Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gang Starr "The Ownerz" (Vibe Magazine, June 2003)


"For the generation of hip-hoppers who preserved through puberty with the help of conscious kings like KRS-One and Chuck D, but came of age stuck on the street nihilism of Kool G Rap and, later, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr represents a stripped-down and indispensable aesthetic. Few groups embody good old-fashioned hip hop like Keith "Guru" Elam, 36, and Chris Martin, aka DJ Premier, 34, who still encompass the breadth of hip hop before it splintered into subgenres - each too good to recognize the others. The duo has maintained a blemish-free catalog for 14 years, including classics like Step In The Arena and Daily Operation. Should they falter, let alone fall off, as most of their contemporaries have, it would truly indicate the end of an era. But Gang Starr's formula is both straightforward and timeless. And as evidenced by The Ownerz, their first studio album in five years, the two have no intention of switching it up this late in the game."


"You know their steez: Songs like "Riot Akt" fit right into the canon of Gang Starr greats. Melancholy horns accent a diesel bass line, while Guru laments that "real criminals got immunity." In his simple but pleasant cadence, the 5'8 MC again puts substance before slickness - and the results are refreshing... Each of The Ownerz' songs, however, stands on its own as a respectable Gang Starr effort... While The Ownerz does not spark any new rap trends, it brings back the power of the basics in an ever-evolving rap music landscape. For the first time in five years, a generation of Gang Starr disciples can take ownership of their music, and claim it as a moment of truth." - Vibe, 6/03

Friday, March 08, 2019

DJ Filthy Rich "Hard To Earn" (25th Anniversary Mix)


From DJ Filthy Rich, "DJ Premier & Guru (R.I.P.), the duo more popularly known as Gang Starr, released their 4th album 'Hard To Earn' on March 8, 1994. Tired of being labeled as 'jazz-rap', Preemo decided to move away from sampling jazz records, and instead opted for a stripped down style of production. The result was a raw, harder hitting sound, and arguably their best album ever. 'Hard To Earn' is near & dear to me, so I had to get back in the lab and record this 25-year tribute to this legendary album. I've gathered their hits, album cuts & b-sides, and combined them with some original samples, interview soundbites, and my own custom blends. ARTWORK by @tooncrew"

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

RZA "The RZA Hits" (Press Kit, 1999)


"Razor Sharp / Epic presents The RZA Hits, fourteen ear-melting highlights from the everlasting Wu-Tang legacy. Compiled here for hip-hop fiends, clueless non-believers, Wu completists and rap newcomers are some of the most memorable cuts out of the Clan compound. The RZA Hits offers living proof of the power, magnitude and influence the RZA and his cohorts have had on hip-hop since they burst from the underground back in 1992. Sprinkled with engaging narration courtesy of the RZA, the RZA Hits extracts from six entries in the mighty Wu-Tang group/solo album catalog: their classic debut, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers); Method Man's Tical; Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version; Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Link; GZA's Liquid Swords, and Ghostface Killah's Ironman." - via Razor Sharp/Epic Press Release, 1999.


Of all the classic cuts included, the only track not produced by the RZA is "Brooklyn Zoo," which was done by True Master & Ol' Dirty Bastard. The compilation was released in 1999, and aside from maybe "Wu Wear" and "Winter Warz," which was snuck on Ironman after the Don't Be A Menace soundtrack, any real head been had all these cuts. But, if you need an excuse to revisit these classic cuts, today I'd start with "Ain't Nuttin Ta F Wit" below and fall down the YouTube rabbit hole.