"Depending on your perspective, or perhaps even on your mood, the career of Gang Starr can be seen either as an exemplary and almost unblemished story of the ultimate in hip hop success, or a tragedy in which a talented emcee goes to his grave without ever receiving his just dues. At yet other times - perhaps most of the time - the Gang Starr saga is both at once.
The problems began as backhanded compliments. The second LP’s sound and the palette of samples Premier painted with were much admired, and brought the album plenty of attention from outside the still small hip hop world; but they were tagged as “jazz-rap”, the implication and inference being that this was a group somehow more concerned with making music to be appreciated by an intellectual elite (rightly or wrongly, this is what any invocation of jazz in the early ’90s routinely stood for) than in making hip hop music that the genre’s core fan base would be interested in. The intelligentsia claimed Gang Starr for itself, some of the praise unconsciously fostering the condescending notion that intelligent rappers interested in jazz couldn’t possibly be the sort of thing the genre’s usual fans would take notice of…”