Gang Starr originally consisted of Guru, Big Shug, and Shug’s younger brother DJ Suave D with the Boston trio actually forming the group in Atlanta, Georgia. Shug was later sent to prison, causing DJ Suave D to quit the group and Guru re-forming the group with MC Damo D-Ski and DJ 1 2 B-Down a.k.a. Mike Dee. They worked with producers such as Donald D, J.V. Johnson and Mark The 45 King on demos they recorded as early as 1986. Between 1987 and 1988, Gang Starr released the singles “Believe Dat,” “The Lesson,” and “Movin' On” on Wild Pitch Records before this second iteration of the group split in 1989.
Guru came across a beat tape from Texas DJ/producer Waxmaster C, who later became known as DJ Premier. The two joined forces in Brooklyn, New York, and helped define the sound of East Coast hip-hop in the 1990s with their jazzy production on singles such as “Words I Manifest” and “Jazz Thing,” as well as their harder boom bap singles like “Just to Get a Rep” and “Take it Personal.”
The duo released six studio albums together between 1989 and 2003 before going their separate ways. Their greatest hits compilation, Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr, was released in 1999, four years before their final album they recorded together, The Ownerz.
Unfortunately, Guru died from cancer complications on April 19, 2010 at the age of 48. On September 20, 2019, DJ Premier released the Gang Starr single “Family and Loyalty” featuring new lyrics from J. Cole alongside previously unreleased lyrics from Guru. The single would precede One of the Best Yet, an album consisting of 16 Gang Starr tracks released on November 1, 2019.