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Wax Poetics

20th Anniversary: Gang Starr / Labelle

20th Anniversary: Gang Starr / Labelle

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WATCH: THE STORY BEHIND THE COVER

FRONT COVER: GANG STARR

Released as one of the last shots of true NYC underground before the oncoming wave of hip-hop commercialism, Hard to Earn was an artistic rebirth that came as Gang Starr was cresting, an intense batch of fresh material that felt like a deliberate growth spurt. “Moment of Truth is probably our most important album,” says DJ Premier, “but Hard to Earn is my favorite Gang Starr album.”

BACK COVER: LABELLE

As the 1960s faded away and the ’70s shattered even the veneer of innocence, three talented singers—Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash—shed their BlueBelles name, swapped their floor-length dresses in favor of denim, and reinvented themselves as a gritty soul trio. Over the course of six albums in six years, Labelle continued to grow, transforming into fierce and funky pop stars in wild costumes, and ultimately ascended to ubiquity with their Allen Toussaint–produced megahit “Lady Marmalade.”

 

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