Gang Starr released six albums between 1989 and 2003, including the critically acclaimed 1998 album Moment of Truth. As a solo artist, Guru pioneered the idea of fusing jazz and hip-hop, creating his series of Jazzmatazz records that featured collaborations with Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, and Erykah Badu, among many others.
Born on July 17, 1961, the Massachusetts native burst onto hip-hop’s underground scene in the late 1980s. His rhymes were equal parts aggressive, uplifting, and witty.
Guru’s manager, Solar, released a statement confirming his artist’s death.
“The world has lost one of the best MCs and Hip-Hop icons of all-time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru,” he said. “Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.”
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter @EWMusicMix.)
More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Aerosmith reunited, ready to tour
Coachella 2010 Sunday: Gorillaz, Pavement, Thom Yorke close out the festival
Grace Jones vs. Lady Gaga: ‘I wouldn’t go to see her’
Ke$ha’s amazingly bland Saturday Night Live performances: Watch here
Academy of Country Music Awards: We live-blogged it!