Gang Starr: Guru (rap vocals); DJ Premier (programming, scratches). Additional personnel: Lil Dap, Jeru The Damaja (rap vocals). Recorded at D&D Studios, New York, New York. Audio Mixer: Yorum Vazan. Recording information: Calliope Productions; D & D, New York, NY. Few groups in hip-hop have remained as consistent as Gang Starr, much of whose product is regarded as having classic or near-classic status. DAILY OPERATION is another such collection. Gang Starr’s MC Guru paired up with super-producer DJ Premier in the late ’80s; heads began turning with their first smash, NO MORE MR. NICE GUY’s “Manifest,” in 1989. DAILY OPERATION is an unparalleled blend of street-smart rhythm and carefully woven jazz samples. Guru is at the top of his game, sharing his social insights with a generous helping of street knowledge and wit. Tracks like “Much Too Much” and “Take It Personal” illustrate the duo’s hit-making formula, as does “I’m the Man” a collaboration which introduces Gang Starr Foundation members Jeru The Damaja, and Li’l Dap of Group Home. DAILY OPERATION amply illustrates Gang Starr’s importance in the history of hip-hop.
On their third outing, Guru and Premier continue to deliver intellectual hardcore, mixing deft rhymes with serious beatology. Premier continues to mine the jazz vaults, uncovering some seriously dusty grooves, with which he concocts some of the best minimalist hip-hop to ever be committed to wax. Just listen to “The Place Where We Dwell.” Made up of nothing more than a looped drum track and scratching, it illustrates the less-is-more aesthetic to a T. Guru once again lets loose with the monotone flow that is his trademark–a flow that tastes like slow-roasted butter. Furthermore, jams like “Ex Girl to the Next Girl” prove that there is such a thing as a good hip-hop love song that exudes street cred rather than syrupy wackness. The album is especially noteworthy for containing the progressive “I’m the Man,” which marked the recorded debut of both Jeru the Damaja and Little Dap. Plus, “Soliloquy of Chaos” not only gets the Mensa award for word choice but also serves as an eloquent condemnation of the violence that had become de rigueur at hip-hop shows. –Spence Abbott
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