Today marks five years since the passing of the emcee Keith “Guru” Elam. With a gruff voice and rhymes that straddled between street savvy thinking and awareness of the issues faced by Black people, he was a unique presence in Hip-Hop. Guru was best known for his consistent run with DJ Premier for over a decade as Gang Starr, pumping out classics like “Mass Appeal” and “Just To Get A Rep.” He brought Jazz and Hip-Hop together in his Jazzmatazz album series, which somewhat differed from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest in that he inserted Jazz musical sensibilities as well as instrumentation into what he was doing.
To celebrate the legacy of the late rapper, The Urban Daily wanted to pay respects to him in a different way and rounded up five times when Guru teamed up with some of his fellow lyricists in Hip-Hop. Here are some of the rarer tracks you may not have heard before.
Heavy D – “A Buncha N****s”
Additional Guests: Notorious B.I.G. (As Biggie Smalls), Guru, Rob-O, Third Eye, and Busta Rhymes.
On this track from Heavy D‘s less heralded album Blue Funk, he brings in a cadre of emcees that were hitting their stride at the time. The album also boasted a bit of production from DJ Premier, including a flip of a Gang Starr interlude for the track “Yes Yes Y’all.”
De La Soul – “Patti Dooke”
Additional Guests: Frank Wes, Fred Wesley, Guru, Larry Goldings, Maceo Parker, Melvin Parker, Pee Wee Ellis, and Rodney Jones.
Guru crossed paths with De La Soul on their Buhloone Mindstate album and provides the hook to this track about refusing to cross over to reach a larger audience. Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley of James Brown’s band were on this and several others tracks on the album, teaming up in a way not unlike Guru’s Jazzmatazz series.
Nice & Smooth – “Down The Line”
Additional Guests: Gang Starr, Preacher Earl, Asu, Melo T., and Bass Blaster.
Using the same sample as the remix of Gang Starr’s “Manifest,” the two duos joined together with several underground emcees for this lengthy collaboration cut. This precluded the second, and more famous pairing between the two groups, “DWYCK.”
Paul Nice – “Conflict (Remix)”
Additional Guests: Masta Ace and Guru.
This pairing of the two rappers representing Brooklyn was a bit overdue when it dropped in the late ’90s. Guru, who hailed from Boston, claimed the borough as his home in his music.
Digable Planets – “Borough Check”
Additional Guests: Alan Goldsher, 7 Karat, Beneficent, Crescents, The, Eye Cee, Lavish, Lee Love, and Stilletto.
Like Guru, neither Doodlebug nor Lady Mecca and Butterfly of Digable came from Brooklyn, but they repped the borough back when taxi drivers and tourists were scared to travel there. Mos Def fans might recognize the Roy Ayers sample as the same one he used on his own Brooklyn anthem.
Bonus Track: – “Proproganda”
Additional Guests: Guru, Avrex, and Big Shug.
Released yesterday for the five-year anniversary of Guru’s passing, this song has some of Guru’s old lyrics and add Avrex and founding Gang Starr member Big Shug to it. Proceeds from purchasing the song or t-shirts with “propaganda” written on them will go towards Guru’s son.
Street Scriptures: Five Non-Gang Starr Verses To Honor Guru’s Legacy was originally published on theurbandaily.com