Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: RIP Guru

Guru was a legend. As hip hop ages we will continue to lose so many more. Time is unkind, but it is fair. But I must say, as tragic as Guru's loss is, it is oddly redeeming and welcome that he died of a disease as opposed to being killed in some street level nonsense. It seems like more grown folk business.

DJ Premier will certainly keep the Gang Starr legacy alive. Guru--gifted universal rhymes unlimited--will live on in song. Although I can be a bit of a Luddite, and have bemoaned the rise of digital DJ culture where any talentless hack with an Ipod and a Mac can claim to be a "DJ" because of Serato, the Internet has allowed us to relive moments once lost to time (unless you happen to find a very lucky tape trader). To point, Mixcloud's wonderful archive.

In honor of Guru and Gang Starr here is a trip down memory lane: Primo on the one's and two's on WBLS circa 1994. Random thought: am I the only one who loved going to The Shadow on Friday and The Tunnel on Sunday night? Second random thought: for folks out there who were dj's before the rise of Cd's and mp3's, did you study folks like Primo, Red Alert, and Funkmaster Flex (back when he was actually great before the lust for tv, Lugz, and branding took over) and tried to replicate their sets and transitions?


Anonymous said...

I met Guru in North London in 1998 and he was just a humble dude who really welcomed loyal fans on the random. It was at a concert Tim Westwood put on (TW being sorta like a white English version of a Funkmaster Flex at the time). I had heard Guru on Westwood's radio show promoting the concert for later that night. There was a trivia question that nobody could get--I think it was as a result of the limited circulation of Gang Starr's type of hip hop in London during the early 90s-- about which video was Gang Starr's first. I ran up on Guru at the show after he performed and told him Positivity was the video that the Londoners couldnt call to mind (reflecting all the hip hop knowledge conferred upon me by Red Alert and Ralph McDaniels over the years), and confessed that I was a long time fan, for which he gave me a pound and bought me a drink.

Outside of my personal interaction with Guru, from the first I was blown away by anything Gang Starr put out. Surely as a beat fiend, Premier had me all in the liner notes of every album, and for many he was the star of the group, even for me at times. But Guru was a quiet talent, whose voice perfectly matched the beats Premo put out. He was the kind of artist that you could describe as having a slow burn. And definitely I was sad to hear the news that his fire went out for good on Monday. The ugliness of the reports on the internets about his break with Premo and his supposed "dying declaration" that Premo not be involved in any memorials is also really questionable...

But either way, thanks for the post and definitely for the throwback to Premo's radio show--I was a radio junkie back in the day (not like now with the advent of Clear Channel and bad hip hop), so it was good to reminisce about a better time, at least for me and my ears...

RIP Guru.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

They were an amazing group. I do wonder and hope how many "mainstream" fans even know about Gang Starr amongst all the Gucci's, Waynes, Jeezey's Boozy's, etc. ect. minstrel crap hoppers who have taken over?

There is a world of music at folks fingertips but there are no real gatekeepers anymore--see Clear Channel--and the internet is too democratic in my opinion--so the cream does not always rise to the top.

Great memory though.