June 24, 2020

Gang Starr "The Ownerz" (June 24, 2003)

"I declare Gang Starr among the most consistent acts in hip-hop. Ever since Step in the Arena and Daily Operation laid down the law for East Coast hip-hop back in '91 and '92, Gang Starr have slowed their pace with an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" aesthetic, releasing albums every four or five years between Guru and DJ Premier's increasingly busy extracurricular schedules. And while they haven't broken any new ground since those early 90s classics, their records have been astoundingly solid in bearing the standards set by those canonical discs. In the five years since Moment of Truth, Guru and Premo have watched as the face of mainstream hip-hop hardened into a countenance chiseled out with bling-bling braggadocio and self-hating diatribes. Fortunately, for a duo that's been hard from day one - don't let that No More Mr. Nice Guy cover fool you - there's a distinct possibility their credibility could translate into commercial success, almost as if the rap world has finally caught up with a group that was ten years ahead of its time. The combination of Guru's tough, streetwise lyrics and delivery and Premier's highly polished production fits in perfectly as an honest alternative to today's heavy rotation; it's a situation Gang Starr are well aware of, judging from several lyrical and interlude reminders that pop up throughout The Ownerz.... Premier's jazzy horn breaks underscore Guru's eloquent manifestos with assured refinement on every single track they turn on their own.... And while it's probably too late in their career for a breakout hit record, more people are definitely going to know who they are, which will hopefully translate into the same veneration from the establishment they've enjoyed from their fans since back in the day." - Pitchfork (7/03) // Gang Starr's 6th LP, The Ownerz, was released on this day in 2003. R.I.P. Guru.

The official music video for the LP's 1st single, "Skills"...