While Gang Starr’s musical catalog has come to a halt with the unfortunate passing of Guru in 2010, the legacy of the collective lives on.
Today marks the 20-year anniversary of GS’s third group effort, Daily Operation. Continuing his experiment with jazz-entrenched samples, Premier’s stylistic evolution was evident on cuts such as “The Illest Brother,” “Soliloquy of Chaos,” and “Take It Personal.” Topically, the album showcased a variety of subjects that laid the groundwork for street-oriented, yet socially aware, early ‘90s East Coast rap. “Conspiracy” dissected institutional racism, “Take Two and Pass” acknowledged the duo’s affection for the sticky, while “The Place Where We Dwell” was an ode to the group’s newly claimed home of Brooklyn.
The album also introduced Gang Starr Foundation members such as Lil’ Dap of Group Home, and Jeru the Damaja—who would garner much fanfare two years later with “Come Clean”—on “I’m the Man,” where Premier provides a different beat for each MC’s verse, redefining the concept of a traditional posse cut.
Though it failed to amass commercial success during its release, 20 years after its debut, the album remains supreme as a hip-hop classic.
The only addition that could’ve made the album reach a bigger audience was the inclusion of “DWYCK,” the party anthem featuring Nice & Smooth. DJ Premier, who spoke with the writer early last year, recalls why the single failed to make it on Daily Operation.
“It was a B-side joint [for ‘Take It Personal’]. We did ‘Down the Line’ on the Nice & Smooth album, so we were like, ‘Y’all do one with us.’ It was supposed to be on Daily Operation, but the label wasn’t rolling with it. They just wanted to leave it the way it was. The buzz, however, was so big, we re-mastered it and tacked it onto the album, but then [the label] just didn’t do the re-pressings. I think we would’ve gone, maybe even platinum. ‘DWYCK’ was that big.”
Regardless, a record like “DWYCK” was never again replicated, and its absence allowed for the grittiness of Daily Operation to remain as a thematically complete and stylistically defining piece of work.
20 years have passed, but its influence remains. Today, XXL encourages the listening of Daily Operation, and it’s not a threat, so take it personal. —Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)