Rapper Guru, of Hip-Hop Duo Gang Starr, Dead at 43

He had been secretly fighting cancer for a year

New York-based rapper Guru, half of hip-hop duo Gang Starr, died Monday after a secret battle with cancer, promoter Kai Denninger said Tuesday. Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, was 43.

Denniger, of Yo promotions, said Guru gave a letter to his New York-based producer Solar to issue to fans.

"I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options," Guru said in a statement posted on yo-pr.com.

The Boston-born rapper also referenced a longtime feud with DJ Premier, the other half of Gang Starr, which released six albums between 1989 and 2003.

"I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc," he said. "I am very proud of what Gang Starr has meant to the music world and fans."

Guru was born near Boston and later moved to New York. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Gang Starr debuted in 1989 with the album "No More Mr. Nice Guy." They released more albums as a duo, including the gold-selling "Moment of Truth" in 1998.

The group’s first hit was "Words I Manifest," which samples Miles Davis and Charlie Parker’s "A Night In Tunisia." Other hits include "Dwyck," "Just to Get a Rep" and "Take It Personal."

Guru moved on as a solo artist in 1993, releasing "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1," which featured a blend of jazz melodies and hip-hop sounds. He released four volumes of the "Jazzmatazz" series.