DJ Premier

Marco Polo ft. Talib Kweli & DJ Premier – “G.U.R.U.” (Soulspazm / 2013)

Dope video for the Polo-produced tribute to one of the greatest emcees to ever touch the microphone from the forthcoming album “PA2: The Director’s Cut”.

New Joint – Verb T

Verb T – “Lost (Guru Tribute)” (High Focus Records / 2013)

Reflective rhymes from the talented UK emcee’s self-produced album “I Remain”.

Webisode #12 – Tony Touch / Guru / Kid Capri etc.

Tony Touch dusts off more 1999 studio footage recorded during the making of the “Power Cypha 3” project.

Keep Bouncin’ – DJ Doo Wop

Footage of Bounce Master and legendary mix-tape king DJ Doo Wop on Shade 45 discussing his personal Hip-Hop history, working with Guru and his “20 Years In The Game” concert.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

New Joint – Marco Polo / Talib Kweli / DJ Premier

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Marco Polo ft. Talib Kweli & DJ Premier – “G.U.R.U.” (Soulspazm Records / 2013)

With Friday April 19th being the third anniversary of Guru’s untimely passing, Marco Polo unveils this fitting tribute to the Gang Starr legend from his forthcoming album “PA2: The Director’s Cut”.

Hip-Hop Moments – MC Remedee (Cookie Crew)

MC Remedee of the UK’s Cookie Crew recalls working with Gang Starr legends Guru and DJ Premier as part of RawBlueCheeseTV’s “Hip-Hop Moments” series.

New Joint – Freestyle

Freestyle – “The Dedication: Gang Starr” (WhoIsFreestyle.Com / 2012)

The Arsonists member teams-up with producer Max Mostley of 83 Sound for this brilliant tribute to one of Hip-Hop’s greatest musical partnerships – RIP Guru.