Finding The GOAT Group: Gang Starr vs. The Beatnuts. Who Is Better?

“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual competition series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each match-up, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.

This match-up is between two NYC-based duos who carved out their own style and sound by keeping all of their production in-house. Both known for sample-heavy beats, the hardcore, boom-bap styles of Gang Starr take on the party-ready grooves of The Beatnuts. Both groups have influential legacies, each having over a decade of excellence, but only one gets to move on to Round 2. Vote below to make your opinion count.

Gang Starr

A DJ/producer from Prairie View, Texas and an MC from Boston, Massachusetts moved to New York, and that’s where Gang Starr would take its most critical strides. Releasing six albums between 1989 and 2003, this duo’s legacy is solidified as one of Hip-Hop’s most influential and cult-respected groups. Several iterations of DJ Premier’s production style helped define New York’s sound in the ’90s and 2000s with his way of chopping samples, creating elaborate chord progressions, and scratching choruses for emphasis. Guru had a unique approach to MC’ing that still stands out to this day, spitting sharply constructed rhymes in a calm, all-knowing spoken-word type of cadence. The voice and the hands made beautiful, cutting-edge music. Together, the duo was able to shine in the underground and influenced generations of artists. After focusing on individual endeavors in the mid-2000s, their chapter came to a close with Guru’s untimely passing in 2010, but their legacy remains timeless, as DJ Premier continues to be an in-demand producer decades after his debut.

The Beatnuts

Hailing from Queens, New York, The Beatnuts started off as a production duo before they picked up the mic and became their own supplier of rhymes. With Colombian and Dominican backgrounds respectively, Psycho Les and Juju have been known to put some Latin flavor into their beats, while also diligently sampling dusty Jazz and Funk. The ‘Nuts succeeded in creating the nod factor first and foremost, delivering original style, intoxicating vibes and street authenticity. They released six albums between 1994 and 2004, and over the years have held their own on the mic next to Big Pun, Common, and Tha Alkaholiks, to name a few. The cocksure rhymes (including MC Fashion aka Al Tariq for a short time) dealt with sex, drugs, alcohol, and outer-borough survival tactics. Some of the Beatnuts’ best tracks have been re-purposed by Pop superstars including Jennifer Lopez. While it’s been almost 15 years since their last album, Psycho Les and Juju continue to stay busy producing and collaborating with other artists, and their work in the mid-late ’90s has had a lasting impact on Hip-Hop.

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So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.