Gang Starr - Moment of Truth

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1998-03-30

The Moment of Truth begins with MC Keith Elam, aka The Guru, outlining the philosophy that has turned Gang Starr into one of hip-hop's most enduring, successful and respected partnerships: "What we do is update our formulas... the rhyme style is elevated, the style of beats is elevated, but it's still Guru and Premier." This "formula"--Guru's smooth delivery of intelligent lyrics over DJ Premier's addictively catchy loops and scratching--has produced innumerable classics and doesn't disappoint on this, their fifth album. The superb opener "You Know My Steez" (sampling Method Man's coarse titular quote), prepares the listener for an album of varied and typically irresistible crowd-pleasers, from the upbeat piano of "Work", to the startlingly simple bassline of "The Rep Grows Bigga" and the aggressive menace of "The Militia" (featuring Freddy Foxx and Big Shug). We even get a brief foray into Wu-Tang territory, with the staccato oriental flavour of "Above the Clouds" (featuring Inspectah Deck), and on the title track hear Guru in a more reflective mood, rapping over a maudlin, heartfelt orchestra. If there is a criticism, it's that adhering to the formula prohibits any surprises. There's really no such thing as a bad Gang Starr track: they are reliably brilliant; but by the same token they rarely deviate from their template and produce something adventurous. When they keep producing albums as good as this, though, it seems churlish to complain. --Paul Philpott

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