gifted unlimited, rhymes universal.

i must’ve been about 19 when i started interning in the music industry.  first place i got interviewed at was this little indie dance/electronica label, that also happened to manage the legendary gangstarr.  now, dance music didn’t stay heavy in my ipod, but it was early in the 2000’s, so i was into popping e and getting fucked up… and i love gangstarr, so i said fuck it, took the gig, and started my grind.  those were good times.  for months, i was in the office, pretty much sending out promo mailer after promo mailer, the entire time, waiting diligently like a fan boy to meet my Hip Hop heroes, gangstarr.  i did anything and everything they asked of me, all for a chance to just tell two of my favorite artists how much they could influence a kid who grew up in seoul, korea of all places.  sounds corny, but being so young, it didn’t matter.  i cleared mice traps, unclogged toilets, cleaned out ash trays (pre-bloomberg fuckery), organized jiffy envelopes, and even alphabetized old magazines for no apparent reason (whattap roya).  and finally, my moment came. 

a year after full clip dropped, we were working jazzmatazz 3,  and gangstarr was prepping ownerz.  gifted unlimited, rhymes universal  walks into 588 broadway.  black leather kufi and all.  he walked around, giving daps to the office, dance music folks and Hip Hop folks alike.  no prejudice.  then he came over my way, as i was busily stuffing jiffies with promo burns hot from the one cd burner in the office.  “what’s up, brother?” he asked.  i froze.  finally found my sack (pause) and offered up a very childlike, “it’s an honor mr. elam.”  I was so ashamed of my corny ass greeting, yet totally satisfied with myself that i knew his gov’t name from peeking at contracts i shouldn’t have been looking at (this was pre-wikipedia days, my friends).  “please…” he said as he laughed.  “call me guru.”  and that was that.  from that point on, we were peoples.

after that, i was given missions, that i accepted and fulfilled like i was ethan hunt.  transferring numbers from an old two way to a new one, watching the double parked hoopty outside the office (guru: “the m-class is in the shop, so i’m going incognito today”), working the guest list at the ownerz party.  every time a mission was completed, i was thanked, as a man.  my work was acknowledged, no matter how ‘insignificant’ a job it was, and i felt appreciated.  i know now, this feeling isn’t a normal feeling in the music industry.

the best part about guru?  it didn’t matter when or where he met you, he made you feel like peoples.  probably the corniest fan boy moment of my life was when i was walking to class with some of my nyu homies, and someone pulls up in a blacked out benz, shouting my name from the window.  watching those kids’ jaws drop as i gave the guru a dap and kicked it with him in front of his car for a second?  priceless.  i was still young, and it was moments like that, that made all my free work worth it.  it also helped that if he was in the office, he was smokin’ heavy, and he’d always hook a dude up, ha!  good times.

things weren’t always happy though.  there was the now infamous split of gangstarr.  i stayed out of it.  hated to see it happen, but it is what it is.  gotta keep it moving.  after the split, i’d run into guru on the streets of soho from time to time, in the waiting room of the physician we share, and it was always the same.  “what’s up my brother.”

him (and preem; meeting him is another story for another time) were, and still are, just like that.  legends in Hip Hop, but no celeb bs.  it was amazing to see pillars of this genre and culture straight up accept me, a nobody from the far east.  i appreciate the little things in life, like being able to shoot the shit about basketball, with Hip Hop celebrities i never imagined even meeting.  and today, after spending a weekend away from the internets, i wake up to something like this.  it’s hard to put into words what it feels like to know that someone you consider your people, is frozen in a comatose state.  regardless of what’s happened in the history of gangstarr, regardless of ‘which side’ i work for now, mr. keith elam is a friend of mine.  and my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.  head up, gu, the soldier i know in you will pull through.  gangstarr foundation for life.


~ by col.rice on March 1, 2010.

One Response to “gifted unlimited, rhymes universal.”

  1. […] Blog. And related to the whole Guru situation (looks like the surgery went well), Col.rice wrote a very good column about meeting the legendary […]

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