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Born Keith Elam, the rapper was well-respected in the industry for his rhyme style. He rose to fame in the 1980s as one half of the duo Gang Starr, in which he shared the spotlight with his partner, DJ Premier.
He later broke out and found solo success with his series of "Jazzmatazz" albums, where he combined hip-hop and jazz. His collaborations with jazz greats, including Branford Marsalis and Roy Ayers, helped cement Guru's reputation in the music industry.
Now, a statement from Elam's sister confirms that the letter cannot be authentic. Stopping short of referring to the words themselves, Patricia Elam confirmed that Guru never regained consciousness after lapsing into a coma in February. She said: "Guru suffered from multiple myeloma for over a year. Accrued complications from this illness led to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. As a result, Guru was in a coma from mid-February until his death and never regained consciousness.
Early on the morning of 19 April, he became hypertensive due to low blood pressure. He again went into cardiac arrest and slipped away from us. Guru died far too young but he was, and we are, proud of all his many musical contributions."
She added that while the family are not aware of any charitable foundations established by Guru, fans wanting to pay their respects could expect details soon of "a memorial event that will be all-inclusive".
But despite the controversy surrounding their alleged fractured relationship, Premier has issued his own statement honouring his former colleague and claiming the pair was planning to reunite for a seventh album.
He writes, "It was a sad day for me to get confirmation on the death of a man who I will continue to call my brother, Keith Elam, better known as Guru of the legendary Gang Starr... I've been asked to comment on a letter speaking ill of me which was supposedly written by Guru in his dying days. All I will say about it is that our time together was beautiful, we built a hip-hop legacy together, and no one can re-write history or take away my love for him... I love you Goo... DJ Premier."
Because I, like most everyone else, never heard these Guru solo records, I know Solar only as being 1) not the French rapper MC Solaar and 2) apparently the hip-hop equivalent of the creepy, defective Svengali types that circled Britney Spears during her doped-up Brian Wilson-y exile. After Guru's death, Solar released a posthumous letter of dubious authenticity that purported to be from Guru and essentially disavowed all his work with Gang Starr.