Keenan Ivory Wayan’s In Living Color stayed having legit Hip-Hop acts close out the sketch comedy show’s episodes with energetic performances (KRS-1, Leaders of the New School (below), Pete Rock & CL Smooth, et. al.). Above is Gang Starr and Nice & Smooth performing the b-side champion tune “D.W.Y.C.K.”
Moment of Truth: Guru Succumbs to Cancer [BEATS and RANTS]
Keith Elam, 1962-2010 [Jesse Serwer]
Guru of Gang Starr passed away yesterday. So did part of my childhood.
Gang Starr, along with sizable doses of Native Tongue, BDP and Juice Crew music, was my perpetual soundtrack ever since I first peeped the visual for “Words I Manifest” on Video Music Box. There was no better and dependable place to go for that good ol’ NYC boom bap (even if Guru was from Boston and Premier is from Texas) than a Gang Starr record.
With that in mind, here is every Gang Starr, and Guru, video in chronological order. Pretty sure the good Dart Adams has this covered already, but so be it.
It’s a shame but Jadakiss was right; dead rappers get better promotion. Even GQ notes that he was “underrated.” It’s too bad that only after his death will Guru really get the credit that he is due. RIP Guru.
Gang Starr No More Mr. Nice Guy (Wild Pitch, 1989)
“Words I Manifest”
“Jazz Thing” – the video version appears on the Mo Better Blues Soundtrack (1991)
Step in the Arena (Chrysalis/EMI, 1991)
“Just To Get a Rep” – the video was directed by Fab 5 Freddy. people felt a ways when they copped the album and realized the video version had an extra verse.
“Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” – this was “Just to Get a Rep’s” b-side.
“Step in the Arena” – See homie with the chain on his neck (no “Just to Get a Rep”) and bald head? That would be Melachi the Nutcracker.
Gang Starr Daily Operation (Chrysalis/EMI, 1992)
“Take It Personal” – “Rap is an art you can’t own no loops, it’s how you hook em up and the rhyme style troop.” = a Hip-Hop mantra.
“D.W.Y.C.K.” – this rocked the summer of 1992 and was “Take It Personal’s” b-side. It wouldn’t appear on an album until ’94’s Daily Operation.
“Ex Girl to the Next Girl”
“Gotta Get Over (Taking Loot)” – this gem is from the Trespass Soundrack (1993).
Guru Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 (Chrysalis/EMI, 1993)
“Trust Me” f/ N’Dea Davenport
“Loungin'” f/ Donald Byrd – recognize, Donald Byrd has BEATS.
“Le Bien, Le Mal” – that would be featuring MC Solaar. not the guy who calls himself superproducer with no hits to his name.
“No Time To Play”
Gang Starr Hard to Earn (Chrysalis/EMI, 1994)
“Code of the Streets”
“Mass Appeal” – Premier is cutting up “Pass the Mic” by Da Youngstaz, in case you didn’t know.
“Suckas Need Bodyguards”
Guru Jazzmatazz, Vol 2: The New Reality (Chrysalis/EMI, 1994)
“What What You Say” f/ Chaka Khan
Gang Starr Moment of Truth (Noo Trybe/Virgin/EMI, 1998)
“Royalty” f/ K-Ci & JoJo – the record everyone looked at on paper and said “WTF” but still sounds great.
“You Know My Steez”
“Militia” f/ Big Shug & Freddie Foxxx
Gang Starr Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr (No Trybe/Virgin/EMI, 1999)
“Discipline” f/ Total
Guru Jazzmataz, Vol. 3: Street Soul (Virgin, 2000)
“Keep Your Worries” f/ Angie Stone – that’s DJ Scratch in the video. Also, my fav track on this album was “Certified” featuring Bilal and produced by Jay Dee/J. Dilla.
“Supa Love” f/ Kelis
Gang Starr The Ownerz (Virgin, 2003)
“Rite Where U Stand”
“Nice Girl, Wrong Place”
“Same Team, No Games”
Guru Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures (7 Grand, 2005)
Guru Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messanger: Back to the Future (7 Grand, 2007)
“State of Clarity” f/ Common
“Cuz I’m Jazzy” f/ Slum Village
Guru 8.0: Lost & Found (7 Grand, 2009)
“Divine Rule” – Sigh.
Let me know if I missed any…
RIP Guru Of Gang Starr [The Nod Factor]
Mister Cee’s Throwback at Noon Guru Tribute on HOT 97 [Rappers I Know]
YN Editorial: I Got 5 On It [Rap Radar]
Guru’s nephew Justin Elam reveals some disturbing details, if true, about the Gang Starr MCs relationship with his business partner Super-producer Solar. Reading in between the lines of recent Guru interviews seems to at least confirm that something is “off.” Can’t wait to get Solar’s side of this story but keeping information from someone’s family is tough to justify.
Regardless, keep praying for Guru’s health.
UPDATE: Guru Issues Statement On Heart Attack [AllHipHop]
Would have been nice if Nas made that album with Premier like he promised in the above mag. About a year ago I was at some random event where Premier was in attendance and I asked Guru’s “associate” what happened with said album. I’ll keep it off the record as promised, but he was none too happy. Well, Nas has other issues to deal with.
Moving on; Nas’ demo from ’91. I repeat, Nasty Nas’ demo from ’91! The songs are raw, but still of a higher caliber than most of the drivel you’ll find on shelves iTunes and bootleg sites today. [Spotted at Kanye’s Blog via Blind I For The Kids]
Nasty Nas Demo (RapidShare link)
Let me up something I had in the files; a Nas freestyle from the Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show circa 1990-fresh.
Below, that white guy who used to drop the N bombs’ “Back to Grill” video.
DJ Spinna has got beats. Fresh beats*. It’s a shame this production wunderkind of Jigmastas (and Stevie Wonder tribute parties) infamy doesn’t get his proper due. The above clip of him in the studio with Ski (of Camp Lo and early Roc-a-Fella infamy, not a bad producer himself) and the homie Sucio Smash chopping up Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” inspired me to write another Gumsoles. [Props to High Water Music]
Most people nowadays will know Kool & the Gang for their Pop/Crossover hits like “Celebrate” and “Ladies Night” That’s all well and good but if you’re a little savvier with your music history you will note that Kool & the Gang started with traditional Jazz leanings before delving knee deep into R&B and Funk before getting their Disco on.
Being that the group’s main players—brothers Robert “Kool” Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (tenor sax) as well as George Brown (drums), Robert Mickens (trumpet), Dennis Thomas (alto sax), Charles Smith (guitar, RIP) and Rick Westfield (keys)—were all accomplished musicians, it’s no wonder their catalog has been picked clean by scavenging Hip-Hop producers.
The song in question here (directly below), “Summer Madness,” stems from their R&B/Funk days, though they retained their sophisticated Jazz sensibilities. The instrumental tracks sweeping synthesizer and haunting melody was first heard on Kool & The Gang’s Light of Worlds (De-Lite, 1974) album.
That said, I wanted to share some of my fav “Summer Madness” flips, for the uninitiated. No one tell Premo I dropped dime please, thanks.
Gang Starr “DJ Premier in Deep Concentration”
“Summer Madness” forms the musical landscape for Premier to cut, scratch and transform with finesse, and all that mess. Word to Biz Markie and Cool V.
Pete Rock f/ Jim Jones & Max B “We Roll”
Ahh, feel the wave; when Jones and Max were best of buddies and making surprisingly good music. Pete Rock chops up “Summer Madness’” synth to the point where they’re almost recognizable, Max drops a catchy hook and Jones fills in adequately on the rhymes.
Da Bush Babees f/ Mos Def “The Love Song”
You really can’t lose early Mos Def teaming with late 90’s, underground Hip-Hop torchbearers teaming up over a Posdnous (De La Soul-did I really have to add that detail?) produced track.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (pre-Bel Air) “Summertime”
Enough of a classic that younger heads will think it’s the original.
*I’ll get around to posting that Spinna story from the late, great Scratch Magazine, one day.