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Hip-Hop Classic #46: Gang Starr - You Know My Steez (Chosen by Tom Dark)

'You Know My Steez' is the lead single from Gang Starr's fifth studio album, 'Moment Of The Truth'. The album debuted at #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, going on to sell over 500,000 copies and was certified Gold by May 7, 1998. This song became Guru & Preemo's second Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1997, peaking at #76. It samples 'Flash It To the Beat' by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Joe Simon - 'Drowning In The Sea of Love' and 'Shadowboxing' by GZA.

Tom Dark: "When this track came out Gang Starr had been away for a few years, and it was during those intervening years that I’d really started listening to hip hop. As a result, the first time I heard this track, I have to admit I didn't know who it was. But, I was absolutely hooked.

The beat was bombastic and irresistible, and Guru rapped with a laid back authority like nothing I’d heard before. It converted me to a die-hard Gang Starr fan. The way that beat snaps is so fresh it still doesn't sound dated. As for Guru’s lyrics: instantly quotable from start to finish. For me, the production of DJ Premier has always been the quintessential hip-hop sound. Rich and fat beats with seamless use of vocal samples and scratching to create the hooks. Not enough rap records sound like that these days.

The album this track came from, ‘Moment Of Truth’ is arguably the pinnacle of Gang Starr’s work... Although that is an argument that's hard to settle with such a catalogue of undeniable hop hop classics. The best way to summarise the genius of this  track, and Gang Starr overall, is best left to the words of Guru himself on the album’s intro: "we have certain formulas but we update them with the times. The rhyme style is elevated, the style of beats is elevated, but it's still Guru and Premier”

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