The tragic death of Keith “Guru” Elam continues to play out as a disquieting flurry of hearsay, and now there seems to be more fuel to be added to this delicate fire. To sum up the media collective of the past week: Guru’s death was accompanied by a press release most likely ghost-written by John “Solar” Mosher, his most recent producer after Guru parted ways with Gang Starr producer Christopher “MC Premier” Martin in 2003. The statement issued was a respectful but confusing letter, which repeatedly aggrandized Solar and all but effaced Premier.
The letter went on to state, “…my sun [sic] KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own.” Foul cries resounded across the internet as former familial distrust amplified present familial distrust concerning Solar as Guru’s primary care-taker and de-facto publicist. Solar refuted these accusations, claiming nothing but the best of intentions in his actions, and that Guru was the sole writer of his posthumous press release.
To further muddy the issue, contention was raised as to when Guru might have written this letter if he was in a coma. On March 22nd, a press release was issued saying Guru was purportedly out of his coma, in stable condition, and diagnosed with Anoxia in part due to the long-term effects of asthma, from which he suffered. The now suspect Solar issued that release.
Guru’s brother, Henry Elam Jr, told the NY Times in Guru’s official obituary that Guru was diagnosed with “multiple myeloma last summer  and was hospitalized for related respiratory problems.” Additionally, Guru’s sister Patricia Elan said recently to MTV, “He never regained consciousness from the time he went into a coma in freaking mid-February until he died. You tell me how someone writes a letter in that state.”
Ostensibly, the two opposing camps appear to be Guru’s family and Solar, the former having nothing but unkind words and misgivings for the latter. Which about brings us to this recent HipHopDX interview (via TDS) of Tasha Denham. Denham, who worked as an executive assistant at Guru and Solar’s record label 7 Grand Records between 2006 and 2008 and mothered a daughter by Guru, is the first non-family member (well, sort of) to speak out regarding Guru and Solar’s relationship, which is turning out to be the most fascinating, dramatic, epic relationship of recent history. The stuff of fables.
The lengthy interview sheds light on Denham’s feelings about 7 Grand Records; on Guru and Premier’s relationship, how it was in fact strained, but intensified by Solar’s instance on distancing Guru from Premier, going so far as to say Premier had a hit out on Guru; on the dynamics of Guru and Solar’s partnership, one rife with megalomania and intense physical and psychological abuse on Solar’s behalf; and on Guru himself, a tragic figure full of love for his music and family but riddled with insecurities about his career.
While this interview will only further damage Solar’s credibility, it has yet to be corroborated by any other close connections familiar with Guru and Solar’s relationship, though clearly the Elam family’s words in the press cohere to Denham’s story.
When asked about whether the Elam family will seek legal action, Denham said, “I think that his family absolutely has his son’s best interest in heart. I think that his family has the knowledge, the power and the support behind him [including mine]. His son deserves to know his father, and his son deserves to be the one that benefits from his father’s success over the years, not someone else.”
The ins and outs of this ongoing controversy will likely unfold to future events which will include courtrooms, judges, emotional testimonies, custody battles, and an unnecessarily protracted grief process. Rarely is a celebrity’s death handled with gravitas and decorum, but those involved in Guru’s death, be it Solar or the Elam family, have committed no crimes within the spectrum of the legal system (unlike Jacko‘s death). Instead, what’s left is a macabre quagmire of stories, rumors, and second-hand accounts that will no doubt continue on, ad infinitum, for better or for worse.
I’ll leave you with some important words from Ms. Denham’s interview:
Of course he was an artist. But I look at Guru as my friend. He was there for my daughter’s first birthday. I got kicked out of my apartment in New York because Solar had a problem with my landlord and Guru’s the one who drove to New York City [from 45 miles away] and helped me carry all my stuff down three flights of stairs, load it in his truck and bring it to his house, and let me stay at his house for several weeks. He was the person, that if I needed someone to talk to, I could pick up the phone and call. Those are the things. He was just a regular guy, but he was such a kind person. We all went to the zoo one day, with the kids. Guru’s son was there. He was just a dad that day…This legacy deserves to be cherished. His son deserves to grow up loving and respecting his father for the person and artist that he was, instead of rumors and speculation.