"Take It Personal"
By 1992, Gang Starr was still a duo on the come-up. With two albums under their belt, they still had yet to reach true greatness but it would be the first single off their third record that would catapult them into the conversations with Eric B. and Rakim, EPMD, Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock (you awake?). "Take It Personal," originally a B-side to "2 Deep" in Europe, was a clear standout on Operation--impressive given an album that featured "BYS," "Ex Girl to the Next Girl" and "I'm the Man."
Led by the single greatest breakbeat in the history of hip hop (Skull Snaps "It's a New Day") and seasoned with simplistic bloops, bleeps and a three-tone piano loop, DJ Premier's innate abilities just ooze off the record. And it wouldn't had been enough for Premier to simply loop the Skull Snaps. He added a four rapid-fire bass kicks at the beginning of the sequence, threw a snare crash on top of the top of the loop and then fortified it with this incredible trunk-rattling low-end that did nothing but induce endless headnodding (original drum break). Those minute modifications for maximum return are what made Primo one of the greatest. He knew that every break wasn't perfect, but also realized that they were a few appropriate improvements from greatness. What he did with the original break is like whipping cream. It starts out liquidous and then, through constant agitation, it thickens. Skull Snaps never sounded this good.
And, for what a Guru verse is (an emotionless, monotone snore), his verses on "Take It Personal" actually fit. He spits a verse of regret at his former lover who broke his heart, then challenges every young rappers and lastly sprays haters with a short scathing (by Guru terms) third verse. Then, the track fades before he can do any damage. And, as much as I hate on Guru, what they accomplish on "Personal" is the perfect Gang Starr track. It's like a moment in time that is undeniably dope and worthy of #24 on this list.