Putting together a concise, factual and sterling overview of Guru's life and times, John Caramanica of the NYTimes writes up an bio-Obituary type piece that in many ways I find fitting and properly done...
-BIG D O
Together, Guru and DJ Premier made archetypal East Coast rap, sharp-edged but not aggressive, full of clear-eyed storytelling and suavely executed, dusty sample-driven production. In the early 1990s, as hip-hop was developing into a significant commercial force, Gang Starr remained committedly anti-ostentatious. As a lyricist, Guru was often a weary moralist weighed down by the tragedy surrounding him, though the group’s music was almost always life-affirming, never curmudgeonly.
From a young age, Guru had been “creative like crazy,” his sister Tricia Elam said. “Dynamic and curious, eager and ambitious.” But his artistic impulses didn’t neatly line up with his middle-class upbringing.
Guru’s father, Harry Elam, was the first black judge in the Boston municipal courts, and his mother, Barbara, was the co-director of library programs in the Boston public school system. Before beginning his rap career in earnest, Guru graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1983 and took graduate classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. He worked briefly as a social worker.
Leaving school to pursue a rap career flummoxed his family, said Guru’s brother, Harry Jr. “I was on my way to becoming a professor, and my brother is dropping out of grad school, and I’m saying, ‘What are you doing?’ But he believed in it and followed it through.”
Read the full piece here