Gang Starr was founded in 1986 by Keith Elam (then known as MC Keithy E.) along with DJ 1, 2 B-Down (Mike Dee) and various producers. However, after putting out a trio of 12″ singles on vinyl, the group’s destiny quickly took on a different form —with the original line-up disbanding. Following the initial break-up, Elam then assumed the name Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) and was sent a demo tape first introducing him to the raw talents of DJ Premier. The two began collaborating the same year they first met, with their 1989 debut record No More Mr. Nice Guy being created in a matter of 10 days and allowing them to begin securing their legacy as one of the most influential emcee-producer partnerships of all time. Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut, Spike Lee got wind of their track “Manifest” and promptly tracked the duo down, enlisting them to recreate a special cut of a jazz tribute poem by Lotis Eli over a hip-hop beat, with their track “Jazz Thing” featured on the soundtrack to the iconic director’s film Mo’ Better Blues. Gang Starr‘s catalog grew to seven studio albums over the course of 14 years, with each release consistently met with high praise, all while each artist further solidified their own respective careers. Gang Starr’s classic tracks including “Mass Appeal,” “DWYCK,” “Full Clip,” “Royalty” and many more, remain an integral part of hip-hop’s sonic history. In 2010, Guru passed away at the age of 43 after suffering from a heart attack, a full decade after being privately diagnosed with myeloma. From popularizing their jazz-rap style to helping solidify the beloved East Coast hardcore hip-hop sound, Gang Starr’s authority as groundbreaking pioneers is permanently etched in the history books.

Music is not preaching. It's just sort of painting a picture, it's just giving a view point and opinion about things going on. The music ranges from freestyle rap, competitive rap, like how when rap started out battling and just kicking rhyme skills. ...
DJ Premier: And just telling actual facts of what's going on out there. Mainly kids from the street will relate to it because they see it every day.
Guru: (Singing)
I gave myself the name Guru when I moved to Brooklyn and started MC'ing here in New York. That was back in 83 and it stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal.
DJ Premier: And always wanted to be first. When I was in school I wanted to the first in line, if I wasn't first in line I'd push the other kids out the way, stuff like that. So Premier, it's like something new, something first.
Guru: (Singing)
We sit around and listen to different things [crosstalk 00:01:30].
DJ Premier: You just know when it's right. When it's country, whatever.
Guru: Whatever elements work, we use the elements that work. That make the song put you in a mood.
DJ Premier: (Singing)
Nothing with this sampling business, we don't look at it as stealing because we like to make it sort of like a resurgence of old records that are dead now. When somebody says, "I wanna hear some of my oldies but goodies," they get back into that feeling of feeling good cause those records turned them on back in the day. So it's the same thing. It's just we reshape it to where it's more of an art form.
Guru: (Singing)
It's like a friendship and a business partnership and we have to always be conscience of the difference between them. Because, somethings can happen that can ruin one or the other. We always stay conscience of those things, those obstacles that can trip us up. Cause we ain't trying to go out like that.
Now what's up, I'm the Guru.
DJ Premier: I'm DJ Premier.
Guru: And we're Gang Starr.
DJ Premier: And we're Gang Starr. And what we checking out?
Guru: Slammin' videos.
DJ Premier: Right here, peace y'all.
Guru: Peace.

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