Guru, the influential rapper known for his intellectual themes, his monotone delivery and his combination of jazz sounds with hip-hop beats, has died after battling cancer, collaborators said. He was 43.
The world has lost "one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all time," according to a statement from Solar, Guru's producer.
The statement also features a letter Guru wrote before his death. In it, he thanks Solar for his friendship, speaks about his son KC and his nonprofit cancer organization, Each One Counts.
"I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting," it read.
Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, was born near Boston and later moved to New York. His first album as a member of Gang Starr, "No More Mr. Nice Guy," was released in 1989. They released more albums as a duo, including the gold-selling "Moment of Truth" in 1998.
The group's first hit was "Words I Manifest," which samples Miles Davis and Charlie Parker's "A Night In Tunisia." Other hits include "Dwyck," "Just to Get a Rep" and "Take It Personal." Guru moved on as a solo artist in 1993, releasing "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1," which featured a blend of jazz melodies and hip-hop sounds. He released four volumes of the "Jazzmatazz" series.