August 17, 2008

Gangstarr - Daily Operation (May 5, 1992)

Daily Operation, Guru and DJ Premier's third attempt to take over the hip hop landscape, was released in 1992. With it, Gangstarr made a valiant effort to implement a newer sound onto the masses (well, at least the masses who picked up their first two albums), one that sounded a bit more like the hip hop beats and melodies folks were used to, but with the jazzy influences tucked away, hidden nicely within the tracks, so that listeners wouldn't know what hit them until they realized that they already liked the goddamn song.

Guru, a rapper whose lyrical skill has never really been questioned, continued to evolve, working concepts such as conspiracy theories, love, moving on, violence, and flat-out fucking anger into his rhymes, with the monotone that we all know so well still firmly in place. On Daily Operation, though, he does something unprecedented (for the Gangstarr catalog, at least): he allows other rappers to spit with him. Lil Dap (who would later be half of the reason a lot of hip hop critics consider all of DJ Premier's instrumentals to be fucking wasted on Livin' Proof, the debut disc from his duo, Group Home) and Jeru the Damaja (who would later release some bonafide classics of his own) were essentially the Gangstarr Foundation's weed carriers at the time, but their verses on Daily Operation garnered them an instant fanbase.

While Daily Operation didn't move enough units for Guru and Primo to give up their day jobs and purchase private islands and elephant butlers, it sold more than their last effort, Step In The Arena (which had actually sold more than their debut, No More Mr. Nice Guy), so their career was maturing nicely, and the critical acclaim for their hit singles helped convince the duo that they had more to prove, which would lead into even more hit singles, but we'll get to those when we get to those.

Let's begin.

A very short musical interlude that leads nicely into...

The beat is relatively simple, if a bit dull, but Guru's ode to Brooklyn is otherwise pretty damn sweet.

This track is pretty boring. Primo still has his jazz influences in his back pocket, and he tries his best to create hip hop compositions with jazzy concepts instead of jazz beats invented for a rapper to spit to, like some of his previous work, but this song is one of those efforts that just doesn't hit.

I'm relatively certain I'm in the minority here, but while I love Guru's lyrics on here, I've always hated hated hated Primo's instrumental. I don't believe that I've ever written that about a Primo beat before, and trust me, I'm just as surprised as you.

Now this is more like it. This song is simply fucking awesome. Almost theatrical in its execution , and Guru's attention to detail in his storytelling (a tale that decries random acts of violence at hip hop live shows) is brilliant. I don't need to say any more, but I will: how cool is it that a rap song uses the word "soliloquy" in its title?

Guru brings in some guests for the first time on a Gangstarr disc, and humbly allows Lil Dap and Jeru the Damaja (especially Jeru the Damaja) to steal the show. Primo switches up the beat for each contributor, with only Guru's choice sounding weak. (Maybe that's why Guru comes off as the worst of the three?)

It was nice of Primo to include an intermission before getting back into the nitty gritty.

It's kind of cool that Primo worked the sound of a phone ringing (the sound that you hear when you call somebody, anyway) into the instrumental. This is one of those songs in the Gangstarr catalog that is a classic (for good reason), but is always overshadowed by their other work. You two should give it another shot.

9. 2 DEEP

10. 24-7/365
A quick interlude. Nothing really special here.

Jeru only appears in the introduction to this song, but to be honest, he wouldn't have sounded good over this beat anyway. However, Guru sounds quite capable of ripping shit nicely, indeed.

This song is okay, but I tend to stay away from conspiracy theories set to hip hop beats, as I'm paranoid enough as it is.

Sounds like an outtake from Step In The Arena. It's on you if you feel that's a good thing.

For a DJ Premier production, oddly plain.

15. B.Y.S.
This song is simply the balls. With his monotone, it takes a special Primo beat for Guru to sound threatening: here's a fine example. The fact that "B.Y.S." stands for "bust yo shit" is also pretty damn amusing.

And then we're presented with this shit.

I don't remember ever requesting Guru to sing the praises of pot. Did you? (points accusatory finger)

This isn't bad, but the part of the track I liked the most was its title, which actually encourages Gangstarr's fans to look for their future work. (It turns out that there was a valid reason to stay tuned: we'll get to that at a later date.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: With Daily Operation, Guru and DJ Premier almost have all of the ingredients needed for a hot hip hop album, but the recipe doesn't quite cook up properly. While the inclusion of guests certainly adds much to the proceedings, as do the infrequent appearances of a confrontational Guru and Primo beats that are more about the boom-bap than what he's supplied previously (prior to 1992, mind you), there are too many songs that blend in together, both subject matter-wise and music-wise. Ultimately, it would take the duo one more album to get everything mixed together right, but Daily Operation is the closest they've gotten thus far to what they are clearly capable of.

BUY OR BURN? As there are only a handful of great songs on here, I would recommend a burn. However, I'm not fucking around: when I say "great songs", I mean great songs, and they are worth tracking down.

BEST TRACKS: "B.Y.S."; "I'm The Man"; "Soliloquy Of Chaos"; "Take It Personal"; "No Shame In My Game"


Read all of the other Gangstarr posts by clicking here.


  1. Classic record. The remix to Ex Girl to the Next Girl has a much iller beat but doesn't fit the vocals at all. Back in the day in one of the issues of the source it was said that The Illest Brother was meant for the Juice soundtrack but didn't make it in time. Good review.

  2. Mr. AquariusAugust 17, 2008

    I;ve been in an east coast mood as of late, and i think max just supplied me with my next direction.

  3. This is a classic album.I dont know what the hell goes on in your wack ass reviewer mind.U try to find something wrong in all the great albums why dont u review another genre or sumthin.This is the last time im visiting this site the only thing good is the title and i cant believe u still havent reviewed any slum village PEACE!

  4. Slum village fails, but Daily Operation is a classic. It is my only serious contender to Tribes Low Down Theory, all the songs are listenable (minus Take 2 & Pass). This album is not a single collection, its like a massive jazz piece.

  5. I just listened to this on the way to work. It's still their best album in my opinion. It fit into '92 very well and has aged nicely like all of their 90's albums. And 'Ex Girl to Next Girl' was my theme song back then in college!


  6. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessAugust 18, 2008

    I've questioned Guru's lyrical skill hundreds of times and probably will for the rest of my life. He's not terrible (unless he's rapping about lemonade) but he rarely impresses. Topical? Yes. Lyrical? No. I purchased all but the first two Gangstarr albums but being "conscious" doesn't guarantee being a lyrical wizard.

  7. Burn? you must be high.

    I remember watching Take it Personal live on some late night show and thought it was the shit. It was weirder that they were pushing this song while Next to Ex was the single out at the time. Which, btw, has an AMAZING beat, so yeah I am surprised that you dont like it. I didnt exactly like the selection of "The girls look sooo good". And the written lyrics on the album sleeves said "Next Girls look soooo good", and thats BS. Was that scratched off of Chi Ali's track?

    You totally fucked off Guru's implementation of a new style of rappin with "Stay Tuned". It came off really comfortable and very different. What a great way to finish the album!

    Take Two and Pass... wtf is wrong with a weed song? nothing. He was just telling about a daily operation and "not advertising". That line alone is nuts.

    The only burnable Gangstarr album is their first one.

  8. I understand that this is your opinion but this is literally an album with classic status. I don't know what they hell you are looking for in a hip-hop album but this album has all the elements of a great album. Your reviews are really awful...

  9. You know, I always thought Guru was one of the weakest, if not the weakest, "legendary" 90s rapper.

  10. I stopped reading this review after I read you didn't like the 'Ex To The Next' beat.

    Seriously dude, what ARE you looking for in a hip-hop album?

    Your reviews used to be on-point, but now it's like . . . I don't know man, you're scaring me.

    I mean, you recommend buying Tim Dog- but not this classic?

    Bad form.

  11. what?!? he recommended Tim Dog?!

    hahahahaha... damn man!

    I gotta remind myself that you are just another on of us.

  12. ummmmm!!! how old were you in 92??
    at 22 ..... around my way we only
    JUDGED great albums (tapes) against
    great albums like 'MECCA & The Soul' that came out that same summer...well,opinions are just that..opinions.I copped this the day it hit the record such thing as burning or downloading..the only thing to compare 'Daily Op' to was...
    'Step In..' and 'No More Mr..'
    Also go back and do your homework and listen to 'Check The Technique'
    if you thought Guru was never lyrical????

  13. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessAugust 20, 2008

    I wrote the original comment questioning Guru's lyrical skill. I don't think he's wack or anything but he's always been a bit too literal for me. I feel like there's not too much poetry in his rhymes, just bragging and some real life plain talk. Overall. I realize there are exceptions; I own 5 Gangstarr albums. But he's more of a workmanlike, solid rapper in my opinion. That certainly has value. I guess I just prefer the Rakim/Nas/Wu-Tang school of rapper that flavors his boasts, philosophies, and experiences with poetic allusions and imagery and cryptic, esoteric references.

    As for Max's evaluation of Daily Operation, in one of the very first posts Max said that one of the purposes of this blog is to see how classic albums hold up over time. To that end, it doesn't really matter if Daily Operation held it's own against Mecca and the Soul Brother amongst your friends in 1992. It's all about how Max thinks it sounds today. It's just some dude's opinion. It may be a self righteous, presumptuous, smug opinion but that's part of what makes this blog great. The resulting comments from outraged readers are good, too. You don't have to stop listening to Nas because Max isn't too high on him. Besides, he did say that there are 5 great songs on this album which is usually considered enough to warrant a purchase.

    I hope people don't think that Max caved in to reader pressure when he recommends purchasing Hard To Earn.

  14. If your cousins were smoking some weed in your basement and came up with this, then it's a different story. But in the Gangstarr catalogue this album as a whole isn't exactly solid

    Take it personal is GOLD

  15. Greetings to all of you.

    Well... Daily operation is in my opinion the album that made GANGSTARR grow to a respectful group. It's very good all in all. The beats are great and the lyrical content is what fans expected in '92: weed, more curse words etc etc. Not a bad combination, I think.

    I don't understand why Guru's rhyming skills are questioned... He's a guy with a soulful, laid back voice, with his own style. Something like Too Short, in a way.


  16. Classic album right here. Don't listen to this bitch ass faggot, buy this shit. Now go review Hard to Earn bitch.

  17. yo seriously nigga you need to wake the fuck up this conspiracy shit is real nigga, that song, guru is telling the truth

  18. burn yourself, idiot, this album is classic

  19. I second the felonious vocalist. MY pov however is that this album is a bonafide classic and if it isn't in your collection you're missing integral hip hop.