Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul -15yr Anniversary: MC Keithy or as we know him – Guru, passed away in April 2010 after going into cardiac arrest following a surgery. Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal was the acronym the Roxbury Mass native went by and the rhymes he delivered sure fit the bill. He grew up in a house where work ethic was important, his father was a judge and his mother the co-director of the Boston public libraries. After high school, Keith Edward Elam worked briefly in social services before taking grad classes at the Fashion Institute of Tech in Manhattan. While a graduate degree was something he was working towards, his love for music and rhyming became too much. He dropped out of the Fashion Institute of Tech to pursue a hip hop career. At the time, he went by the moniker MC Keithy but eventually changed his name to the anagram Guru. In 1987 he founded Gang Starr and released 3 records produced by DJ Mark the 45 King thru Wild Pitch Records. The albums didn’t generate much attention, and some changes to the roster resulted in beat maker extraordinaire DJ Premier joining the group. They dropped their first collab LP called “No More Mr. Nice Guy” in 1989. They followed this up with a number of albums all gaining momentum as the years passed. It wasn’t till “Moment of Truth” and “Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr”, both certified gold in the US, that made the two everyday names in the hip hop industry.
In 1993 Guru dropped the first of 4 solo albums featuring a collaboration of Jazz and Hip hop. Jazzmatazz Volume 1 featured Donald Byrd, N’Dea Davenport, MC Solaar, and Roy Ayers and was favorably received. Vol 2 of the Jazzmatazz series featured Chaka Khan, Ramsey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, and Jamiroquai. It was his Jazzmatazz, Volume 3: Streetsoul that outperformed all the others after it dropped October 3rd 2000. The decline in sales were evident from vol 1 – vol 2, but the 3rd blew those two out of the water. It peaked at #32 on the Billboard for R&B albums and #8 for Hip Hop albums. Tracks featured Angie Stone, Donnell Jones, Macy Gray, Bilal, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Amel Larrieux, Kelis, Crag David, Big Shug, Isaac Hayes, Les Nubians, Prodigal Sun, Junior Reid, Bobbi Humphrey, Melody Davis and Herbie Hancock. Just the personnel that assisted on the album was incredible- the lineup included ?uestlove, Black Thought, DJ Premier, Pharrell Williams, The Neptunes & J Dilla. It’s been 5 years since we lost Guru, and this album stands as a showcase for the talent and wisdom that G.ifted U.nlimited R.hymes U.niversal brought forth in his music. He will be forever missed!