This exclusive tribute mix remembering the life and legacy of the late MC, Guru comes from NYC turntable legend and Dubspot DJ Instructor OBaH, who has been holding down a soulful corner of the NYC DJ scene for some time now.
Remembering Guru’s Legacy
Poetry over beats, excuse me… poetry over really dope beats. That’s how I would describe Guru if asked. In a hip hop sea flooded with emcee’s, there is only a handful of lyricists I believe earn the title of “lyrical poet.” Keith Elam, better known to us all as Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal aka Guru, lost his battle with cancer on April 19th, 2010. He was only 48 years old. Not too many people were aware that Guru was fighting cancer during the final year of his life. He will surely be missed by hip hop fans worldwide. But I’m not here to dwell on his untimely death; I’d rather celebrate the legacy he has left behind for all of us to enjoy.
Guru established Gang Starr in 1987, and I’ve been a fan of from day one. Gang Starr entered my life at a special time when I began gravitating towards music and really starting to appreciate it for what it was, what it represented, and how it sounded. The music I came to love at this time was jazz, funk, rock, soul, and most notably hip hop. I say most notably because the other genres were more personal loves, acquired from my DJ father’s epic record collection.
Hip hop was the mainstream juggernaut that I and everyone around me was gettin’ down too. A couple of the album’s I had on heavy rotation at this time where ‘Step in the Arena’ and ‘Daily Operation’ by Gang Starr. Pure classics! The chemistry between Guru and DJ Premier is undeniable. Premier’s hard edged, jazz and funk sampled beats coupled with Guru’s smooth vocal tone and poetic rhyme skills is like butter on toast. For me it was the best of both worlds. Gang Starr released six albums all together. My all time favorites are ‘Moment of Truth’ and ‘Hard to Earn.’
Guru was born in Roxbury, Mass. and DJ Premier is from Houston, Texas. Individually they moved to New York in post college days, and would eventually hook up as members of Gang Starr. They ended up moving to East New York, which I loved because I grew up in E.N.Y. (didn’t live there when they emerged on the scene). Gang Starr featured other lesser-known members beside Guru and DJ Premier such as Jeru The Damaja and Group Home to name a few. While Gang Starr never achieved mega stardom, the legacy and influence of their music can be heard far and wide throughout hip hop. Just look at artists like Madlib, J Dilla, Jay Electronica… man, the influence is heavy.
Aside from Gang Starr, Guru also released ‘Jazzmatazz,’ volumes one through four. On the ‘Jazzmatazz’ series, Guru collaborates with a wide range of talented musicians and vocalists. My top picks would be Volume One and Volume Four. As a pro DJ, I’m more than happy and willing to spin classics like ‘Just To Get A Rep,’ ‘Dwyck,’ ‘Mass Appeal,’ ‘Full Clip,’ ‘Loungin,’ ‘You Know My Steez’… I could go on. Aside from the blatant quality of Gang Starr and Guru’s music, one quality that can’t be overlooked is the fact that their entire catalog is laced with dope music that does not promote violence, materialism, pimp fantasies, or rampant foul language. For a lot of hip hop acts, those features are like air and water, can’t survive without it… or better yet, can’t make quality music without it. So the next time you’re at a party and the DJ throws on a Gang Starr or Guru joint, put that drink in the air, or two fingers, and show Guru the love and respect he showed us through his music. Rest in Peace!
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In the power of words from a true lyrical poet taken from ‘Moment of Truth,’ on the ‘What I’m Here 4′ album:
“While some choose greed, I choose to plant seeds, for your mental… spirit and physical temple. Bob your head to it, there’s the water you’ve been lead to it, bathe in it, a long time you’ve been cravin it. Prance to it, use your third eye and glance through it. Your state of being, becoming advanced through it, while others rhyme with no reason I be breezin.” – Guru
About DJ OBaH
OBaH turned a family legacy into a profession, becoming a rising industry music producer and highly sought after NYC DJ. OBaH stands for Oldskool Beats and Harmonies for a very good reason: he’s the son of veteran NYC DJ, Musician, Professor, and activist Baba Chico. Growing up, OBaH had the world’s best funk, jazz, and soul records at his fingertips. Armed with his father’s epic library of music, OBaH quickly made his mark on the NYC club scene, becoming the resident DJ at several nightclubs in his native Brooklyn.
Quickly gaining respect and a solid fan base, his first big break came courtesy of world-renowned DJ, Rich Medina, who invited OBaH to spin at his weekly party at the legendary (now defunct) APT nightclub in the Meatpacking district of NYC. Since then, OBaH has spun in well over 75 venues in NYC, across the U.S. and abroad, has DJ’d private parties for Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, JAY-Z, Donna Karan, and many other A-list celebrities. His talents have also been commissioned by brands including Louis Vuitton, Vogue magazine, Diesel clothing, and Puma. He has performed for cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, L.A.’s Grammy Museum, Tribeca Film Festival, Fall for Dance Festival, as well as live performances by hip hop legends KRS-ONE, Brand Nubian, and deep list of international bands and acclaimed DJ’s. In 2010 and 2011 OBaH represented NY as the resident DJ for the “New York Stage” of Czech Republic’s largest music festival “Colours of Ostrava”, where he provided opening, closing, and after party sets for a host of International artists including Roy Ayers, Tortured Soul, Don Blackman, and Electric Wire Hustle to name a few.
While OBaH continues to spin on a weekly basis in NYC, he is also fast at work producing remixes as well as original compositions for television and film. Several of his tracks have been featured on networks including MTV, Bravo, HBO, NBC, and A&E. NYC based production company Interloc Films has also enlisted OBaH to work as music supervisor for their first film, Wilde’Beast. He has also recorded an exclusive mix for Time Out NY’s “Homespun Sessions” which highlights premier DJ’s from across the globe. In 2008, Dubspot records released “Funk Aid for Africa” which was compiled, mixed, and executive produced by OBaH. The compilation was highly acclaimed and was a charitable success helping to raise money for NextAid. In addition, his remix for ESL recording artist Ocote Soul Sounds landed him a full page feature article in DJ Times magazine in March 2010. OBaH also participated in a national coast to coast tour supporting that release and is working on a follow-up compilation. OBaH’s debut EP “Cross Fade” was released in March 2014 and garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from tastemakers and press (Vibe.com, OkayFuture, and DMConline). In October of 2014, OBaH made his off-Broadway theatrical debut starring in “A Sucker Emcee” at the famed Labyrinth Theater, performing alongside the illustrious and acclaimed poet Craig “Mums” Grant (HBO “Oz”). OBaH has also worked as associate music director and understudy to DJ Rich Medina.
OBaH can also be heard on the Giant Step Jukebox. His show “Recycled Funk” is archived on their site. When he isn’t rocking the party himself, he’s teaching aspiring DJ’s the craft as a senior staff instructor at Dubspot, NYC’s preeminent electronic music production and DJ school. As a Dubspot DJ Instructor, OBaH has made two appearances on the BET network (106 & Park, The Pullup) as well as media in Brazil and France. He takes his “formative education” with him wherever he goes.
Connect with OBaH on Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | Website
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