The fact that Mass Appeal: The Best of Gang Starr is the second greatest-hits compilation released by Virgin simply attests to the importance of the duo, one of the first great MC/DJ-producer teams in hip-hop (and both of who, incidentally, have gone on to do well as solo artists, Guru with his whole Jazzmatazz series and DJ Premier most recently on Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics). But while 1999's Full Clip was two discs of 31 tracks (some of which were remixed versions), Mass Appeal limits itself to one disc of 20 songs, and includes almost all of their singles ("You Know My Steez" is the most notable exclusion), which means that while the scope is actually greater, spanning all six of their studio albums, the depth is less. Though the tracks are not listed chronologically, the jazz-based beats of Premier and Guru's relaxed flow are highlighted and strong in each. Gang Starr staples "Take It Personal," "The Militia," "Just to Get a Rep," "Mass Appeal," "Ex-Girl to Next Girl," and "Step in the Arena" (all but the latter also found on Full Clip) are found on the compilation, as well as lesser-known though not obscure cuts like "Check the Technique" and "B.Y.S." More serious fans may be intrigued by the bonus tracks, "Natural" and "Tha Squeeze," but considering that both are also found on the 2004 Japanese import of The Ownerz, Mass Appeal is probably a better pickup for fans who've heard about the glory and genius of the group but don't own all the albums.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
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