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For Some, #massappeal Isn’t Really That #hardtoearn



take God is Universal; he is the Ruler Universal for example. With a style and voice all his own. Leading the way with verbal truth and wisdom, teaching the youth that paid attention, that there was way more to life, through music…

I awoke this morning around 9:30 to the sun attempting to peek through any crack it could find in closed and louvered windows. I rolled over and wished Wifey a good morning then rolled the other direction and out of bed, placing both feet firmly on the carpet.
I stretched and plodded my way to the bathroom, for that much need relief after a good siesta. The night before, I left work at the normal time, got home from my long bus commute and tried to finish one of my assignments for my class which kept me up until the wee hours.
As I strolled past the kitchen, clad in my robe and slippers in search of nourishment, the thought struck me to check the school’s website to see if the Instructor had graded it yet. While sitting there I also decided to see what was up on Twitter for the day. I expected that since it is 4/20, most of the people I follow would either have something to say about the cultural observance or the fact that Little Brother dropped their long-awaited, final LP as a group today as well.

Instead, upon logging in, the Matrix quickly assaulted me with reports of Keith Elam‘s passing away on the 19th.

I sat back in my chair in shock and disbelief for a moment….maybe even two..

I was already aware that he had been ill, struggling with the scourge commonly known as cancer, for more than a year. I also knew that he had been hospitalized due to a heart attack and other complications back in March, slipping into a coma and undergoing surgery as well. It would have been hard for me not to know, as the inter-webs were a buzz with the news and thousands of well wishers in Twitter’s ever-growing music community were asking for and receiving status reports and updates about his condition before and after.

My Bookface page was utterly littered with status updates about Guru, internal FB messages hoping for his speedy recovery and various compilations by DJ’s of Gangstarr tracks.  I’m quite sure there will be many more now being created even as I type this.
I added my two pennies here and there on both social sites, then and today not only with my own good will about his health but on our BlipFM station as well, in hopes that playing his music would help me and those that listen to deal with the events.

As I sat there in my chair, in front of my PC, I reflected on the simple things I am now telling you about, that I and other people take for granted everyday.  The things that I still possess the free will to choose whether to do or not, someone who brought their conciousness in the form of music to me and countless others, now is unable to make those same choices.

I reflected on the music again and thought of how Guru & DJ Premier helped to shape my love of Jazz infused Hip-Hop in songs like:

Mass Appeal

and Knowledge of Self themes through other ones:


I clearly remembered seeing the video for that last song on Rap City and being astounded at the message in the music along with the visuals it displayed. Of course there were other groups and artists speaking on The Nation, F.O.I., Black Awareness and the like such as BDP, X-Clan, Public Enemy and Poor Righteous Teachers but I really can’t think of any other group during this time period that struck me in this way.

It must have been his voice coupled with Preemo’s soundscapes that just made me gravitate to it more. Growing up in NC during that time, there weren’t very many depictions of people dressed in suits and bow ties, wearing Kufi‘s upon their heads and speaking about these topics, so I would have to credit Gangstarr for sparking my interest in K.O.S.

I won’t touch on the subject about the now infamous “Last Words” letter that has been issued since his passing nor the outcry it has caused. I’m far removed from knowing what the real deal is and can only pray that they are in fact his words verbatim. It would certainly not bode well if it were to come to light that it has been falsified by another person

Just To Get A Rep

and to keep a former member of the group he helped to make famous out of any future affairs. Either way, Premier is handling it graciously and has even open up a place on his blog for those that wish to say something about Guru in his memory @

Sadly, Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal as well as Dorothy Height are now amongst the heavens and both worlds of Higher Education & Hip-Hop are now that much poorer for it.

In memory of him and to help readers reflect on their own experiences with his music, TSR is opening our archives and making the complete works of Gangstarr available to readers. As an added kicker, we’ve also included Guru’s Jazzmatazz 4 disc set as well. If you have none of their albums or were missing an LP or two, now is your chance to get your collection back in order.

At least get the Jazzmatazz series as its first disc is decidedly the classic and is IMHO opinion, predecessor and blueprint to the Hidden Beach Unwrapped series & Streetwize LP’s by at least eight years.

Be aware that we uploaded them all as separate files just in case someone just wanted a song or two but if you’d rather the whole LP as a WinZip file…well…Google is always your friend.

Gangstarr ShareDrive

Not sure how long the link will be up as it might get overloaded on traffic and we’re also hoping we don’t get a cease letter/email or anything like that, so get em while the getting is good. While you’re doing that, I’ll have this on repeat, reminiscing…



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