Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, achieved fame in the late ‘80s when he and partner DJ Premier rose out of the New York rap scene as Gang Starr, resulting in six albums, including 1989’s No More Mr. Nice Guy and the 1991 release, Step Into The Arena. The last album released under the Gang Starr moniker was The Ownerz, which came out in 2003.

Evidently Guru knew his journey was coming to an end and wrote a letter to be released upon his death.

“I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life,” Guru wrote in his farewell epistle. “I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.”

Guru’s collaborator and partner, Solar, posted a statement on fansite, saying “The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all time.” Solo also noted Guru wanted to keep his condition private.

“Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle,” Solar wrote. “This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.”

Although Guru first gained national prominence as one-half of Gang Starr, he also achieved success with his Jazzmatazz series featuring collaborations with jazz artists, including Roy Ayers and Branford Marsalis. Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 was released in 1993.

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