Gang Starr, rapper Keith "Guru" Elam and producer Christopher "DJ Premier" Martin,
were among the earliest hip-hop musicians to follow
Public Enemy's lead into social commentary, but, most importantly, their
No More Mr Nice Guy (1989), containing the manifesto Jazz Music
was one of the first experiments at mixing jazz and rap.
Step In The Arena (1990), their masterpiece
(Just to Get a Rep, Love Sick,
Step in the Arena, Execution of a Chump),
refined that approach
and Daily Operation (1992),
with Take It Personal,
Soliloquy of Chaos
and Ex Girl To The Next Girl,
was no less inventive while being more accessible.
Hard to Earn (1994), with
Code of the Streets and the proud self-tribute of Mass Appeal,
recycled the same praxis without any new element.
Moment of Truth (1998), with You Know My Streez, was instead
an ambitious attempt at completely redefining their aesthetics.
Full Clip (1999) is a double-disc retrospective.
Martin's extensive use of jazz sampling and percussion loops revolutionized the way "raps" ought to be orchestrated.
After Gang Starr split,
Keith "Guru" Elam released one of the milestones of jazz-hop fusion,
Jazzmatazz Volume 1 (1993), where he used guest jazz musicians as
samples of jazz music, but with a humane voice
(Transit Ride, Trust Me, Loungin',
Sights in the City). In fact, Guru laid the mechanical beats first,
and then let the jazz musicians play on top of it, thus de-facto restraining
the degree of their improvisations.
It was the first of a series of star-studded solo albums:
The New Reality (1995),
Guru died in april 2010 at the age of 47.
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