News came out Tuesday morning, just in time for the morning drive shows, that Guru died sometime Monday. He was just 43.
Reports say it was due to complications from cancer — minus the heart attack I blogged about here. But what´s causing a stir for music fans isn´t the prognosis, but the unclear information about Guru’s relationship with his Gang Starr cohorts and a letter he wrote on his deathbed. Important matters considering this is a guy whose body of work helped shape hip-hop culture in the 1990s.
Being in Gang Starr is part of his legacy, and the legacy of NY/Boston hip-hop. An odd letter to fans, allegedly via Guru (one of those, if ¨If I die, make sure they get this¨, type of letters) , just opens up more questions about Guru’s relationship with his new music partner and his former DJ. Not to mention the shock most fans felt over a death too early. Too soon.
The letter calls Guru the sole creator of Gang Starr, and puts a big X over the name of DJ Premier. This whole thing is dragging Gang Starr´s name through the mud. It´s a shame. I can only think of Eazy-E and Too Poetic of Gravediggaz, as rappers who´ve died from natural causes, so early in their lives. Without the subsequent drama.
Still, many knew that Guru and Premier had a fall-out for unknown reasons some years back, when he started a controversial working relationship with hip-hop producer Solar (no relation to the French rapper).
I first learned about this riff back in 2007, when I interviewed Big Shug for thesmokingsection.net. In the interview, he mentions Solar and the rift between the original Gang Starr members.
It could just be internet chatter, but are you and Guru not on the best of terms right now?
Shug: Basically, Guru, manâ€¦he stepped off to do his own thing about three years ago. So me and Premier continue to represent for Gang Starr Foundation, what have you, and everything that sprouts from it. Like, Premiere has year-round records at Headquarters studio and I have Team Shug and some other various projects. We haven’t spoken to Guru in about three years, but that’s by his choice and he’s doing his new thing with his new producer. His name is like Suna Son, Solar or something.
So officially, Gang Starr doesn’t consist of Guru anymore?
Shug: I mean, it’s not functioning right now. Gang Starr will always be known as Guru and Premier, but they not together right now. I don’t know if they’ll ever be together again, but you can never rule things out. He’s just out there doing his new project with his producer named Clown Solar or something. I don’t know. He doing some clown shit.
You directing any lyrics at Guru on the new album.
Shug: It depends. On “Just Don’t Stop” I’m more or less talking about where cats is at with the music and how they sound better with Premier.
When you read the letter, it becomes clear: there was bad blood between Guru and friends.
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.
Check out DJ Premier´s weekly mix show on satellite radio. DJ Premier: Live From HeadQCourterz, Friday 10PM to Midnight (ET)