Thursday, April 29, 2010

Souled On Samples: Above The Clouds Edition

Peace soul babies~ comment allez-vous?

There's nothing I dislike more as a writer than attempting to eulogize a musician I admire who's passed into the great beyond. It's difficult enough to generate the proper flow when reminiscing about a session player that no one's ever heard of, but when iconic artists take their last breath, the odds of uttering anything unique or original are savagely diminished.

Such was the case when
Guru transitioned into the fourth dimension early last week. Even websites and publications that typically have no regard for hip hop were comin' through with articles chronicling the MC's life and death. After a while, the media saturation and sensationalism became too much to bear. I didn't want to heap one more useless commentary onto the literary junk pile, but children...this man's work has been a staple in my life for 20 long years. It seemed unconscionable not to present something in the way of a tribute, so I eventually sat down on the front stoop with a pen and pad.

What emerged wasn't exactly what I had expected. I quickly rejected the comforts of writing a third-person narrative, and started drafting a letter to the man himself. As I was writing, a barrage of Guru-related song/album titles started rushing to the forefront of my imagination. Instead of relegating them to my subconscious, I started integrating them into the framework of my letter. For those who may be less familiar with his material, I highlighted the titles in bold.

The process certainly wasn't without its stumbling blocks (never did figure out how the hell to work "Dwyck" into the equation), but I have to say it was a cathartic endeavor regardless. I tried to keep things as open and honest as I would if I had been writing to a friend. As such, I hope you won't judge the letter by literary standards~ it's more of a soul-driven freestyle than an exercise in cerebral gymnastics.

I'm punctuating the post with a few of my favorite Guru/Gang Starr samples for your digging pleasure. I've posted a few of them over the years, but good music always bears repeating.

Until next time, easy and live life to the fullest...Scholar

Peace, brother Guru~ these humble words are for you...

It's been a little over a week since black Monday, the day you departed the planet and took a transit ride to the flip side of conscious reality. Trust me, man...those you left behind are struggling to bring some positivity to the situation of your death, rendering respectful dedications and looking through the darkness for guidance as we collectively grieve the loss of one of the illest brothers to ever bless the microphone.

Your absence is still beyond comprehension~ it's 2 deep to contend with the reality of how hastily our loved ones can be here today, gone tomorrow. Even those equipped with mad knowledge of self, who understand that the cycle of life is a never ending saga, struggle to be stoic in the face of death. Many of us have been listening to your records since we were babies, so now that you're gone it's hard not to take it personal. Living in this world is never more hectic than when we lose family, friends, and those who inspire us to rise above everyday circumstances. Our hearts are heavy, my brother, and your signature question endures...who's gonna take the weight?

It's impossible to explain to the unknowing how deeply your fans feel the music, and why our oath to respect the architect has formed such an unyielding common bond. With you travelling 2 steps ahead of rival MCs and DJ Premier in deep concentration, Gang Starr steadily rose through the ranks to become undisputed hip hop royalty. Most historians of the genre concur that Premier and the Guru dropped one classic album after another, making a mockery of silly scam artists who did it all 4 tha ca$h or just to get a rep. Because the two of you had skills and so much heart, you were able to step into the arena and achieve a level of credibility and mass appeal that is ridiculously hard to earn.

The words I manifest in this eulogy signify nothing if not gratitude and the utmost respect, but an uncomfortable moment of truth does seem to be in order. I'm not sure whether or not this is how you see things from the sky, but check it...your man Solar has officially become the Yoko fuckin' Ono of hip hop. There's no shame in my game and I'm not afraid to say it~ dude has been instrumental in every ill-advised personal and work-related decision you've rendered these past few years. Right up to the point of your departure from Earth, it seems as though there's been some sort of sabotage, betrayal, or behind-the-scenes conspiracy involved.

The deathbed letter that Solar is peddling to the masses understandably has us vexed, hexed and deeply perplexed. Unlike the lyrics you spit that we internalized and committed to memory, the words you allegedly wrote in your final days don't seem to be resonating with your audience in the least. Maybe we're deluding ourselves out of loyalty to your remembrance, but from the ground, it appears that Yoko may have single-handedly authored that entire soliloquy of chaos without your knowledge or consent.

I can't begin to fathom what powers are held from beyond the grave, but damn...for the sake of all things holy in hip hop...can you please execute a way to flip the script or brainstorm a game plan for getting this brother to take a rest? It may require shutting down the entire Solar system, but now is the time for him to honor your loved ones and fans by removing his opportunistic ass from the spotlight. His silence would enable us to keep our focus where it should be: on celebrating and upholding the legacy of Guru the Great.

For the infinite blessings you've bestowed upon your audience, it will forever be all love. I'm zonin' out on one of your tapes right now (yes, know my steez), and it only reaffirms my admiration for you as both an artist and human being. You'll certainly be missed, but we can always look to the sun to find you~ keeping our eyes fixed miles above the clouds.

In Memory Of Keith Elam aka Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal

Souled On Samples:

"T Plays It Cool"---Marvin Gaye (LimeLinx)
"T Plays It Cool"---Marvin Gaye (YSI)

*Flipped on "Take a Rest"

"The Message From The Soul Sisters Parts 1 & 2"---Vicki Anderson (LimeLinx)
"The Message From The Soul Sisters Parts 1 & 2"---Vicki Anderson (YSI)

*Flipped by on "No More Mr. Nice Guy"

"Coffee Cold"---Galt MacDermot (LimeLinx)
"Coffee Cold"---Galt MacDermot (YSI)

*Flipped on "Werdz From The Ghetto Child"

"White Lightning (Imean Moonshine)"---James Brown (LimeLinx)
"White Lightning (Imean Moonshine)"---James Brown (YSI)

*Flipped on "I'm the Man"

"Ain't There Something Money Can't Buy"---Young-Holt Unlimited (LimeLinx)
"Ain't There Something Money Can't Buy"---Young-Holt Unlimited (YSI)

*Flipped on "Lovesick"

"Blind Alley"---The Emotions (LimeLinx)
"Blind Alley"---The Emotions (YSI)

*Flipped on "Comin' for Datazz"

"It's A New Day"---The Skull Snaps (LimeLinx)
"It's A New Day"---The Skull Snaps (YSI)

*Flipped on "Take It Personal"

Fundamental Supplemental:

My favorite Gang Starr videos are many...I don't wanna crash your browser, sun...but this is unquestionably a Top 10 contender:

Word From Your Moms:

"Guru, God and Self are one."~ Ramana Maharshi


dennis b said...

scholar, this is you at your best. peas man.

chrome said...

I spent an afternoon of my youth memorizing the lyrics to "Just To Get A Rep".

tape deck. pause, rewind, play, pause ... back in the day

RIP Bald head slick!

Anonymous said...

This should be the, simply amazing scribe for the anointed and gifted one.

Thank you Scholar

Rest in Power Guru!!!


Anonymous said...

Nice article man.

Would you be able to find out the sample Premo used for Ludacris' MVP, not the vocals but the instrumental sample. It's driving me mad trying to find it


ADB said...

Great post

hl said...

Nice post...

zak said...

I love the Guru, with his monotone style. We lost a genius! Thanks for the cool blog! You may like the new Jeff Lorber album Now Is The Time. Here is a free track called "Sumatra"

Jaz said...

Incredible piece here Scholar, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal?

Scholar said...

I appreciate all of you who took the time to comment on the eulogy. It was an imperfect and fragmented piece in some ways, but it came straight from the heart. Gang Starr's music will forever be an essential in my life.

Anonymous...thanks for the correction. I occasionally get a bit dyslexic when I'm nearing the end of a post.

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best and first
good work

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