Gang Starr

Members Real Name D.O.B
Guru Keith Edward Elam July 17, 1966 Boston, Massachusetts
DJ Premier Christopher Edward Martin March 21, 1966 Houston, Texas

The group was founded in 1987 by Guru (then known as Keithy E. The Guru), DJ 1,2 B Down, Mike Dee and various producers, such as Donald D, J.V. Johnson or DJ Mark the 45 King helping out. In 1987 and 1988, Gang Starr released three 12" vinyl singles on the legendary Wild Pitch label.

In 1989, the group split and the only member willing to continue under the name Gang Starr was Guru. He soon got in touch with DJ Premier (then known as Waxmaster who sent him a beat tape which Guru apparently liked. He invited DJ Premier to join the newly founded group and in the same year they released their first single "Words I Manifest". With that line up, Gang Starr went on working together for six albums, a 2CD "greatest hits" compilation and numerous singles and soundtrack contributions. Another compilation was released after the group's departure from Virgin.

During their career Gang Starr helped pioneer the New York City hip hop sound. The entirety of Gang Starr's catalogue, especially Step in the Arena (1991), Daily Operation (1992) and Moment of Truth (1998) are well-respected among critics and hip hop heads alike. Their track "Jazz Thing", featured on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film Mo' Better Blues, helped establish the sound of jazz rap.

The group's current status is unknown. It is unconfirmed whether it still exists or if it has broken up. Instead of issuing a proper press release, both members have made often contrary statements on their own in various print, radio, TV and online magazine interviews.

On September 1, 2005, Guru has revealed in an interview with the hip hop online magazine that the group doesn't exist anymore, but that it has ended instead of breaking up. This has finally cleared up the rumours that came up first on the European Gang Starr tour in 2003/2004 when DJ Premier suddenly went back to the US and Guru continued touring under the group's name with another DJ. However, in an December 21, 2005 interview [2] with the online magazine, DJ Premier has denied that Gang Starr is history; he said it's rather a long break than a real break up. In a more recent interview [3] from April 20, 2006, with the online magazine, Guru has stated he would not work with his previous partners anymore. In a newer interview [4] he stated that Gang Starr has reached the peak and that he is out of the project. To add even more to the confusion, DJ Premier said in a November 21st, 2006 interview [5] with the XXL Online Magazine "If I confirm it, then it’s official. If I don’t confirm it, then we still together." Their song "Just To Get A Rep" was recently featured in an ESPN College Game day advertisement.


  • 1989 No More Mr. Nice Guy (Chart: 83)
  • 1991 Step in the Arena (Chart: 19)
  • 1992 Daily Operation (Chart: 14)
  • 1994 Hard to Earn (Chart: 2)
  • 1998 Moment of Truth (Chart: 1 RIAA: Gold)
  • 1999 Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr (Chart: 11 RIAA: Gold
  • 2003 The Ownerz (Chart: 5)
  • 2006 Mass Appeal: Best of Gang Starr