I must admit that I was a bit surprised that the rest of the brothers have neglected Gang Starr from their music collections, though it excites me that I’m welcoming you all to something new.
Gang Starr consisted of two members, MC Guru and DJ Premier. By the point that this album was released in 1998 both as a group (this was their 5th album) and side projects (Guru’s Jazzmazztazz and DJ premier well know beats through the famed D&D studios) Gang Starr were arguably at the top of their game. This album had ALLOT of expectations around it from all levels. The questions was could classic Hip Hop live in 1998?
If you recollect in the 1998 it was a time of champagne and fur coats in rap videos, the back end of the West Coast Vs East Coast beef and the accent of No Limit records….. essentially there was allot of whack rap being released. It was also a time that independent hip hop was gaining traction. The rise of the internet was allowing underground independent hip hop record labels such as Rawkus, ABB Records and Fat Beats distribution to have a wider reach. Very much at the forefront of boom bap backpack rap Gang Starr whom had allot to prove with this album. Their record label wanted radio plays, they wanted to keep their street cred. The result could go either way. Could they still engage the mainstream whilst keeping the backpackers happy?
This album for me was a masterstroke in making a complete album without losing credit. The NY underground boom bap is heavily represented with tracks like ‘You Know My Steez’, ‘The Milita’ and ‘Work’. On the other hand they dipped their toes into the mainstream with tracks like ‘Royalty’ and the reflective ‘Moment of Truth’.
Guru’s voice commands respect and his lyrics span from insight to straight battle raps. Look up the lyrics for ‘You Know My Steez’. I must have listened to that track 100 times in the first day I had the album. As for the beats that DJ Premier came with, and the cuts….. to this day are some of the best!
This album brings back allot of memories for me, I was listening to it when my plane was approaching London when I came over to UK for ‘a few months’ in 2001. Inspecta Deck’s verse on ‘Above the Clouds’ being one of my favourite of all time and apt as the plane broke through the cloud cover of the UK to expose London. ‘Work’ is still one of my favourite tracks to get me going when I run. The tingle that I got the first time I heard ‘You Know My Steez’, and how I lost my shit when I first hear Freddie Foxx on ‘The Militia’.
I still come back to this album, it’s a classic. Give this some time and enjoy. There’s lots to get stuck into with Moment of Truth.
This one is for brother Joseph.