Preserving his MESSAGE, his MUSIC, his LEGACY

Classic GURU

Keithy E Demo Cassette Tape

THE X LABEL brings to you a limited edition recreation of Guru’s (MC Keithy E) Demo Cassette Tape. This recreation of Guru’s demo cassette tape consist of the exact image Keithy E made for the cover, Keithy E’s handwriting of the songs on the tape, and the actual songs from the demo. Pop it in your vintage boombox to listen to Guru’s never before-heard songs or put it on a mantle and keep it as an amazing collectors item that was a part of the foundation of Guru’s hip hop legacy.

Tape info: In 1986 MC Keithy E (now known as GURU) completed a demo tape that featured the early members of GangStarr; DJ Mikey Dee and Damo D (Beat Box). The tape that was recorded at “Radio One” studios in Boston, includes multiple racks featuring the young Guru rhyming and displaying his singing voice over a bare drum machine. The demo tape was clearly made and sent directly to Magnus Johnstone (a local DJ/Radio Host in Guru’s hometown of Boston) for his show. Both the demo tape’s cover and the actual tape are labeled “for Magnus”. Magnus Johnstone founded Lecco’s Lemma radio show in 1985. It was a groundbreaking hip-hop radio show, the first of its kind in Boston and one of the only rap radio shows in the world at that time. What made it even more revolutionary for the emerging Boston hip-hop scene was that Magnus encouraged local rap groups to come down to the station and perform on the air. Since the show was Boston’s outlet for up and coming hip hop artists, it was a big deal to appear on the show. This demo tape earned MC Keithy E and crew the right to be on the show and share their talents to the listeners.




DJ Premier (Exclusive photo of Tupac & GURU) shirt.

GIFTED by The X Label

GIFTED_ The crown on this t-shirt is from the Emire Management logo. Empire Management represented Gangstarr for a number of years. Guru can be seen wearing an Empire Management t-shirt in the “Dwyck” music video. “Gifted” not only explains Guru’s talent as an MC but it is also the first word from the backronym (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal). Lastly, Guru’s signature (Keithy E) which was the first name he went by as a MC is displayed on the t-shirt. A nice blend of Guru’s history in one!

KEITH ELAM “GURU”, Hard at work, photo shared by Justin N. Elam Ruff

GURU “Hard at work”

photo shared by Justin N. Elam Ruff

Write up about MC KEITHY E Demo Tape 1986, DEVON MORGAN for SWAN LAKE blog


Keith “GURU” Elam’s College Graduation 1983 (photos from Elam’s family archives)

Keith Elam (GURU) graduated from Morehouse College in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration.  From there he took graduate classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

photos shared by Justin N. Elam Ruff for The X Label 2011.

All photos are copyrights from the Elam Family Estates & Archives.