R.I.P. Guru of Gangstarr

I can remember the sound of the horns blaring through a smoky room, a jazzy trumpet solo rearing up through the black wooden beams, cutting through the monotone rhymes, before letting a keyboard soloist take control of the sound… and finally trumpet, keyboard, drums and bass combine with the definitive voice to say “just be yourself and be so clear.”

That was a few years ago, at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado.  That was when we where a little younger, dumber, and inevitably, found ourselves intoxicated; riding a natural high as we felt the smooth beats sway the crowd.  That was just another “under ground hip hop concert” where we might have ended up dancing onstage with the MC, bumping and grinding on the floor, getting our posters autographed by some larger-than-life hip hop legend…. they were legends in our own minds, they were the stars of our own show, they were the proof that we had finally found some independence from mainstream society, from parents, from pop music, from innocence…

While I do not listen to Guru’s music as avidly as I once did, and I cannot remember the night that I saw him perform in vivid detail, his autographed poster is still up on the wall in my room.  I was saddened to hear of his death at age 43 (from cancer) on April 19, 2010, for, as one of the most influential rappers of his era, Guru of the legendary group Gang Starr.  Guru was both a legendary icon in the hip-hop world, known as the first artist to truly blend old school jazz beats with new lyrical rhyme hip hop.  He was also a citizen dedicated to social change and had established the non-profit “Each One Counts” which will continue to work on the behalf of disadvantaged, sick children.  The foundation raises funds used to promote research and provides grants on diseases  that affect around 50,000 U.S. children a year who die from painful diseases.

The non-profit group helps disadvantaged parents find proper care for their suffering children. The foundation reports that the need for this kind of assistance is important – less than 1 percent of American kids who need hospice care receive it.  This is an especially important issue to consider in light of the recent health care reform that would require all children to be insured.

One can hope that in the age of current hip hop stars that spit sensationalized rhymes filled with vulgarity, sex, drugs, and reference to violence, Guru’s visionary style, dedication to keeping a true, integral part of hip-hop, the “jazzmatazz” sound alive, and his charitable outreach to community will be remembered…

Some of Guru’s most memorable lyrics from his song “Moment of Truth”…

They say it’s lonely at the top, in whatever you do
You always gotta watch motherfuckers around you
Nobody’s invincible, no plan is foolproof
We all must meet our moment of truth

It’s universal, you play with fire it may hurt you
or burn you, lessons are blessings you should learn through

But just as you’ll receive what is comin to you
Everybody else is gonna get theirs too
I ain’t no saint, therefore I cannot dispute
That everyone must meet their moment of truth

Actions have reactions, don’t be quick to judge
You may not know the harships people don’t speak of
It’s best to step back, and observe with couth
For we all must meet our moment of truth

Sometimes you gotta dig deep, when problems come near
Don’t fear things get severe for everybody everywhere
Why do bad things happen, to good people?
Seems that life is just a constant war between good and evil
The situation that I’m facin, is mad amazin
to think such problems can arise from minor confrontations
Now I’m contemplatin in my bedroom pacin
Dark clouds over my head, my heart’s racin
Suicide? Nah, I’m not a foolish guy

Don’t even feel like drinking, or even gettin high
Cause all that’s gonna do really, is accelerate
the anxieties that I wish I could alleviate
But wait, I’ve been through a whole lot of other shit, before
So I oughta be able, to withstand some more
But I’m sweatin though, my eyes are turnin red and yo
I’m ready to lose my mind but instead I use my mind
I put down the knife, and take the bullets out my nine

My only crime, was that I’m too damn kind
And now some skanless motherfuckers wanna take what’s mine
But they can’t take the respect, that I’ve earned in my lifetime
And you know they’ll never stop the furious force of my rhymes
So like they say, every dog has its day
And like they say, God works in a mysterious way
So I pray, remembering the days of my youth
As I prepare to meet my moment of truth


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