Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because Jeru Wasn't Going To Do It...

...I decided to write what wound up being a 1600-word tribute to the late, and lately lamented Guru. You know, from Gang Starr, the guy responsible for that demotivational poster I keep using (see, um, directly below). I'm pretty happy with the piece, which was once again humored and generously/gently edited by the very good people at The Awl. It's here, and it's long enough -- and every other post on this monster of a blog, which was not intended as such, is also so long -- that I'm not even going to excerpt it.

Obviously, when you write something of 1600 words, there's not much left on the cutting room floor. And so it is here, except for one really excellent point that my friend Jay Marietta raised over on Facebook, and which I think I kind of maybe blew a little bit in the piece. Namely that while Guru, as I wrote, always "rapped old," he actually was kind of old for hip-hop. He was 23 when Step In The Arena came out in 1989, which is pretty young for a human being, or a guy breaking into Major League Baseball, but actually is kind of old by hip-hop rookie status. Jay's point was that Guru -- whom I lionize for his blue-collar, max-effort approach, among other things -- was really more a contemporary of Stetsasonic than he was of, say, a more contemporary-sounding MC like Q-Tip, who also made his on-wax bow a year later. The idea of Guru as a man out of musical time -- crafting workmanlike battle rhymes and digging jazz samples and doing mucho-gusto smackdowns of new jacks -- is so compelling, and so basically correct, that I can't believe I didn't think of it. There's a whole other essay to be written on this, apparently. I just wouldn't advise doing it at 1600 words. No one will finish it. Believe me.

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