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Gang Starr consist of the East Coast Hip Hop duo of DJ Premier and The Guru. Together they came together as a highly influential act to follow on from the success of a production/rapping pair in Hip Hop (most prominantly Eric B. & Rakim). This is their 1989 debut album, and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" gets them displaying what they have to offer in this format.
1. "Premier and The Guru"
The two come with a funky offering to get things going, and they really get things going as they Primo gives some of the most lively beats from the album, and it motivates the Guru to come up with suitable raps to fit this high energy of things. Its a great way to introduce their style to the masses.
2. "Jazz Music"
You get a dedication to the style of music whihc basically paved the way for all other black musical styles, and this is pretty rare to see. However since the East Coast scene (with acts such as the Native Tongues) taking lots from Jazz at the time, it seemed relavent to take it back and give a shout out to its founders who made this all possible. The Jazz Rap style shines through, but I'm not really a fan of it to be honest.
3. "Got U"
This energetic one seems to show exactly what they are about as it gets them coming with some of the most fun stuff as the utilise a sample of James Brown whilst they come with a jazzy cut, complete with a breakbeat backing to match all that the tune revolves around. it is one of my favourites from the whole thing
4. "Words I Manifest"
This is one of the singles from the album, and I found that the way that it takes on James Brown's "Bring It Up", is where it gained all of its power from. On this The Guru is given a chance to come out with some highly-complex lines to fully display his lyrical capabilities. It is a banger of a cut, and one of their most well-known.
You get a high-energy breakbeat-led track by them, and for me ist was all abut the performance of Premier for coming up with such a strong mix with B.T. Express and Cutris Mayfield work used to come up with what was required to get the crowd moving. The Guru is nothing more than a hype man here, and you don't really pay that much attention to his participation in it.
6. "DJ Premier In Deep Concentration"
DJ Babu of Dilated Peoples recently did his own personal verison of this to similar effect. It gets Primo on a track by himself to simply display what he can do as a Turntablist, and he comes up ith the goods as he takes on samples of his biggest influences: Kool & The Gang (for the funky Jazz), Eric B & Rakim (for their groundbreaking "Paid In Full), and DJ Grand Wizard Theodore (who pioneered the scratch).
7. "Positivity" (Remix)
This is a big improvemnt on the originall recording (which is found at the end of the album) as it gets a much more uplifting chorus, in which DJ Primo takes on additional samples, and this was exactly waht was need to take the first version of it to a greater level of effectiveness.
8. "Manifest " (Remix)
I found that this remix, as opposed to the "Positivity" one, was a pretty weak, re-recording of it all as it it basically the one before, but changed only by having DJ Premier insert his signature DJ techniques, such as scratches and transformers into it, but I thought that this Turntablist interpretation was a poor take on it all.
9. "Conscience Be Free"
This one doesn't have any samples in it, and it gives it a lot more freedom. You have a funky composition of the beats as Premier shows what he can do on the drum machine whe at a high tempo, and the results of it are very strong, and give them the chance to just do what thy what with their material.
10. "Cause and Effect"
This one is all about Guru's rhymes, and in it you have him coming out with some of his best lines whilst doing one towards the haters. He slips in more of the Gangsta Rap-styled content when doing it, and it forces you to take notice of what is said as he is so in-your-face.
11. "2 Steps Ahead"
Here you get Premier working amazingly well alongside the Guru Keithy E as he does los of transforming and scratches to assit him when he decides to go for soem more speedy raps, to match the high tempo of the production. Even more James Brown material is used, and it all works into it all without being forced.
12. "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
I found this one is be a big tune off the album, and as the title track to the thing, it should do just this. You get The Guru killing it off with his raps as he goes for some Gangsta Rap (which was still in its early form), and it shows what the violence in modern rap music came from, and to be honest, this is far from as literal as the genre has it all today.
DJ Mark The 45 King gets on this one for the production, and "The 900 Number" creator comes up with something to completely change the direction of things with his strongly-contrasting way of approaching it all. It does more to show how The Guru is able to adapt to different things, and he does quite well with it all.
Brass Construction's "Changin'" leads this one, and gives it a funky melody to work with. Once this has been established, The Guru comes to bring a few words to motivate the listeners as he expresses the optimism he possesses, and wishes to share with others. I woudln't say that it does its job all that well, and the remix is much better at getting this across.
I'm aware that this album was highly influential in what it did, however I can't say that what they did was all that effective.you can tell what they were aiming to do, but it rarely reaches its full potentail (in my eyes anyway). I wouldn't say its one of the must-have of the Golden Age in Hip Hop, but I expect others to have differing opinions to mine.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Premier & The Guru
2 Jazz Music
3 Gotch U
6 DJ Premier in Deep Concentration
7 Positivity [Remix]
8 Manifest [Remix]
9 Conscience Be Free
10 Cause and Effect
11 2 Steps Ahead
12 No More Mr. Nice Guy