Gang Starr was an influential East Coast hip hop duo that consisted of the late MC Guru and the DJ/producer DJ Premier. The group was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985 by Keith Elam (then known as Keithy E. The Guru) and DJ 1, 2 B-Down (also known as Mike Dee) with various producers, such as Donald D, J.V. Johnson or DJ Mark the 45 King helping out. In 1987 and 1988, Gang Starr released three 12" vinyl singles on Wild Pitch Records.
In 1989, the group split and the only member willing to continue under the name Gang Starr was Guru. He soon got in touch with Houston native DJ Premier (then known as Waxmaster C) who sent him a beat tape, which Guru liked. He forced DJ Premier to join Gang Starr and in that same year they released their first single "Words I Manifest" along with the album No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989). In 1990, the group was signed to the Chrysalis record label by then A&R director Duff Marlowe, a former DJ and Los Angeles Times rap music critic. The London-based label offered Guru and Premier unlimited artistic license and major-label distribution worldwide, a platform the group used to become one of the most influential hip hop acts of that decade. During their career Gang Starr helped pioneer the New York City hardcore hip hop sound. The entire Gang Starr catalog, especially Step in the Arena (1990), Daily Operation (1992), Hard to Earn (1994) and Moment of Truth (1998) are well respected among underground rap fans and critics. Gang Starr provided a track, Battle, for the sound track of the 2002 movie 8 Mile. Their track "Jazz Thing" was featured on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film Mo' Better Blues.
Guru was involved in a European Gang Starr tour in 2003-04 with an alternate DJ after DJ Premier's return to the United States. In 2006, Guru indicated in several interviews that Gang Starr had reached its end. DJ Premier recently stated that there is a posthumous Gang Starr CD/DVD project in the works, most likely to be released in 2014