Back in the 1980s, Bonz Malone was one of the very first hip-hop journalists to seize a place in the mainstream media, writing for Spin and the Village Voice. In later years, Malone moved in to the record business (he was the A&R man who first signed Mobb Deep) and film (he appeared in the movie, “Slam.”) In this TheUrbanDaily exclusive, Bonz Malone dishes out his thoughts about the death of legendary rapper Guru, the man he knew personally as Keith.
When I first heard Keith spit I never found him to be a dynamic MC, however from that moment I was impressed with his delivery, baritone voice, and particularly the honesty in his rhymes. It was back in ’89 when we were getting high at DND studios when I first hung out with Keith. He and Premier were working on some joints for their forthcoming album. I already knew his partner from industry conventions like New Music Seminar and CMJ. Plus he was from Fort Green and he was “Good Money” in the ‘hood.
But Keith was from Boston, and back then, gangs ran Brooklyn. He, like so many of us, had to pay a price just to get a rep in the streets. Decepticons controlled many of the high schools and neighborhoods. Word on the street was that Guru from Gangstarr was “banged” into the territory that he talked about. But he never talked about that. He kept it “100” with the streets and the streets kept it real with him.
Years later, Mobb Deep was signed to Island Records. Every summer there was a convention in Atlanta called, “Jack the Rapper.” We went down there and a beef ensued in the hotel lobby. Guru and the Group Home held down Prodigy and Havoc who was about to snuff some kids from L.A.
A few lines ago, I had mentioned some things that impressed me about him, but the word I left out is “heart.” This is why I’ve been struggling with Guru’s life more than his death. He survived a gang initiation; he’s supposed to beat the s**t out of cancer. Like you, I’ve heard very disappointing accusations surrounding his demise. All kinds of people are making unfounded and homophobic comments without first-hand knowledge of anything.
Who cares if my friend was gay? He was a cool m**********r who’d come to check us on St. James and blow an el. He was always good for a bottle and intelligent conversation. But it seems he lost the thing I admired most about him, his heart. He made serious mistakes, but I don’t believe for a second that he wrote that letter. The wording was too spiteful and vile for him to say. Out of them both, Solar embodies that bitterness and negativity.
Keith, unfortunately, made the same mistake with Solar that David Mays, the founder of The Source, made with Benzino. It was a terrible choice that, unfortunately, killed him years ago. Obviously, he forgot that “a thug is a GANG STARR’s flunky, not the other way around!” Now their era is over, but never forgotten. Regardless of how you feel about Guru personally, he has contributed to many of the most classic joints hip-hop has ever known. He had the privilege to work with a true super-producer. And it ain’t Solar.
Check out our coverage of the controversy surrounding Guru’s last months.
RELATED: Solar Was Guru’s Abusive Gay Lover?