For all he was as a musician and an MC he was also a friend. Not a friend in the sense of speaking daily on the phone, in fact I hadn’t spoken to him for several years before his untimely passing. But in the early 90s we hung out quite a bit at industry parties and the like. We would call each other up with the location of any good party we had heard about and meet up with our respective crews to go hang out.
I sat in on several studio sessions with him as he worked on his first album with DJ Premier. When I shared with him in 1992 that my days of recording with Marley Marl were coming to an end, he introduced me to a guy named Yoram Vazan who owned Firehouse Studios on Pacific Street in downtown Brooklyn. He and Primo had been recording at a studio just around the corner and when that spot threatened to shut down, they discovered Firehouse. I wound up recording my entire 2nd album ‘Slaughtahouse’ there because of the recommendation from Guru.
My first ever trip to Los Angeles was because Guru and Premier allowed me to tag along as a roadie of sorts. They had been booked on a show in the heart of LA with Low Profile, Compton’s Most Wanted and Ice Cube. It seemed the promoter thought the name “Gang” Starr meant something else, considering the rest of the lineup. We would eventually share the same management and outside of music, spent quite a bit of time together in those days.
As I begin to think back to all the fun times we had together, the gravity of what I have agreed to tackle takes on a greater meaning. I feel a sense of responsibility and a great deal of pressure to honor his lyrics in the right way. I never really thought about how difficult it would be to learn another MC’s song until now. I have been working on the 1st verse for over a week and have it pretty close. But close isn’t good enough. I want the words to flow from my mouth as if I had written them myself. Between writing new songs for myself and various features I need to complete, I have a few more days to tighten up the first and completely memorize the second. Maybe I am taking this too seriously but in light of what Guru, DJ Premier and Gang Starr mean to Hip Hop, I don’t think so. Although I feel a great sense of pressure, I know the answer to his profound question is ME.