Gang Starr performing in Hamburg, 1999.
|Origin||Brooklyn, New York, USA|
|Genres||East Coast hip hop, jazz, jazz rap|
|Labels||Wild Pitch Records, Chrysalis Records, Virgin|
|Associated acts||Gang Starr Foundation, M.O.P., Ed O.G., Nice & Smooth, Wu-Tang Clan, Termanology, Rakim, Reks, D.I.T.C. Big L|
|Past members||Guru (deceased)
The group was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985 by Keith Elam (then known as Keithy E. The Guru) and DJ 1, 2 B-Down (also known as Mike Dee) with various producers, such as Donald D, J.V. Johnson or DJ Mark the 45 King helping out. In 1987 and 1988, Gang Starr released three 12" vinyl singles on Wild Pitch Records.
In 1989, the group split and the only member willing to continue under the name Gang Starr was Guru. He soon got in touch with Houston native DJ Premier (then known as Waxmaster C) who sent him a beat tape, which Guru liked. He invited DJ Premier to join Gang Starr and in that same year they released their first single "Words I Manifest" along with the album No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989). In 1990, the group was signed to the Chrysalis record label by then A&R director Duff Marlowe, a former DJ and Los Angeles Times rap music critic. The London-based label offered Guru and Premier unlimited artistic license and major-label distribution worldwide, a platform the group used to become one of the most influential hip hop acts of that decade. During their career Gang Starr helped pioneer the New York City hardcore hip hop sound. The entire Gang Starr catalog, especially Step in the Arena (1990), Daily Operation (1992), Hard to Earn (1994) and Moment of Truth (1998) are well respected among underground rap fans and critics. Gang Starr provided a track, Battle, for the sound track of the 2002 movie 8 Mile. Their track "Jazz Thing" was featured on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film Mo' Better Blues.
Guru was involved in a European Gang Starr tour in 2003-04 with an alternate DJ after DJ Premier's return to the United States. In 2006, Guru indicated in several interviews that Gang Starr had reached its end.
DJ Premier recently stated that there is a posthumous Gang Starr CD/DVD project in the works, most likely to be released in 2014.
Premier also confirmed that he is working on a Gang Starr biopic along with Guru's sister Patricia Elam.
Death of Guru
In February 2010, Guru suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and died on April 19, 2010. Solar, a long-time collaborator of the artist, said Guru chose not to go public with the diagnosis of myeloma that was made in 2000. According to a statement released by his PR company upon his death, Guru appeared to have fallen out with DJ Premier seven years prior to his death and did "not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name, likeness, events, tributes, etc." There is speculation that the letter was not written by Guru, but was actually composed by his business partner Solar The validity of the statement continues to be heavily questioned by Guru's family and many of his contemporaries within the Hip-Hop culture.
Gang Starr Foundation
Both members of Gang Starr had roots in the New York hip hop scene, despite hailing from Boston (Guru) and Houston (DJ Premier), and have each worked with several artists.
The Gang Starr Foundation was 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. Members of The Gang Starr Foundation included Big Shug, Afu-Ra, Jeru the Damaja, Krumbsnatcha, Ed O.G., and Group Home.
- No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989)
- Step In the Arena (1991)
- Daily Operation (1992)
- Hard to Earn (1994)
- Moment of Truth (1998)
- The Ownerz (2003)
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 371. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- "AllHipHop.com : Features". Web.archive.org. 2006-06-13. Archived from the original on 2006-06-13. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
- DJ Premier: New Gang Starr Album And DVD In The Works. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- After 'Compton' Succsess, DJ Premier Eyes Gang Starr Biopic. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
- "Rapper Guru dies after battle with cancer". cnn.com. 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- "New York rap star Guru dies at 43". BBC News. 2010-04-20.
- "Gang Starr rapper Guru's family question 'death bed letter' | News". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-05-12.