In a tribute mix for the recently-departed Guru, DJ Premier and rapper Big Shug were among those who spoke on the emcee.
DJ Premier described his visit to Guru in the hospital, who had been in a coma for some time. “When I saw Guru, it just really fucked me up. I wore a Gang Starr shirt, first of all, just for the energy, and jus so he knew that’s forever with us. Forever.”
Premier debunked any possibilty that Guru may have woken up, and opined that he wasn’t being well-taken care of. “From what I was hearing – him waking up, and writing and tweeting…there’s no way! There’s no way! We saw him – he looked so gone! And if you love him, and you’re care of him, why in the fuck did his nails look longer than a fucking ruler? [And he had a] clump afro. I’ve taken care of people in the hospital. You can wash their head, you can clean their nails up, clean their feet. His feet were swollen, and his toenails were really disgusting. So because of that, it really fucked me up.”
Preemo described his final gestures to Guru, as well. “I took the logo off my shirt, and rubbed it against his whole body…and I told him a message from me about how much I loved him, and we were for life, and we are still for life. And then I kissed him on the face to let him know that I was gonna miss him, because it seemed like he was already gone. All the tubes and respirators, I witnessed that.”
Big Shug, one of the original members of Gang Starr, also spoke about Guru and detailed the origins of the group’s name. “I wanted to be called ‘Gangsters’ because I was a really street dude back then, but Guru said…it might be a little scary because they were scared of Hip Hop [since it was] was still new. So I said ‘Okay, well…since I represent the gang…and you were kinda like a star because you were educated, a cleaner dude in that regard, we could be ‘Gang Starr.’ And he said, ‘That’s dope. We could be ‘Gang Starr.'”
Shug also explained the symbolism behind the Gang Starr symbol. “When you see the original star and the chain, that’s what it represented. The star is Guru shining – intelligent, educated – and the chain stood for me being like a gang representative.”
In his closing words, Big Shug offered some kind thoughts about his departed friend. “I’ll always respect and treasure Keith, Guru. When we started out…he didn’t rap. He was just an educated brother. I really taught him…until he really got it. And we always said…if one of us made it, we’d come back and get the other. So he stayed true to his word on that part. And because of that, I was able to see the world, and see things I never saw.”
Listen to the Keith “Guru” Elam Tribute Mix by DJ Premier here.