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.