Rapper Guru dies at 48

Gang Starr co-founder endured secret battle with cancer

NEW YORK -- New York-based rapper Guru, of hip hop duo Gang Starr and who had success as a solo artist combining hip hop and jazz in the 1990s, has died after a secret battle with cancer, his promoter Kai Denninger said on Tuesday. He was 48.

Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, died on Monday, Denniger, of Yo promotions, said via telephone from Germany. He said Guru gave a letter to his friend and 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," the rapper, who released a series of four "Jazzmatazz" albums in the 1990s, said in a statement posted on yo-pr.com.

It was not clear what form of cancer Guru had.

The Boston-born rapper also referenced a long-time feud with DJ Premier, who once made up 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. I equally am proud of my 'Jazzmatazz' series and as the father of hip hop-jazz."