Gang Starr
Gang Starr2


Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.


Hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Years active



Wild Pitch, Chrysalis, Virgin

Associated acts

D.I.T.C., Ed O.G., Gang Starr Foundation, Group Home, Jeru the Damaja, M.O.P., Rakim, Reks, Termanology, Wu-Tang Clan

Past members

Gang Starr was an American hip hop duo from Boston, Massachusetts. It consisted of producer DJ Premier and rapper Guru. The duo released a string of high-regarded hip hop albums, beginning in with the release of their debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy in 1989. Based in Brooklyn for most of its existence, Gang Starr associated with the New York hip hop scene and are credited in assisting with a resurgence of popularity in East Coast hip hop.

Relations between the pair became strained while working on their 1994 album Hard to Earn, and eventually, the group split up indefinitely in 2006. Guru died in 2010 from cancer.


Original group Edit

The original Gang Starr group was founded in Boston, Massachusetts by Guru (then known as MC Keithy E.) and DJ 1, 2 B-Down (also known as Mike Dee) with various producers, such as Donald D, J.V. Johnson or The 45 King helping out, their earliest recordings were in 1986 where they made various demos. In 1987 and 1988, Gang Starr released three 12" vinyl singles on Wild Pitch Records.

Breakup and partnering with DJ Premier Edit

In 1989, the group split and the only member willing to continue under the name was Guru. He got in touch with Houston native DJ Premier (who performed under the name Waxmaster C) after he had sent him a beat tape, which Guru liked. He convinced DJ Premier to join Gang Starr and in that same year, they released their first single "Words I Manifest" along with the album No More Mr. Nice Guy. In 1990, the group was signed to the Chryalis record label by then A&R director Duff Marlowe, a former DJ and Los Angeles Times rap music critic. The London-based label offered Guru and Premier unlimited artistic license and major-label distribution worldwide; a platform the group used to become one of the most influential hip hop acts of that decade. During that career, Gang Starr helped pioneer the New York City hardcore hip hop sound. The entire Gang Starr catalog, especially Step in the ArenaDaily OperationHard to Earn and Moment of Truth are well respected among critics and underground hip hop fans. Gang Starr produced a track, Battle, for the soundtrack of the 2002 movie 8 Mile. Their track "Jazz Thing" was featured on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film Mo' Better Blues.

Guru was involved in a European Gang Starr tour in 2003-04 with an alternate DJ after DJ Premier's return to the United States. In 2006, Guru indicated in several interviews that Gang Starr had reached its end.

Death of GuruEdit

In February 2010, Guru suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and died on 19 April 2010. Solar, a long-time collaborator with him, said Guru chose not to go public with the diagnosis of myeloma that was made in 2000. According to a statement released by his PR company after his death, Guru appeared to have fallen out with DJ Premier seven years prior to his death and did "not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name, likeness, events, tributes, etc." The validity of the statement continues to be heavily questioned by Guru's family and many hip hop fans.

Gang Starr FoundationEdit

Both members of Gang Starr had deep roots in the New York hip hop scene, despite hailing from Boston (Guru) and Houston (Premier), and have each worked with several artists.

The Gang Starr Foundation was a loose collective of various people who have worked closely with the group, through either Guru's now-defunct Ill Kid label, DJ Premier's production work or the management company that Gang Starr was represented by, Empire Management. Members of the Gang Starr Foundation include Afu-Ra, Jeru the Damaja and Group Home.


Studio albumsEdit

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