We don't know about you but we're loving the new Gang Starr album. We thought of doing a mix of classic Gang Starr tracks but remembered that our homie Matthew Africa (who we miss every day) did a really great one, so we decided to revisit his. Big thanks to DJ Step One for digging up the file and sending it over! (twitter.com/PaulDJStepOne)
Matthew Africa wrote this when he first put out the mix:
Gang Starr is one of my favorite acts from the 1990s. There is no rap group I listened to more in that era, although De La Soul, Outkast & A Tribe Called Quest all run pretty much neck and neck.
Still, in recent years I haven’t listened to Gang Starr much. Maybe it’s because they haven’t released any new music since 2003. Maybe it’s because in the last decade the school of hardcore hip hop that they defined stagnated and played out so hard.
For me, this mix was about rediscovery. It grew out of an episode of 2 Busy Saying Yeah [Matthew's rap podcast at the time] from a few weeks ago; after reading about Guru’s health troubles, I devoted a 2-hour episode to Gang Starr’s music. It was my first time mixing a lot of the songs in years and it felt so good, so natural, that I knew I had to turn it into tape along the lines of my previous tributes to $hort, Kells, etc.
Unlike those mixes, which I struggled with for weeks and months each, this was a breeze. I spent an afternoon figuring out the track list, recorded the mix live one evening and then spent a few days puttering with the multi-track to clean it up, add drops and get it down to CD length.
I drew tracks from all six of Gang Starr’s albums, and each is represented more or less in proportion to how much I like it: 1992’s Daily Operation tops them all with 9 selections, although 1990’s Step in the Arena, 1994’s Hard to Earn and 1998’s Moment of Truth all feature prominently with 7, 6 and 5 tracks, respectively. The first and last albums got kind of short shrift, although there were more songs I would have included from each if I hadn’t run out of space. They have one of the strongest catalogs in rap music and there were a lot of additional songs, verses and scratch parts I wish I could have included.
Big thanks to my man XJ, who laced the cover, and my main man DJ Eleven on quality control.