Hip Hop Wiki
Hip Hop Wiki
Hard to Earn
Hard to Earn.jpeg
Studio album by Gang Starr


March 8, 1994


July 1992 - June 1993


D&D Studios
(New York City, New York)


East Coast hip hop, Hardcore hip hop, Jazz rap, Boom bap, Underground hip hop




Chrysalis Records / EMI Records


DJ Premier, Guru (co.)

Gang Starr chronology


Daily Operation (1992)


Moment of Truth (1998)

Hard to Earn is the fourth studio album by American hip hop duo Gang Starr, released in March 8, 1994 on Chrysalis Records. Recording sessions took place at D&D Studios in New York City from July 1992 to June 1993. Production was handled solely by DJ Premier, with co-production from Guru. It includes guest appearances by Nice & Smooth and Gang Starr Foundation members: Group Home (Lil' Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker), Jeru the Damaja and Big Shug. Musically, the album is constructed around a harder, more stripped-down sound that is distinctively less melodic than the duo's previous work. Hard to Earn is the duo's first album to carry the "Parental Advisory" label.

The album peaked at #25 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Hard to Earn spawned the four hit singles: "DWYCK" (which debuted at #25 on the Hot Rap Singles and #12 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart), "Mass Appeal" (which debuted at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100, #42 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, #10 on the Hot Rap Singles and #3 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart), "Code of the Streets" (which peaked at #83 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, #33 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and #5 on Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart) and "Suckas Need Bodyguards" (which peaked at #44 on the Hot Rap Singles and #18 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart in the United States). Music videos also were released for all four songs.

Track listing[]

All songs produced by DJ Premier and Guru.

No. Title Performer(s) Writer(s) Time
1. "Intro (The First Step) - - 0:54
2. "ALONGWAYTOGO" Guru Elam, Martin 4:13
3. "Code of the Streets" Guru Elam, Martin 3:29
4. "Brainstorm" Guru Elam, Martin 3:02
5. "Tonz 'o' Gunz" Guru Elam, Martin 3:55
6. "The Planet" Guru Elam, Martin 5:16
7. "Aiiight Chill..." - Elam, Martin 3:13
8. "Speak Ya Clout" Jeru the Damaja, Lil' Dap, Guru Davis, Elam, Heath, Martin 3:35
9. "DWYCK" Greg Nice, Guru, Smooth B Barnes, Elam, Martin, Mays 4:03
10. "Words from the Nutcracker" Melachi the Nutcracker Felder, Martin 1:29
11. "Mass Appeal" Guru Elam, Martin 3:41
12. "Blowin' Up the Spot" Guru Elam, Martin 3:10
13. "Suckas Need Bodyguards" Guru Elam, Martin 4:05
14. "Now You're Mine" Guru Elam, Martin 2:44
15. "Mostly tha Voice" Guru Elam, Martin 3:38
16. "F.A.L.A." Guru, Big Shug Elam, Guy 4:17
17. "Comin' for Datazz" Guru Elam, Martin 4:02


Intro (The First Step)

  • "Scarlet Woman" by Weather Report


  • "Check The Rhime" by A Tribe Called Quest
  • "Impeach the President" by The Honey Drippers
  • "Snow Creatures" by Quincy Jones
  • "Just Us" by Richard Pryor

Code of the Streets

  • "Little Green Apples" by Monk Higgins
  • "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss


  • "Comic Strip" by Mikey Dread

Tonz 'O' Gunz

  • "Breakthrough" by Isaac Hayes
  • "Fire & Fury Grass Roots Speech (Side One)" by Malcolm X
  • "Woman" by Three Dog Night
  • "Just to Get a Rep" by Gang Starr
  • "Never Let 'Em Say" by Ballin' Jack

The Planet

  • "The Cuckoo" by Taj Mahal
  • "It's All Because She's Gone" by Steve Davis
  • "Lyte as a Rock" by MC Lyte

Aiiight Chill

  • "Love and Happiness" by Monty Alexander
  • "Dynomite - Part I" by Tony Camillo's Bazuka

Speak Ya Clout

  • "Cucumber Slumber" by Weather Report
  • "Shack Up" by Banbarra
  • "I'm the Man" by Gang Starr
  • "Up Against the Wall" by Quincy Jones
  • "Funk It Down" by Caesar Frazier


  • "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss
  • "Hey Jude" by Clarence Wheeler and The Enforcers
  • "Funky for You" and "No Bones in Ice Cream" by Nice & Smooth
  • "Step in the Arena" by Gang Starr

Words from The Nutcracker

  • "Lock It in the Pocket" by Grover Washington, Jr.
  • "Journey from Within" by The Crusaders
  • "Long Red" by Mountain

Mass Appeal

  • "You're a Customer" by EPMD
  • "Pass Da Mic (Remix)" by Da Youngsta's
  • "Horizon Drive" by Vic Juris

Blowin' Up the Spot

  • "I Didn't Come Rhythm" by George Clinton
  • "I Didn't Come Bass" by George Clinton
  • "I'm the Man" by Gang Starr

Suckas Need Bodyguards

Now You're Mine

Mostly tha Voice

  • "Time Will Be Your Doctor" by Fuzzy Duck
  • "You Gots to Chill" by EPMD
  • "Bam Bam" by Sister Nancy
  • "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose" by James Brown


  • "Get Up and Dance" by Freedom
  • "Come Dancing" by Jeff Beck
  • "Hard Like a Criminal" by Das EFX

Comin' for Datazz

  • "Blind Alley" by The Emotions
  • "Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)" by Run-D.M.C.