Sunday, June 24, 2018

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