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Gang Starr: Hard To Earn (1994). Operation Mass Appeal

podcast December 31, 1969

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B. Cox reviews Gang Starr's classic fourth album Hard To Earn as it turns 30. After the critical success of 1992's Daily Operation, Guru and DJ Premier took a brief hiatus to pursue individual projects. Guru launched his Jazzmatazz series and Premier became one of the most sought after producers in industry, working with the likes Jeru the Damaja, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas and KRS-One. Coming back to record their fourth, the group wanted to prove that they were versatile and wanted to show that they could stray from their jazz-sampled sensibilities on their previous album and could rock with a different sound.

Heavily involved with the project was the Gang Starr Foundation, a collective that was aligned with the duo that included the likes of Jeru, the hip-hop duo Group Home, Big Shug, Freddie Foxx (Bumpy Knuckles), Afu-Ra among others. The project featured Jeru, both Lil Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker and Big Shug. Unlike Daily Operation, the album was produced under a wider variety of musical influences.

The album featured two classic singles: "DWYCK" with hip-hop duo Nice & Smooth (which was supposed to be originally on Daily Operation and "Mass Appeal". The album was critically acclaimed upon release and reestablished Gang Starr as a force within hip-hop. It also served as a forerunner to a number of different albums over the next 18 months that were credited as being pivotal to the New York hip-hop scene being a power center once again in the hip-hop landscape.

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Show Notes

UDiscoverMusic: "Hard To Earn": Gang Starr's Statement of Purpose


Albumism: Gang Starr's 'Hard To Earn' Turns 25 | Anniversary Retrospective


Billboard: DJ Premier talks about Gang Starr's 'Hard To Earn' 25 Years Later: "That Album, I Had A Chip On My Shoulder"


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