Guru (rapper): Wikis


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Background information
Born July 17, 1966 (age 43)
Origin Roxbury, Massachusetts
Genres Hip Hop, Jazz
Occupations Rapper, Producer
Years active 1987-present
Labels Wild Pitch/EMI Records (1987–1990)
Chrysalis/EMI Records (1990–1995)
Virgin/EMI Records (1995–2003)
Ill Kid Records (1995-2005)
7 Grand (2003–?)
Associated acts DJ Premier, Gang Starr, Gang Starr Foundation, Krumbsnatcha, Mr. Lif, MC Solaar, M.O.P., Solar

Keith Elam (born July 17, 1966), better known by his stage name Guru, is an American rapper and member of the hip-hop duo Gang Starr. Born in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury,[note 1] he is known for delivering complex lyrics in a unique monotone style. Members of the hip-hop community consider him to be one of the pioneers of hip hop-jazz crossover. The name Guru is a backronym that stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal and the less often used God is Universal; he is the Ruler Universal, which are both references to the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths.

On February 28, 2010, Guru suffered a cardiac arrest, on March 2, he was reported to be recovering after surgery.[1][2] On March 3, a press release to said that he had woken from his coma.[3]



Founded in 1987, Gang Starr built a sizable following in the early 1990s, releasing classic albums such as Step in the Arena (1991) and Daily Operation (1992). Guru's lyrical style is based on battle rhymes delivered smoothly, modestly, and with sly wit; he typically avoids using overwhelming charisma, focusing instead on his rhyming ability, which developed into his trademark monotone style.[citation needed] Over the years he has even been a mentor to younger emcees, including Jeru the Damaja. He is credited with DJ Premier for being the executive producers of Jeru's debut, The Sun Rises in the East (1994).

In 1993, he released his first solo album, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1. The album featured collaborations with Donald Byrd, N'Dea Davenport and Roy Ayers, while his second LP, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality, featured Ramsey Lewis, Branford Marsalis and Jamiroquai. The Jazzmatazz albums are commonly considered some of the best rap of the early 90s, Guru's reputation was also bolstered through the continued success of Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul (2000) and Baldhead Slick & Da Click (2001).

Moreover, recent Gang Starr albums have continued to garner Guru critical acclaim. Prominent Boston underground rapper Mr. Lif frequently cites Guru as a major stylistic influence; he appears as a guest with Lif on the Perceptionists' debut album, Black Dialogue (2005).

Besides Gang Starr, his Jazzmatazz and solo albums, Guru has collaborated with countless artists since the early 90s. Not only in hiphop, but also with artists from various genres such as pop, electronica/dance, acid jazz and even brass bands.

His "first proper solo album", in his own words, was Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures (2005), released with the help of producer and new backup MC Solar (who is not to be confused with MC Solaar from France). The album reached #1 on the college hip-hop charts, but was a failure with both fans and critics. It still managed to sell relatively well for an independent release.

Guru's latest project is the fourth installment in the Jazzmatazz series, entirely produced by Solar. It was released in early June 2007. May 19, 2008 Guru and Solar released Guru 8.0: Lost And Found. All the projects produced by Solar were met with mixed but generally negative reviews by Critics and fans, yet Guru states he will not work with DJ Premier again.[4]

Gang Starr's current status and future are unknown. Guru is currently living in Jersey City, NJ and frequents Newport Skates in downtown Jersey City.


Gang Starr albums are listed in the group's main article.

Jazzmatazz Albums

Album information
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
  • Released: May 18, 1993
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #94
  • UK chart position: #58
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #15
  • Singles: "Trust Me", "Loungin'", "No Time To Play" & "Le Bien, Le Mal"
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality
  • Released: July 18, 1995
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #71
  • UK chart position: #12
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #16
  • Singles: "Watch What You Say" & "Livin' In This World"
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
  • Released: September 26, 2000
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #32
  • UK chart position: #74
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #8
  • UK chart position: #74
  • Singles: "Keep Your Worries", "Lift Your Fist", "Certified" & "Supa Love"
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future
  • Released: June 5, 2007
  • Billboard 200 chart position: N/A
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #45
  • Singles: "State Of Clarity"

Label Compilation (Various Artists)

Album information
Guru Presents Ill Kid Records
  • Released: 1995
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: -

Baldhead Slick All Star Album

Album information
Baldhead Slick & Da Click
  • Released: September 25, 2001
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #122
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #22
  • Singles: "Where's Our Money?!/In Here" & "Cry/Pimp Shit"

Solo Albums

Album information
Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures
  • Released: May 10, 2005
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #54
  • Singles: "Cave In", "Step In The Arena 2" & "Hood Dreamin"
Guru 8.0: Lost and Found
  • Released: May 19, 2009
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "Divine Rule", "Fastlane", "Ride", "After Time & "No Gimmick Sh*t"

Featured Singles

Slightly Stoopid did a collaboration with Guru on their 2006 album Chronchitis. The song is called The Otherside.


  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories 2005 as 8-Ball
  • Kung Faux 2003 as Voice Over/Various
  • Urban Massacre 2002 as Cereal Killah
  • Grand Theft Auto III 2001 as 8-Ball
  • 3 A.M. 2001 as Hook-Off
  • Train Ride 2000 as Jay
  • The Substitute 2: School's Out 1998 as Little B.
  • Who's the Man? 1993 as Martin Lorenzo


  1. ^ Several seemingly reliable sources state that he was born in 1966, e.g. Birchmeier, Jason "Gang Starr Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation, and "Afternoon Fix: Celebrity Birthdays", MTV, retrieved 23 September 2008


  1. ^ "UPDATE: Guru Surgery Successful; Full Recovery Expected". March 2, 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Faraone, Chris (3 March 2010). “Hip-hop Legend [the] Guru out of Coma, Issues Press Release. The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved from on March 5, 2010.
  4. ^

External links


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