I admit that I was never really into Guru as an MC. I didn't follow much of his work post-Gang Starr and thought that his Jazzamatazz series was a mixed bag.
For whatever reason, his output with DJ Premier was potent and I can't really put my finger on why the duo worked so well together, or how they managed to put out banger after banger. Guru and Primo were simply meant to put out music together. The dissolution of the group was a tragic thing.
The sobering news of Guru's passing had me thumbing through my mental catalog of his best material and these jumped out at me:
"Skillz" - From Gang Starr's final album together The Ownerz. It's the crispest I've ever heard Guru and his lyrical work and cadence over Premier's amazing track is just ridiculous. Guru kills it on this.
"Above The Clouds" feat. Inspectah Deck - One of the greatest Gang Starr tracks of all time, from The Moment of Truth. Guru again delivers and manages to keep up with INS, who drops quotable after quotable on this. And DJ Premier, what more can I say.
"The ? Remains" - I always loved this for Premier's minimalist approach for the track. But Guru's distinct vocal tone and stream-of-conscious flow give this track a heightened effect.
I could go on but Matthew Africa put together a treat that does the Gang Starr catalog justice.
Oliver Wang's Keith "Guru" Elam LA Times obituary.
DJ Premier speaks on Guru
Peter Rosenberg and Cypha Sounds discuss the validity of Guru's supposed "last official statement" to the masses on Hot 97 (courtesy of Nahright). I've followed some of this story when news broke about Guru's cardiac arrest that ultimately lead to his coma and that Solar dude just comes off as a very sheisty individual.