Friday, 3 July 2015
Oliver: Gang Starr - Check the Technique (21 December 1991)
Strictly speaking this track shouldn't be here because it was on a file which I didn't use when making the selections from this show, but I was so struck by the incredible string sample, taken from Marlena Shaw's version of California Soul, that I decided to accept such glorious serendipity and include it.
Another reason why this track shouldn't be here is that its subject is one of my bugbears: music about making music. Authenticity seems to be the beef here as Gang Starr's MC, Guru checks out the competition and finds it wanting. He speaks of "respect" for the form and as with the very best hip hop, he comes with a mission statement:
"Cos I'm chopping, punting punks just like footballs
Cos I'm gonna put y'all back in the mess hall.
To clean up the slop and stop all the bull crap
Your rap's crazy wack, so don't try to pull back.
You're lacking the vernacular, I'm slapping ya and capping ya
And closing your jaw, cos you can't mess with Gang Starr.
The cool, the premier, always going with blessed beats.
Dance ya ass off, Homes, check the technique."
Gauntlet thrown down emphatically! In its final verse, the track goes on to curse those who have ended up bringing hip hop/rap to how it is widely perceived in the public eye today:
"It makes me violent, man, to see all these PMC wannabes
Making some cheese for dumb companies.
They've lots of money but no idea what is rap and what is rope.....
...I've got a brain cell so I can stay paid well."
(apologies for any misheard lyrics)
It's marvellous stuff which does full justice to its source material and throws genuine insight into the creative process. Sadly, many of the things within the genre that Guru rages at here, have only got worse in the quarter of a century since he wrote this.
One of Ashford and Simpson's many finest moments.
Videos courtesy of Supa Graph (Gang Starr) and Gnaf Utopie (Shaw)