March 08, 2014

Gang Starr "Hard To Earn" (Album Review, 5/94)


"As the title of their much-anticipated fourth album suggests, respect and credibility in hip-hop are hard to earn and even harder to hold on to. But looking back on their collective body of work, Gang Starr has always been right on point. Every since they let it off with songs like "Manifest" and "Deep Concentration" from their debut, Guru and Premier have grown and improved, consistently pushing the artform to its highest levels and proving themselves true ambassadors of the street. It's been a long time and winding road, but their commitment and hard work have finally put them at the top of their game." Check out the visuals to "Mass Appeal" and more cont'd below...


"Though their last set, Daily Operation, never quite got its just props, it's going to be tough to front on this one - especially when you consider hip-hop's recent return to Old School values and public demand for the real shit like Wu-Tang and Jeru The Damaja. Following his top-notch work behind the boards for KRS-One, Premier comes strapped with an arsenal of subliminal sounds and loops - not to mention neck-snapping beats - that will definitely f#ck some heads up. He does some especially nasty things with the piano on "Words From The Nutcracker" and "F.A.L.A." Cont'd below...


"Meanwhile, Guru, despite his mellower jazz excursions, invites us into his "darkest, deepest thoughts," which are delivered in the dead-on monotone that we have come to know so well. Whether getting abstract on "Brainstorm" or telling true tales of his exodus from Boston to Brooklyn ("The Planet") and the dues-paying that paved the way for his success, Guru proves that he is still at heart, the ill kid. Lyrically and musically, this album shies away from all of the proven formulas and ups the ante on creativity - the way it should be done. With the rest of the Gang Starr Foundation - Jeru, Lil' Dap, Melachi and Big Shug - riding shotgun and with Nice & Smooth guesting on last year's slammer, "Dwyck," this joint has more than its share of high points. Hard To Earn is definitely a welcome breath of fresh air during this otherwise stale period of rap." - (5/94).