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Catamount Community Radio - April 25, 2010

I've been puttin' off, puttin' off the Detroit special. I've been too busy to write the notes, even though the music has been ready for more than a month. It looks like it might be summer before it gets done. While in Kentucky I found a Time magazine, with "The Tragedy of Detroit: How a Great City Fell - and how it can rise again" splashed across the cover. I pocketed it immediately, so there's another document. Today, I thought about featuring trumpeter Roy Eldridge, but even that will have to wait.

I learned that Guru (Keith Elam), of Gang Starr, had died. He shares a birthday with Jim Dandy (July 17) and he was my age, 47, a tender and lovely age. He had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma last summer. I'm not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to hip hop, but Gang Starr was one of my favorite hip hop acts: I always think of the nineties as the golden age of hip hop: Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers and .... Gang Starr. I like the later rappers, you know, Nas, The Roots, Jay Z, Mos Def, MF Doom, Kool Keith; I like the West Coasters like Snoop Dog and NWA. I like some pieces by the Geto Boys, but those New York groups of the nineties were always my favorites.

Here's what the paper of record had to say:

"Guru and DJ Premier made archetypal East Coast rap, sharp-edged but not aggressive, full of clear-eyed storytelling and suavely executed, dusty sample-driven production. In the early 1990s, as hip-hop was developing into a significant commercial force, Gang Starr remained committedly anti-ostentatious. As a lyricist, Guru was often a weary moralist weighed down by the tragedy surrounding him, though the group’s music was almost always life-affirming, never curmudgeonly. Guru’s music bridged generations in part thanks to his career-long engagement with jazz, even after hip-hop largely ended its flirtation with it in the early 1990s. As a solo artist, Guru released four volumes of his “Jazzmatazz” series, the first of which, from 1993, was one of the most influential in the fleeting jazz-rap movement of the day. And 'Jazz Thing' a Gang Starr collaboration with Branford Marsalis, was used over the closing credits of the Spike Lee film Mo’ Better Blues. For all of Guru’s gifts as a storyteller — songs like “Just to Get a Rep” are among the starkest tales hip-hop has told — he benefited from an unusually forceful voice, rich and burred around the edges. It was tough to compete with, which he explained on “Mostly Tha Voice,” from Gang Starr’s fourth album, Hard To Earn: 'A lot of rappers got flavor, and some got skills/ But if your voice ain’t dope, then you need to chill.'"

Catamount Community Radio, free form, airs on WWCUFM Sunday morning, 10-12 on the East Coast.


1. Etta James – A Sunday Kind of Love
2. Bobby Watson – Isfahan
3. Danny Ray – Ain’t It a Beautiful Morning
4. Harry Connick Jr. – If I Only Had a Brain
5. Roy Eldridge – Body and Soul
6. Allen Toussaint – Tipitina and Me
7. Hank Williams – I Heartd that Lonesome Whistle Blow
8. Fats Domino – Walkin’
9. Jimmie Rodgers – Waiting for a Train
10. Sufjan Stevens – The Upper Peninsula
11. Bird & Diz – A Night in Tunisia
12. Gang Starr – Words I Manifest (Remix)
13. Gang Starr – A Jazz Thing
14. Allen Toussaint – Long, Long Journey
15. Kenny Werner – West Coast Variant
16. Robert Johnson – Malted Milk
17. Bebo Valdés – La comparsa
18. Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics – Addis Black Widow
19. Maceo and the Macks – Soul Power ‘74
20. Jazzmatazz – Loungin’
21. Sonny Rollins – Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye
22. Prince – The Word
23. Johnny Hodges – On the Sunny Side of the Street
24. Blind Willie McTell – Lord, Send Me an Angel
25. Professor Longhair – Tipitina
26. Miles Davis – Doxy
27. Taj Mahal – Cakewalk into Town
28. Gang Starr – Form of Intellect
29. Beatfanatic – Jogando Capoeira
30. Conway Twitty – Pop a Top
31. Lord Creator – Such is Life
32. Jimi Hendrix – Manic Depression (instrumental)

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