I say people, people come on and check it now
You see the mic in my hand now watch me wreck it now
What is a party if the crew ain't there?
(What's your name, kid?) Call me Guru; that's my man Premier
Now many attempts have been made to hold us back,
Slander the name and withhold facts.
But I'm the type of brother with much more game
I got a sure aim and if I find you're to blame,
You can bet you'll be exterminated, taken out, done.
It doesn't matter how many they'll go as easy as just one.
Bust one round in the air for this here
'Cause this year suckers are going nowhere,
'Cause my street style and intelligence level
Makes me much more than just an angry rebel.
I'm Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal
MCs that ain't equipped get flipped in my circle.
I'm aiming on raining on the bitch ass chumps
Cuz their rhymes don't flow and their beats don't pump;
And niggaz better know I've paid my dues and shit.
I'm 'bout to blow the fuck up because I refuse to quit.
I'm out to get the props that are rightfullly mine,
Yeah me and the crew think its about that time.
But on the DL you know that Gangstarr will conquer.
That's why you stare and point, and others cling on to
My Nautica, asking for a hook-up;
Well sorry but my schedule is all booked up.
Nobody put me on; I made it up the hard way;
Look out for my people but the suckers should parlay.
'Cause it's business kid, this ain't no free for all
You have to wait your turn, you must await your call.
So now, now it is my duty to
Eliminate and subtract all of the booty crews,
And suckers should vacate, before I get irate
And I'll kick your can from here to Japan
With force you can't withstand
'Cause I'm the motherfucking man.
—Guru's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"When I heard yesterday morning that Guru had died, a sequence ran through my mind of classics rendered in that inimitable monotone. "Just to get a Rep" and "Words I Manifest" were my introduction to Gang Starr and the group's charismatic MC. I'm not one to dwell much on celebrity life milestones (though I do remark the excellent NY Times obit), not even in the tragic case of a quietus descended at young age. But it is certainly occasion to remember the music that kept me, my brothers, and my peers well entertained for a good while. As you can see from the above verse, Guru never pushed the bounds of complexity too far. His rap was mostly classic B-Boy swagger. But classic B-Boy swagger is what drew so many of us to Hip-Hop in the first place, the rump-of-cold-war kids born of the first generation able to take full advantage of the global village, finding our way as far-flung misfits. We didn't really know of any advantage to our polycultural dexterity, but we definitely understood the message of uncompromising personal expression, no matter how awful your personal ghetto. The braggadocio was the gateway to something that became richer and more abstract as we brought that polycultural dexterity to bear, and one of the last pushers of that pure, gateway drug hit was the Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal. "Dwyck" was the anthem around when I arrived in the US as my family immigrated. Daily Operation is probably my favorite album, with killer tracks such as "Take it Personal" and "Ex to the Next." I also enjoyed a lot of Guru's creative collabos in the Jazzmatazz series, and being a Soul junkie, I definitely dug the likes of "Keep your Worries" with Angie Stone and "Plenty" with Erykah Badu. Guru always surrounded himself with talent that complemented his skill and curiosity, and in a later verse to this Quotīdiē's track, for a cameo that straight flipped my wig (and those of many others), Guru introduced a young bridge from that B-Boy classic style to the emerging abstract/black-power style, Jeru the Damaja.
I'll tap your...jaw; you probably heard it before
step to the Bedlamite I'll prove my word is law
Drugstore worth more, dope rhyme vendor,
Not partial to beef, the chief ambassador
Niggaz get mad 'cause they can't score
Like a wild west flick they wish to shoot up my door
But I incite to riot, don't even try it
Bust up chumps so crab kids keep quiet
Like I said before, I tap jaws, snatch whores
Kill suckers in wars, vic a style you said was yours.
Money grip want to flip, but you're fish;
House the mic like your hooker and did tricks on the bitch
Dirty Rotten Scoundrel and my name is Jeru
Utilizing my tools in '92
MCs step up in mobs to defeat us
When we rock knots and got props like Norm Peterson;
Lot's of friends, lot's of fun, lots of beers
Got the skills, kreeno, so I always get cheers.
Troop on like a trooper, no tears for fears.
I'm a get mines 'cause the crew will get theirs.
Cut you up like Edward Scissorhands
you know the program I'm the motherfucking man.
—Jeru the Damaja's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"
By the way, when a friend confirmed for me that Jeru had thrown in a word of New Testament Greek ("κρίνω" or "krino"), I thought it helped confirm him as the motherfucking man, but if so, that became the case under the mentoring of Guru, and the same can be said of a fair number who now make up hip-hop royalty. Unfortunately, mad drama has started immediately in the wake of Guru's death. All the reports are dominated by an unseemly spat between different factions from the man's life. Despite that ugliness and indignity, no drama can take away the essence of Guru's legacy, which lives its part in my collection of three Gang Starr CDs and all four Jazzmataz joints. The hard monotone in which the Words Manifest.