Showbiz and AG: More Than One Way Out the Ghetto
From Runaway Slave (Payday, 1992)

Gang Starr:The Planet
From Hard to Earn (Chrysalis, 1994)

Building off of Mal Ward’s posts from the other day, I’ve always enjoyed memoir-esque hip-hop songs as well. Call ’em hip-hop bildungsromans for all you lit majors out there.

Showbiz and AG’s “More Than One Way Out the Ghetto” has always been one of my favorite songs off their first album. I like hearing about AG’s rise and fall as a drug pusher and then turning to hip-hop as salvation. Sure, that story is old hat…now, post-Biggie, post-Jay-Z, post-[fill in your favorite rapper], but in 1991, it wasn’t as commonplace or cliche as it might seem now.

As for “The Planet,” the song is awesome in how it narrates Guru’s growth from a Boston transplant to Brooklyn with barely anything, fantasizing about his rap career while listening to Red Alert and Marley Marl, and dealing with the craziness that is east New York. Guru may not be Rakim/Nas-eque in his imagery but he paints a vivid, realistic picture of trying to come up the hard way and you feel it. It helps that Premier’s beat is bonkers, with those bluesy guitar riffs ripping throughout (Steve Davis, holla).