March 08, 2021

Gang Starr "Hard To Earn" (Press Kit, 3/8/94)

Gang Starr's classic album Hard To Earn was released on March 8, 1994 via Chrysalis. The following info is taken from their album's press kit. It says, "It might be argued that the entire history of hip hop is about nothing more (and nothing less) than the varieties of flash. Gang Starr, one of the lone exceptions to this rule, have earned the deep respect and abiding affection of the hip hop nation on the dynamic virtues of discipline and style. Comprised of writer/rapper Keith Elam (aka The Guru) and DJ/producer Christopher Martin (aka DJ Premier), Gang Starr not only pioneered their own individual fusion of improvisational energy and intricate musical genius but also embracing varying levels of hip hop both in the United States and internationally. And all the while, as a team and individually, Gang Starr have remained true to the essence of hip hop in funky beats and rhymes and to their roots in the black community. With Hard To Earn, the duo's fourth album, Gang Starr demonstrate the payoff that comes of dedication and straight up skill. As ever, the source of Gang Starr's inspiration remains the cultural underground. More specifically, life on the streets of Brooklyn and the everyday bop of today's urban youth. The dual emphasis on experience and reality defines both Guru, with his unique flow, and Premier with his symphonically intricate production..."

"Born in Boston, Guru began to dedicate himself to rap as a youth in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Eventually he earned a degree in business management from Atlanta's Morehouse college -- and then moved to the East New York section of Brooklyn, where he's lived ever since. "I put myself in a position to know what I was gonna be rhyming about," he says. "I felt, 'If I'm gonna do this, then I gotta live it.'" Guru distinguished himself last year as the producer of Jazzmatazz Volume 1, an experimental fusion of jazz and hip hop featuring the legendary Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Courtney Pine, Ronny Jordan, French rapper MC Solaar, and is in the process of putting together Jazzmatazz Volume II. ... Premier, a lifelong Brooklynite (born in Houston, TX), who studied at Prairie View A&M University, has come into his own as a top independent producer in hip hop, having produced tracks for Heavy D's Blue Funk, KRS ONE's Return Of The Boom Bap, Nasty Nas's Illmatic, and for forthcoming albums by Slick Rick, Rakim, Special Ed, Branford Marsalis, Jeru The Damaja, and the Group Home. Introspective yet revealing in his musical sensibilities, Premier makes use of just about every musical genre -- jazz, classical, rock, and gospel -- when creating his signature works. Premier was hailed by The Source for his ability to weave together "elements of jazz, fusion, blues, and hip hop to create a completely unique sound and style." Continued below...

"Hard To Earn is naturally informed by Guru and Premier's unique sound and style. "Alongwaytogo" finds the Guru stressing self knowledge: "It's a long way to go when you don't know where you're going / You don't know where you're going when you're lost." "Code Of The Street" is a brilliantly-detailed description of present day life in the ghetto (and of the mechanics of car jacking, in particular) that ends with Guru asserting his place in the mix: "F#ck turnin' my back to the street scene. It gives me energy." "Tonz O'Gunz" makes it's point by describing the absurd justifications and often deadly results of gun ownership. Gang Starr further demonstrates their underground prowess on tracks like "Aiight? Chill," "Blowin' Up The Spot," and "Mass Appeal." Clearly, Gang Starr's longtime dedication to the game have secured them as pillars of a hip hop community that gives them much love for relegating a distinct and consistent creativity. This is Gang Starr - always keeping with the real." - Press Kit, 1994. Enjoy this classic LP celebrating its 27th anniversary today!