Since Gang Starr’s split in the nineties, Guru’s partner DJ Premier went on to earn acclaim as one of the best beatmakers in hip hop. Premo worked with the best MCs in the game, made classics with Jay-Z, Nas, B.I.G. and many others.
Guru was never one of those best MCs. But he slogged on, a hip hop workhorse, who respected the art for what it was and did it to the best of his ability.
And that is why even if he wasn’t one of the best MCs, he was one of the best-respected. Because for all his adult life, Baldhead Slick epitomized the purest parts of the game. No shiny suits, no fake drug-dealer personas, no bling-boasts, just stepping up, claiming you are good, and backing up those claims with 16 dope bars. The monotone never slacked, and his rhymes only got keener and sharper with time. He was an artist at it, always innovating and creating and believing.
He occasionally made a conscious-rap statement, and he would sometimes spin a cautionary crime tale, flirt with Erykah Badu, soliloquize while Herbie Hancock plinked along, stroll the city with Isaac Hayes, lob punchlines around with Freddie Foxx and Jadakiss, but it never came across as a game. You always got the sense that he took this stuff seriously. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes a musician is bigger than a song, bigger than just a few hits; if an artist is about what his entire body of work means to his audience, then even though Guru wasn’t the greatest rapper, he was certainly one of the greatest musicians the genre of hip hop has seen.
By Ernest Bazanye
The writer used to call himself Guru Junior in order to impress the ladies