Hip Hop duos come in many different shapes in sizes, but one of the few that has been able to secure their legendary status is the duo Gang Starr. These two guys came together to create music that solidified them as golden-era royalty.
Gang Starr was initially formed in Atlanta, Georgia, with Morehouse College classmates Guru(then known as MC Keithy E), DJ Suave, and Big Shug. Unfortunately, things got shaky for the group when Big Shug went to jail. After Big Shug had to leave, DJ Suave, who was also Big Shug’s brother, decided to leave the group. Left alone, Guru decided to team up with MC Dama D-Ski and DJ 1 2 B-Down. Now with new members, Gang Starr made several demos and eventually released three singles on Wild Pitch Records between 1987 and 1988.
Forming The Dynamic Duo
Guru found himself dealing with another group breakup in 1989. Guru was the only individual who was okay with keeping and working under the Gang Starr name, so onward, he continued to push. Guru reached out to DJ Premier and invited him to move to Brooklyn, New York, and join Gang Starr.
That same year, the duo released their first album, No More Mr. Nice Guy, which included their single, “Words I Manifest.” By 1990, the group found themselves signed to Chrysalis Records, where their creativity was supported.
The group went on to release several different albums, including Step in the Arena (1991), Daily Operation (1992), Hard to Earn(1994), and Moment of Truth (1998).
Step in the Arena was labeled the greatest hip-hop album of all time by IGN in 2007 and hit number 19 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Daily Operation was placed at number 41 on the “Best Rap Albums of the ‘90s” by Complex Magazine and hit number 14 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Hard to Earn was the duo’s first album to have a parental advisory label on it, but that did not stop it from earning the second spot on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Moment of Truth earned the number 1 spot on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, was certified Gold in 1998, was ranked the 16th top album of 1998 by Spin Magazine, and named the 16th best album of 1998 by Pitchfork.
In addition to all of that, their song, “Jazz Thing” was on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film, Mo’ Better Blues, and their song “Battle,” was on the soundtrack of the 2002 movie 8 Mile.
In 2003, the group released The Ownerz, which reached number 5 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Little did the duo know that this would be their final album together. In 2010, Guru suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma. On April 19, 2010 he passed away.
In 2019, DJ Premier released the album One of the Best Yet, which includes vocals from Guru that were previously unreleased.
I always love a song with a great story, and this track delivers. The jazzy feel with the casual flow keeps you locked into and engaged with the story he’s telling.
The beat is aggressive, but Guru’s voice floats so nicely on the track. This one also has a nice, jazzy/neo-soul feel to it.
Where Is Gang Starr Now?
DJ Premier is still more active than ever in his music career. He has his own record company, Year Round Records, hosts a weekly show, Live From HeadQCourterz, on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Shade 45, and has worked with several artists, such as Bun B, Big Daddy Kane, Anderson Paak, Christina Aguilera, CanNabis, Papoose, and more. Source Magazine also named him one of the 20 greatest producers of the last 20 years in 2008.
Where To Find Gang Starr
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