Rapper Keith "Guru" Elam, music producer and former member of the rap group Gang Starr, died Monday after a year-long battle with cancer.
The rapper underwent surgery last month following a heart attack and coma.
Guru's close friend and collaborator, Solar released a statement:
"The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time -- my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru. Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius."
Elam rose to fame with partner DJ Premier in the late 1980s as part of the duo Gang Starr. They released several albums, including Step in the Arena (1991) and Daily Operation (1992).
Check out an MTV interview with Guru in 1998.