These days, the word “classic” is thrown around as loosely as a Nerf ball at a picnic. However, we at TRU consider classics to be something which stand the test of time and have a resounding influence on their respective fields. But how do albums considered classics sound to the ears of TRU’s young blood? Aaron J. McKrell was born in 1990 and we’ve convinced him to turn his scope on a classic from the rich history of hip-hop to view it through a contemporary lens in a weekly series we call…
I kicked off 1992 with Gang Starr’s Daily Operation. Peep game to see my verdict on number 13 in the series.
Daily Operation displays Guru’s template for rapping and DJ Premier’s distinct production style. In true old school form, Guru finds way after way of telling you how great he is on the mic, and of telling other rappers how he’ll destroy them lyrically. However, he does offer substance on multiple songs, most notably “2 Deep,” which finds Guru defending Muslims who uplift youngsters in New York ghettos.
For his part, Premier uses scratches, unique sampling (such as the pouring of liquid into a glass on “2 Deep”), jazzy horns, and thick drums to create dope production. Premier’s Richard Pryor sound-bites on “The Illest Brother” are priceless. The production his this album is rarely dull.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing for the rapping. Guru’s monotone voice sometimes makes songs boring. It is hard to get excited about his lyrically impressive boasts because his delivery is so low-key, and sometimes it almost sounds like he’s talking more than rapping. This is most evident on “The Place Where We Dwell” and “Stay Tuned,” both which found me waiting for the next track. Some of DJ Premier’s beats on the album would have been better suited for a livelier emcee.
However, there are plenty gems on this album. “Conspiracy” is tailor-made for Guru’s flow and delivery, as he methodically breaks down his belief that the government conspires against black people. The song is a conspiracy-man’s (such as myself) dream. Also, “The Illest Brother” finds Guru hyped enough to make the song a certified jam. “Hardcore Composer” is Guru’s firm statement against selling out, a respectable sentiment made believable by the attitude he brings to the track.
At 18 tracks, this album is too long. Overall, I found Daily Operation to be a decent album that had bright spots, but also had too many boring cuts. My point: if the album was leaner, it would have been meaner.
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