Gang Starr has released their new album One Of The Best. An album that comes with tremendous pressure and expectations, it is guided by the steady hand of DJ Premier, a healthy dose of nostalgia and new verses from some of hip-hop’s best.
The LP revives the Gang Starr name, one of the most important New York rap groups of the 1990s. They released their last album in 2003, The Ownerz and then Guru and Premier had a falling out. Guru died in 2010 and over the next decade Premier contemplated how to make something that would contribute to the legacy of Gang Starr and set Guru’s kid up financially.
The LP really started to come together in 2016 when John Mosher, a producer known as DJ Solar who had a slew of unreleased material from Guru, sold 30 demos to Premier. This laid the bed for One Of The Best.
The album is a mix of Guru verses and a slew of features that helps fill out the complete record.
The album opens with a Premier moment at a show where he gets the crowd singing “The Sure Shot,” before transitioning into a great piano-laden beat with M.O.P going after anyone who tries to touch their bars on “Lights Out.”
The album balances the legacy of Guru very carefully. He gets shout outs on most songs he isn’t the main rapper, but it doesn’t get lost in praising him. The greatest tribute you can give to a dead legend like Guru is to match his wit and talent with bars up and down the album. Premier’s innovative boom bap beats sound classic and could have come from the 1990’s, but have a distinctly modern feel that most would struggle to make.
Guru remains the focal point of this record, shining on his own tracks like “Bad Names” and “So Many Rappers,” taking on the perceived competition. Guru and Talib Kewli are a perfect match lambasting the music business for supporting trash rappers with the focus of making money and not supporting good art on “Business Or Art.”
One Of The Best feels like it could have come in the few years after The Ownerz, but it also feels fitting today. Gang Starr is back in a big way, bringing a classic and refined feel to an often repetitive and copycat rap game. Stream the album below and get your copy here.