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Gang Starr Biography

Home > Music > G > Gang Starr > Biography

Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Years Active: 1985 - 2010
Genres: East Coast Hip Hop, Jazz Rap, Alternative Hip Hop

Gang Starr was an influential East Coast hip hop duo that consisted of the late MC Guru (1961-2010) and DJ/producer DJ Premier. They were integral in the development of the Gang Starr Foundation, a loose collective of various people who have worked closely with the group, through either Guru's now defunct Ill Kid label, DJ Premier's production work or the management company that Gang Starr was represented by, Empire Management.

Their debut album, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” was issued in 1989 and peaked at #83 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The single, “Positivity” reached #19 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart. Like other hip-hop records of the time, the album displays rap braggadocio, positive lyrics, along with references to the beliefs of the Nation of Gods and Earths. However, it also shows mix of jazz-influenced beats, scratching techniques, and hardcore rap elements, which what would become the group's signature sound.

“Step In the Arena,” their second album, was released in 1991and reached #19 on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The singles “Just to Get a Rep,” “Who's Gonna Take The Weight?” and the title track were all Top 10 hits on the Rap Singles chart.

Their third album, “Daily Operation,” was issued in 1992, reaching #14 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and #65 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The first single, “Ex Girl To Next Girl” reached #5 on the Rap Singles chart and the second single, “Take It Personal” went all the way to #1 on the same chart. Jeru the Damaja and Lil' Dap made guest appearances on the track “I’m The Man.”

“Hard to Earn,” their fourth album was released in March 1994 and featured the singles “Mass Appeal,” “DWYCK” and “Code of the Streets.” Guest appearances on the album come from Group Home, Jeru The Damaja and Big Shug. The album reached the Top 25 of the Billboard 200 and went to #2 on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.

Four years later, in 1998 the duo issued their fifth album, “Moment of Truth.” The album debuted at #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, #6 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. Its collaborations included Inspectah Deck, Scarface, G-Dep, Freddie Foxxx, K-Ci & Jo-Jo, M.O.P. and more. The lead single, “You Know My Steez,” reached #5 on the Rap Singles chart and #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

The final Gang Starr album, “The Ownerz” was released in 2003. Guests on the album included Krumbsnatcha, Smiley, Jadakiss, Boy Big, Fat Joe, M.O.P, Big Shug, Freddie Foxxx, NYG'z , H. Stax, Snoop Dogg and Uncle Reo. The album reached the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and #5 on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.

In February 2010, Guru suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and died on April 19, 2010.