DJ Premier is taking aim at the media for what he deems has been poor coverage of his former rhyme partner Guru (Keith Elam).
Earlier this month, Premier participated in a private memorial tribute held in Guru’s native Boston by his father, Judge Harry Elam. The legendary producer has maintained a good relationship with the family despite being estranged from Guru since their final album The Ownerz in 2003.
Solar, Guru’s controversial close friend and business partner for the last seven years, was not present at the memorial.
Premier, who worked with Guru for 14 years, was disturbed by the low media attention given to Guru’s two decade’s worth of musical contributions.
“It’s sad that all of these so-called Hip-Hop magazines did not give him a well-deserved cover when most emcees out now cannot construct rhymes, flows, and uniqueness and original contributions like he did for 22 years representing the culture,” Premier wrote on his blog. “We are always watching what the industry does to pay homage and respect our leaders of this rap shit. I will never forget it and there’s no excuse.”
At last month’s BET Awards, Guru was noticeably absent from the RIP Tribute that included other deceased stars like Teddy Pendergrass and Gary Coleman. Representatives later claimed that time constraints forced them to omit a planned video tribute to the late Gang Starr rapper.
“BET did the same thing by removing his shout out from the 2010 awards due to time issues. That shows you how much they use you and then they shit down your throat,” Premier accused. “All I do know is this; when it’s your turn to be remembered, we won’t forget about you. We give respect where it’s due.”
DJ Premier’s latest work can be heard on the Guru tribute song “I’m Gone,” off Fat Joe’s latest album The Darkside Vol. 1.
Guru’s legacy appears to be the victim of the TMZ era of journalism.
Guru’s death got significant coverage. But instead of it being a reflection on his past achievements, it was a detailed journey through his admittedly bizarre relationship with Solar. The music took a backseat as websites delved into the more tabloid-leaning topics like whether Guru and Solar were gay lovers, and if the rapper had been physically abused in that rumored relationship. Solar didn’t help by releasing almost daily statements that had to be countered by the Elam family and Premier.
Hip-Hop is still pretty homophobic concerning men. So even just the rumor of homosexuality appears to have made those who didn’t grow up on Guru reluctant to embrace his memory and find out more about him.
Even so, there were people as Premier pointed out like Pete Rock, MTV’s Sway, Ed Lover, Miss Info and others that honored Guru’s musical legacy. It will remain up to those who do recognize Guru’s achievements to not let his ending relationship with Solar define him, but have the man’s legacy shaped by his Gang Starr work and the Jazzmatazz series.
Guru’s posthumous respect may have started off with a whimper, but that doesn’t mean it can’t grow over time. Big L’s death in 1999 did not receive a huge amount of coverage. But in the 11 years since then, his musical legacy has grown and remained strong through the efforts of his friends like Premier and Lord Finesse.
Let’s hope we do the same for Guru.