In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth album, DJ Premier sat down with Billboard to offer some behind the scenes stories to many of the album’s standout tracks. Here are a few choice quotes from that interview.


On “Militia” (Feat. Big Shug & Freddie Foxx a.k.a. Bumpy Knuckles)…

I remember Bumpy Knuckles came in wearing all mink everything and said, “Yo, when I spit my verse, I gotta pull my guns out and aim them.” He was serious! I told him that I was going to duck in the event that those guns accidentally went off. He pulled out the twin glocks, spit his verse in one take and said, “I’ve got a meeting to go to” and left! He came in at 10am, pulled out his guns, kicked his verse and then said he hoped we did a video —which we did — and then was gone.


On “Moment of Truth”…

The day we went back after he beat the case was the day he wrote the song “Moment of Truth.” When I heard his lyrics, I remember how emotional it was. We were going through deaths around us. The passing of my accountant Mary Coleman who was the first person I shouted out on “In Memory of…” was particularly devastating for me. She was beyond my accountant. She was my mother away from home.

That song made me want to cry. I’m not really a crying type. But to hear those lyrics and knowing everything that he was going through at that time was very, very emotional. Today, I perform it with my band and every time I damn near fall apart, but in a good way. Like when James Brown would drop to his knees when he performed. I didn’t know what to expect until he did it.



ESPN’s new African American culture website “The Undefeated” recently spotlighted the artwork for Gang Starr’s classic Daily Operation. The site spoke to photographer Matt Gunther about the photo shoot that led to the legendary cover and here are a couple of excerpts.

As happens in the creative process, ideas changed. Soon it was decided that the cover would have a Last Supper theme — as Gang Starr affiliates Group Home and Jeru The Damaja were featured on the project. “We rented an old mansion on Madison Avenue [in New York City] because we … needed a big space,” says Gunther. “We were supposed to shoot during the day … had the venue from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.” Gang Starr and their crew of about 20 didn’t show up until 6 or 7 that night. Label representatives fumed. “We slept during the day while waiting for them,” he said. And when they did arrive — Gunther wasn’t caught off guard by the amount of marijuana smoke and malt liquor that followed the crew into the mansion. “It was,” he says, “a fun, s— show.”

Read the rest at The Undefeated.

Jakk Frost & DJ Premier Pic backstage at PRhyme Show (Philly)


Jakk Frost and his beard take on Gang Starr’s classic “Form Of Intellect” for the “Spoiler Alert” freestyle. And some words from DJ Premier himself…

From Gang Starr’s Classic LP: “Step In The Arena” Philly’s Beardgang General Jakk Frost Spit A Raw Freestyle Over “Form Of Intellect” Instrumental.

I Pressed About 150 Copies Of The Instrumentals On Vinyl And They Have Leaked To The Streets So Frost Got A hold Of It With The Pops & Cracks…

Frost Rips This Beat WIth Lyrics And Flows That Make You Wanna Hit Repeat Over And Over to Catch It All.

Gotta Rock It Don’t Stop…



The latest installment of “Magnum Opus” from good folks at Complex covers the making of Gang Starr’s legendary “Mass Appeal.” With input from the likes of DJ Premier, Big Shug, Jadakiss, Fat Joe, Stretch Armstrong, journalists Chairman Mao and Noah Callahan-Bever as well as managers Patrick Moxey and Phat Gary, you’ll get the full story of one of hip hop’s classic records.

There are few rap acts that stuck to their guns quite like Gang Starr. Comprised of DJ Premier the late, great Guru, the duo’s sound came to define the purist hip-hop standard of the ’90s. They crafted a style that was true to New York despite the fact that neither of them actually hailed from New York. The duo never sold millions and millions of records, but they never made a bad album either. While they made plenty of great songs, in 1994 they released “Mass Appeal”—the quintessential Gang Starr record and a song truly worthy of a Magnum Opus treatment.

We got with DJ Premier, Guru’s close friend Big Shug of Gang Starr Foundation, and the group’s managers Patrick Moxey and Phat Gary to talk about the making of the song. What we found out is that despite the fact that the song made fun of rappers who aspired for mass appeal, Guru’s actually aspired for commercial relevance himself. But, of course, the group never abandoned their aesthetic. Ironically, “Mass Appeal” became the group’s biggest hit thanks in part to Premier’s hypnotic beat.

We also talked to Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and Stretch​ Armstrong about the group’s lasting impact and legacy. And to round things out, veteran hip-hop journalist Chairman Mao and Complex’s own Editor-In-Chief Noah Callahan-Bever explained how Gang Starr took the road less taken to achieve their legendary status.

RIP Keith “Guru” Elam.



It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since we have lost G.ifted U.nlimited R.hymes Universal., otherwise known as GURU and one half of Gang Starr. But his musical legacy will forever live on. With that, the good folks at Cookin Soul put together this brilliant mix that pays homage to GURU.

Keith Elam aka Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) was a big influence for us, his Jazzmatazz series showed the world the fusion of Jazz & Hip-Hop paving the way to other styles like neosoul… Not to mention Gangstarr, still one of our favourite groups of all time… tomorrow April 19th will mark the 5th anniversary of his death…

This is how we pay tribute to his legacy…
One for the GURU

“Time is definitely moving on so check your watches and your clocks”


Gang Starr: The True Heads Merch Mix

This is for the true Gang Starr heads that not only love the classic singles, but love the rarely played album cuts, B-Sides, rare collabos and not your regularly mixed records.

We wanted something to go along with the launch of our Official Gang Starr Shop and we will continue to keep the legacy going. Shouts to GURU and Lil Guru(KC), Lana, Justin, the whole Elam family and the Gang Starr Foundation for staying strong throughout the whole loss of our soldier, father, lyricist and MC”. Love can never be shattered and that’s what we bring everyday all day.

-DJ Premier

Gang Starr: One Of The Best Yet

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