Picks and Pans Review: Hard to Earn

updated 04/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Gang Starr

Gang Starr makes hip hop that breaks down boundaries. On their two previous albums the Brooklyn duo helped forge the now-trendy relationship between rap and jazz. On Hard to Earn they put aside those smoky vibes and turn up the heat with rugged, street-savvy hip hop that's as hardcore as any posturing gangsta record.

What Guru lacks in ingenious rhymes he makes up for in sullen intensity. DJ Premier supplies uncluttered, tight grooves that avoid clichéd beats. Despite serious underground support, a growing rep as one of hip hop's best production teams and great reviews, Gang Starr have never been seen as true stars. Hard to Earn is their chance to seize their rightful place in hip hop's hierarchy. (Chrysalis)

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