Gang Starr

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Bios: Gang Starr, Guru & DJ Premier
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Members
Guru (Backronym: Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) (A.K.A. Baldhead Slick) (Born Keith Elam, July 17, 1966 in Roxbury, MA April 19, 2010 (Cancer))
DJ Premier (A.K.A. Preem, Premo & Primo) (Born Christopher Edward Martin, March 21, 1966 in Houston, TX)

See Also: Afu-Ra & Bumpy Knuckles/Freddie Foxxx

Albums
Gang Starr - Step In The Arena
Gang Starr - Daily Operation
Gang Starr - Hard To Earn
Gang Starr - Moment Of Truth
Gang Starr - Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr
Gang Starr - The Ownerz
DJ Premier Presents Year Round Records: Get Used To Us
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles StOoDiOtYmE
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - KoleXXXion
Guru - Jazzmatazz
Guru - Jazzmatazz Vol. II: The New Reality
Guru - Jazzmatazz III: Streetsoul
Guru - Baldhead Slick & Da Click
Guru - Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures
Guru - Jazzmatazz Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future

Mixtapes
DJ Premier - Crooklyn Cuts Volume III: Tape A
Guru - Jazzmatazz The Mixtape: Back To The Future

Singles
Guru - Loungin' (Single)

Also Featured On...
Addams Family Values (Guru)
Belly
Best Of Rap City
Big L - The Big Picture (Guru)
Big L - Unreleased
Big L - The Danger Zone
Black Milk - Tronic (DJ Premier)
Blaq Poet - Tha Blaqprint (DJ Premier)
Caught Up
Common - Uncommon Classics (Guru)
D&D Project 2 (Guru)
De La Soul - Buhloone Mindstate (Guru)
Digable Planets - Blowout Comb (Guru)
DJ Kayslay - Underground Part 1: Well Connected (DJ Premier)
DJ Khaled - Kiss The Ring (DJ Premier)
DJ Skribble's Traffic Jams 2000
8 Mile
Essential Underground Hip Hop (Guru)
Everlast - Whitey Ford Sings The Blues (Guru)
Get On The Bus (Guru)
Heavy D & The Boyz - Blue Funk
Donell Jones - Eight Unreleased Jams EP (Guru)
Lyricist Lounge Vol. 2 (Guru)
M.O.P. - First Family 4 Life
M.O.P. - World Famous (Single) (DJ Premier)
M.O.P. - Warriorz
Bob Marley - Chant Down Babylon (Guru)
Menace II Society (Guru)
Nas - The Prophecy (DJ Premier)
Papoose - The Nacirema Dream (DJ Premier)
Prince Paul - Politics Of The Business (Advance)
Rhyme & Reason (Guru)
Royce Da 5'9" - The Bar Exam (DJ Premier)
Showbiz & A.G. - Mugshot Music (DJ Premier)
Statik Selektah - Spell My Name Right (The Album) (DJ Premier)
Statik Selektah - Population Control (DJ Premier)
Sway & King Tech Featuring DJ Revolution - This Or That
Termanology - Hood Politics IV: Show And Prove (DJ Premier)
Termanology - Hood Politics V (DJ Premier)
Termanology - Cameo King II (DJ Premier)
Training Day
Trespass
Luther Vandross - I Know (Guru)
Kanye West - Graduation (DJ Premier)
Wu-Chronicles Chapter II
X-Ecutioners - Built From Scratch (DJ Premier)

Bio From AllMusic.Com
Never overly prolific nor overly popular, Gang Starr nonetheless became and remain one of hip-hop's most admired acts ever, the duo's legacy nothing short of legendary in terms of influence. DJ Premier and Guru, the duo's respective producer/DJ and lyricist/MC, set standards for early-'90s hip-hop with their two touchstone releases: Step In The Arena (1991) and Daily Operation (1992). Beginning with these releases, both listeners and critics heaped mounds of praise upon Premier and Guru the former because of his DJ-style beatmaking and jazzy sound, the latter because of his socially conscious lyrics and no-nonsense stance. Following these two undisputed classics, Premier became one of New York's most demanded producers and crafted hits for the city's finest MCs: the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, KRS-One, and more. Guru likewise collaborated with plenty of famous artists Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, N'Dea Davenport, and more on his solo debut, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1. After this point, however, Gang Starr became somewhat of a side project for Premier and Guru, who both forged on with their respective solo careers. More albums came each impressive, beginning with the tough Hard To Earn album in 1994 yet Gang Starr had already attained their summit of popularity and acclaim in the early '90s and, as a result, continually battled their own growing legacy, as fans billed every successive album as a comeback.

Premier and Guru began humbly enough, releasing No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989), an ambitious debut album seeking to heavily incorporate a jazz aesthetic into hip-hop. Ambitious or not, the formative album didn't impress too many (though there were promising moments like "Manifest" and "DJ Premier in Deep Concentration"), and Gang Starr took two years to reconsider their approach. The duo then returned with a new record label and a fresh approach. It worked marvelously as Step In The Arena (1991) set new standards with not only its beats but also its lyrics. Premier had blossomed into one of New York's most savvy producer/DJs, capable of using samples in ways never before imagined and garnered much acclaim for his subtle use of jazz. Similarly, Guru's literate, thoughtful, and, most of all, earnest lyrics stood out among the brash materialism increasingly plaguing the genre, and his trademark monotone delivery didn't hurt either. A year later came Daily Operation (1992). If Step In The Arena had been and remains a masterpiece, this album is nothing short of that mark; in fact, it's generally viewed as Gang Starr's crowning achievement.

While both Step In The Arena and Daily Operation astounded critics and street-level listeners, the albums never inspired any big breakthrough hits, and Gang Starr remained somewhat of a cult favorite. Songs like "Just to Get a Rep," "Step in the Arena," "Take It Personal," and "Soliloquy of Chaos" became underground classics but never crossed over to the mainstream. Despite Premier's reputation as a hitmaker, Gang Starr openly spurned "mass appeal" and refused to adjust their style to any sort of trend. Hard To Earn (1994) strongly confirmed this anti-commercial stance, especially the "Mass Appeal" single, and the duo didn't return until four years later with Moment Of Truth (1998) and Full Clip (1999) shortly after. The former album and its big single, "You Know My Steez," proved that, despite Gang Starr's long absence, Premier and Guru could still make excellent hip-hop an entire album of it, in fact. The latter album, a double-disc retrospective commemorating Gang Starr's ten-year anniversary, showcased some of the duo's best moments and added some bonuses for long-time fans.

Following the best-of collection, Premier and Guru quietly rested the Gang Starr moniker. Even so, they remained active over the years: Guru continued releasing star-studded solo albums, and Premier continued producing countless tracks for New York's finest. While it's somewhat ironic that Premier produced so many across-the-board hits for others but not himself, Gang Starr never attained Nas- or Jay-Z-level stardom because of their uncompromising, somewhat highbrow style, something which the two refused to dilute with mass appeal, precisely the reason why their influence has proven so timeless. Jason Birchmeier

Guru's Bio From AllMusic.Com
Rapper/composer Guru (real name Keith Elam) first rose to prominence as the "lyrical half" of the hip-hop duo Gang Starr, one of the first outfits that attempted to fuse jazz with rap. After three albums by Gang Starr hit record store shelves (1989's No More Mr. Nice Guy, 1991's Step In The Arena, and 1992's Daily Operation), Guru launched his own solo career, issuing Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 in 1993. The album featured guest appearances by the likes of Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, and N'Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies, and was followed up two years later by a sophomore solo outing, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality, which again featured a variety of special guests (including Ramsey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, and members of Jamiroquai).

Despite his solo career, Guru has remained true to Gang Starr all along, continuing to contribute to such further albums as 1994's Hard To Earn and 1998's Moment Of Truth. Five years after his second solo outing appeared, Streetsoul was issued in 2000, which again featured a stellar cast of supporting characters: Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, the Roots, Erykah Badu, and Macy Gray. Wasting little time, Guru returned directly back to the recording studio, issuing a follow-up one year later, Baldhead Slick & Da Click.

In addition to the aforementioned artists, Guru has collaborated with some of rap music's best-known producers, including fellow Gang Starr member DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Alchemist, Ayatollah, and DJ Spinna, as well as Ice-T, Naughty by Nature's Treach, Killah Priest, and Ed O.G. Greg Prato

DJ Premier's Bio From AllMusic.Com
No more than three producers (Dr. Dre, RZA, and Prince Paul) can test DJ Premier's status as the most important trackmaster of the '90s, and no style is more distinctive. Aggressive and raw, a Premier track was an instantly recognizable soundclash of battling loops and heavy scratching all of them perfectly timed that evoked the sound of Brooklyn better than anyone. Besides helming tracks for his main concern, Gang Starr, since their 1989 debut, Premier's productions appeared on many of the East Coast's most important records: Nas' Illmatic, the Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, Jeru the Damaja's The Sun Rises in the East, and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides.

Premier, born Chris Martin, spent time in Brooklyn and Houston while growing up, and studied computer science at Prairie View A&M outside Houston. Known as Waxmaster C, he'd already learned to play a variety of instruments and also managed a record store. After moving back to Brooklyn, around 1987-1988 he came into contact with Guru, a Boston native. Guru had already formed a group named Gang Starr two years earlier (and recorded with the 45 King), but his former partner, Mike Dee, had returned to Boston. DJ Premier and Guru signed to Wild Pitch and released a debut single ("Manifest") and album (No More Mr. Nice Guy). Gang Starr's interest in melding hip-hop with jazz informed the record, and they were invited to add to the soundtrack for Spike Lee's 1990 film Mo' Better Blues. Their subsequent work was much more mature and unified, with a pair of instant East Coast classics (1991's Step In The Arena and 1992's Daily Operation) arriving in short order.

DJ Premier had been working with other vocalists for years, and his productions for the 1990 landmark Funky Technician by Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth cemented his status as one of the best producers around. He soon began recording exclusively at D&D Studios, a spot soon to become a shrine for hip-hop fans (thanks in large part to his own work). The year 1994 was a huge one for Premier, probably the best year for any rap producer ever; in addition to dropping another Gang Starr classic, Hard To Earn, his productions appeared on five-star, all-time classics by Nas (Illmatic), the Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die), and Jeru the Damaja (The Sun Rises in the East), as well as Big Daddy Kane and Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project. Though his workload dropped off considerably during the late '90s, he still managed to place tracks on three of the first four Jay-Z albums, and returned in force with the new millennium, including shots with Common, D.I.T.C., D'Angelo, Jadakiss, and Snoop Dogg. - John Bush

Official Site: Virgin Records, 7 Grand Records (Guru), Guru's MySpace, DJ Premier's MySpace, Facebook, DJ Premier's Blog & DJ Premier's Fuckin' Twitter

Gang Starr: DJ Premier & Guru

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