Gang Starr, Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr

Gang Starr
Charting the evolution of a style

Few rap acts can assemble a decade's worth of decent material, let alone one that sounds as seamless as Gang Starr's 1989-99 retrospective Full Clip. This two-disc set charts the evolution of a style: Premier with some of the greatest feats of sampling that hip-hop has ever known, wringing something funky and menacing out of the most unlikely sources; atop it all, Guru's assured, accessible "ill monotone," the perfect complement to his partner's chaotic compositions. "Words I Manifest (remix)" — the only entry from the transitional No More Mr. Nice Guy — is an index of Gang Starr's early approach, an extended loop of "A Night in Tunisia" backing Guru's stern truth-saying. They found their stride on 1992's Daily Operation, the no-nonsense piano slugs of "B.Y.S." and "Take it Personal" exemplifying their grimy, blunted style. Over their next three albums — classics all — they would perfect an aesthetic that felt coherent and complementary, traditional yet modern. Guru never sounded right rhyming over anyone else's beats, and it's hard to imagine anyone else commanding "You Know My Steeze," "Code of the Streets" or "Mass Appeal" with such unflappable calm. There are few glaring omissions, and with two strong additions to the Gang Starr canon — the gutter bounce of "All 4 Tha Cash" and the triumphant "Full Clip" — the "best-of" collection became yet another staid formula the duo would remake for their own.