On April 19, hip hop lost another legend. Gang Starr began their career in 1985 and while I was very, very young at the time, I became a huge fan of their conscious rhymes growing up.
One of the first songs that I ever heard by the group was “Take It Personal” which to this day is so much better than the current music saturating my radio dial. The hallmark of Guru’s rhyming was that he made it easy to understand him and did not use wording that made you scratch your head.
With Guru’s passing, I got to thinking – is the Universe giving us a sign that hip hop is dying, or rather perishing. I mean there are only a few rappers left (with the exception of the underground emcees) from the late 80s, early 90s period: Snoop, Nas, Common, Brand Nubian, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Cash Money, Wu-Tang and the one who calls himself HOVA. Of course, there are probably a few others but these are the ones that in essence made hip hop what it is now that have managed to hang on when other rappers and rap groups have fallen by the wayside.
One thing Guru offered to rap was a level of conscious thought that is indeed missing from rap these days. There was never a time that I heard him rap about cars, jewelry or how much money he had even on the flawless “Royalty,” which one would think would be all about diamonds on the neck or a play on sex. These are subjects that Guru strayed away from, or if he did spit on – leaned it towards his style.
The music of Guru will indeed live on as the music from the vocabulary artisans who’ve gone before him has, but I can’t help to think what more record gems he could have made if he was still here. There are of course those who had never heard of Guru before his departure from this Earth, who will now listen to his music and vibe to the melody of “Full Clip” or the anthemic “Code of the Streets” for the first time and that’s okay. Often times it takes something tragic to occur, before we realize what indeed we had.