I haven't paid much attention to hip-hop since about '98 with the exception of a few artists here and there (Eminem, Lil' Wayne, Jurrasic 5 and Mike Jones come to mind). I simply cannot get into the current wave of artists representing the genre and have a general disinterest in newer material from the artists I loved in the 80's and 90's. One artist who I have always maintained respect for was Guru from Gang Starr who passed away this Monday after a battle with cancer.
I don't keep much hip-hop on my iPod anymore, but Gang Starr's Daily Operation is one album that has been on there since I first added it to my iTunes seven years ago. It is one of the best hip-hop albums ever made and it is due largely in part to Guru's abilities as a rapper. He was quite simply amazing and one of the genre's best. He eventually branched off and started doing records without DJ Premier and one of his first solo efforts was Jazzmatazz Vol. 1. I listened to this record non-stop my freshmen year of college. It is mind-blowingly good.
Hopefully with his passing, some up and comers will become aware of Guru's music and start to study and emulate it and move away from the boring direction hip-hop has taken recently and give us something with a little more substance.
"Ex Girl To Next Girl"
"Step In The Arena"
"No Time To Play"