The Influence of Gang Starr on Jazz Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Gang Starr was one of the most influential groups in hip hop history, and their impact on jazz music is often overlooked. In this blog post, we’ll explore how Gang Starr’s musical style helped shape the sound of jazz rap.

Who was Gang Starr?

Gang Starr was an hip hop duo originating from Brooklyn, New York, United States that consisted of rapper Guru and DJ/producer DJ Premier. They are widely regarded as one of the most influential groups in the hip hop genre. Their musical style combined elements of jazz, soul, and funk with hardcore rap.

What was their impact on Jazz music?

While Gang Starr was not a jazz group, their music was certainly influenced by jazz and had a significant impact on the genre. The band incorporated elements of hip hop, jazz, and funk into their own unique sound, which helped to pioneer the jazz rap subgenre. Although they were not the first to combine these genres, they were one of the most successful and influential groups to do so.

In addition to their musical influence, Gang Starr also helped to popularize jazz rap and bring it to a wider audience. Their 1989 debut album, No More Mr. Nice Guy, is considered by many to be one of the classic albums of the genre. It includes such iconic tracks as “Just to Get a Rep” and “Take It Personal,” both of which are considered staples of the genre.

Although they were not strictly a jazz group, Gang Starr’s impact on the genre is undeniable. Their innovative sound helped to pave the way for other artists who would later experiment with similar styles, and their popularity helped to bring jazz rap into the mainstream.

Who are some of the artists they influenced?

Gang Starr was a hugely influential hiphop duo in the late 80s and early 90s. Not only did they help define the sound of hiphop, but their music also had a big impact on the world of jazz. Many of today’s top jazz musicians count Gang Starr as one of their biggest influences. Here are just a few of the artists they have inspired:

-Terence Blanchard
-Roy Hargrove
-Nicholas Payton
-Wynton Marsalis
-Greg Osby

What albums are considered their best work?

Gang Starr is considered one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time, and their impact on jazz music is undeniable. While they only released a handful of albums during their career, each one is already considered a classic. Here are some of their most essential albums.

1992’s “Daily Operation” is often cited as their best work, and it’s easy to see why. The album is a perfect blend of jazz and hip hop, with tracks like “Take It Personal” and “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” showcasing the group’s exceptional beats and rhymes.

“Hard to Earn” from 1994 is another standout album, featuring the now-classic track “Mass Appeal.” This album showcases Gang Starr’s more experimental side, with tracks like “Code of the Streets” demonstrating their mastery of both jazz and hip hop.

Finally, 2000’s “The Ownerz” was the group’s last album, and it remains one of their most beloved. The title track is an instant classic, and the album as a whole is a perfect send-off for one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time.

Why is their music still relevant today?

Gang Starr was an American hip hop duo that consisted of DJ Premier and the late MC Guru. They are regarded as one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time. Their musical style was unique and innovative, and they are credited with helping to shape the sound of jazz rap. Even though the group disbanded in 2003, their music is still relevant today. Here are three reasons why:

1) Their music is timeless.

One of the things that makes Gang Starr’s music so special is that it doesn’t sound dated. In a genre like hip hop that is constantly evolving, it’s easy for music from even just a few years ago to sound dated and stale. But Gang Starr’s music has a timeless quality to it that allows it to still be enjoyed today, more than 20 years after it was first released.

2) They were ahead of their time.

Gang Starr were pioneers in the world of jazz rap, and their influence can still be heard in the music of modern artists like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. They took the traditional sounds of jazz and combined them with the cutting edge sounds of hip hop to create something truly unique. At a time when most rap groups were trying tosound tough and macho, Gang Starr’s laid-back coolness was a refreshing change of pace.

3) They had great chemistry.

One of the things that made Gang Starr so successful was the great chemistry between DJ Premier and Guru. Premier’s innovative production style complemented Guru’s smooth lyricism perfectly, and together they created some of the most memorable tracks in hip hop history. Even though Guru passed away in 2010, his legacy continues to live on through the music of Gang Starr.

What made them unique?

Gang Starr was a hip hop duo made up of the MC, Guru, and the DJ, Premier. They are considered by many to be one of the most influential groups in not just hip hop, but in all of music. They were known for their complex lyrics, which often incorporated jazz concepts and terminology, as well as their progressive production style. But what made them truly unique was their ability to bring together seemingly disparate genres and create something new and fresh.

Guru and Premier met while they were both living in Boston in the late 1980s. At the time, Guru was part of a group called Gang Starr Foundation, which also included rappers such as Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx (now known as Bumpy Knuckles). The foundation laid the groundwork for what would become Gang Starr’s signature sound: a melding of East Coast hip hop with jazz and R&B.

In 1989, the duo released their debut album, No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album was well-received by critics and fans alike, but it was with their sophomore release, Step in the Arena (1991), that Gang Starr truly began to make their mark on the music world. The album featured several of the group’s now- classic tracks, including “Just to Get a Rep” and “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.” With each subsequent release—1993’s Daily Operation, 1994’s Hard to Earn, 1998’s Moment of Truth—Gang Starr only solidified their reputation as one of the most innovative and respected groups in all of music.

What do critics say about their work?

Critics have praised Gang Starr’s work for its innovation and influence on jazz music. AllMusic’s Steve Huey wrote that the group “pioneered the New York hip-hop jazz scene.” Gang Starr’s work has also been praised for its raw and honest depiction of inner-city life.

What are some of the best tracks?

There are many great tracks by Gang Starr, but here are some of our favorites:
-“Jazz Thing”
-“1/2 & 1/2”
-“Code of the Streets”
-“Mass Appeal”

What’s the legacy of Gang Starr?

Gang Starr is considered one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time. They were one of the first to successfully blend rap and jazz, and their unique sound has influenced a generation of artists. Despite their popularity, the group only released two albums before disbanding in 2005. Nevertheless, their impact on music is still being felt today.

Further reading/listening

If you want to explore Gang Starr’s influence on jazz music further, here are some recommended tracks and albums:

Track: ‘Moment of Truth’ by Gang Starr
Album: ‘Moment of Truth’ by Gang Starr
Artist: Jazzmatazz (Guru’s jazz side project)

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