Hard to Earn is the fourth studio album by American hip hop duo Gang Starr. It was released on March 8, 1994, by Chrysalis and EMI Records in North America. The album featured the singles “Mass Appeal”, (their first charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart), “DWYCK” (featuring Nice & Smooth), and “Code of the Streets”. Guest appearances on the album include Group HomeJeru the Damaja, and Big Shug. At the time, all were part of the Gang Starr Foundation, which made the album a stepping-stone for future DJ Premier-helmed projects by Group Home and Jeru. Hard to Earn received acclaim and commercial success upon release.

Hard to Earn


Studio album by Gang Starr

Released March 8, 1994

(US) Recorded1992 – July 1993

Studio D&D Studios (New York City)

Genre East Coast hip hop hardcore hip hop

Length 58:57

LabelChrysalis/EMI Records
7243 8 28435 2 8

ProducerDJ Premier (producer)
Guru (co-producer)

Gang Starr chronology

Daily Operation(1992) Hard to Earn (1994) Moment of Truth (1998)

Singles from Hard to Earn

  • “Dwyck”
    Released: December 29, 1992
  • Mass Appeal
    Released: February 8, 1994
  • “Code of the Streets”
    Released: May 17, 1994
  • “Suckas Need Bodyguards”
    Released: October 4, 1994

Professional ratings

Review scores

Source Rating


Robert Christgau [8]


Rolling Stone⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐[9]

The Rolling Stone Album Guide⭐⭐⭐⭐🌙[10]

The Source⭐⭐⭐⭐[11]

The single “DWYCK” recorded in 1992 also featured hip hop duo Nice & Smooth. The track “Now You’re Mine” originally appeared on the 1992 soundtrack White Men Can’t Rap.

Hard to Earn is also the duo’s first album to carry the “Parental Advisory” label.

Track listing

All music is composed by DJ Premier, Guru.

No. Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Length

1.”Intro (The First Step)”Christopher Martin, Keith Elam(Instrumental) 0:54

2.”ALONGWAYTOGO”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 4:13

3.”Code of the Streets”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 3:29

4.”Brainstorm”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 3:02

5.”Tonz ‘O’ Gunz”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 3:55

6.”The Planet”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru5:16

7.”Aiiight Chill…”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamA skit featuring NasA.G.Masta AceMC EihtDJ ScratchMister Cee 3:13

8.”Speak Ya Clout”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru, Lil DapJeru the Damaja 3:35

9.”DWYCK”Christopher Martin, Keith Elam, Jeru Kendrick Davis, James HeathGuru, Nice & Smooth 4:03

10.”Words from the Nutcracker”Christopher Martin, Keith Elam, Greg Mays, Daryl BarnesMelachi the Nutcracker 1:29

11.”Mass Appeal“Christopher Martin, Keith Elam, Jamal FelderGuru 3:41

12.”Blowin’ Up the Spot”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 3:10

13.”Suckas Need Bodyguards”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru, Melachi the Nutcracker 4:05

14.”Now You’re Mine”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 2:55

15.”Mostly Tha Voice”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 3:38

16.”F.A.L.A.”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru, Big Shug 4:17

17.”Comin’ for Datazz”Christopher Martin, Keith ElamGuru 4:02


Weekly charts

Chart (1994)Peak position

UK Albums (OCC) 29

US Billboard 200 25

US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) 2

Year-end charts

Chart (1994) Position

US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) 58

Singles chart positions

Year Song Chart positions

Billboard Hot 100Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks

Hot Rap SinglesHot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 1994


Mass Appeal 6742103

Code of the Streets-83335

Suckas Need Bodyguards–4418

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