May 01, 2021

Gang Starr - The Ownerz (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 7243 5 80247 0 8

© 2003 Virgin/EMI Records
Quite a few chart-topping rappers came and went during the five years between Gang Starr's fifth and sixth LPs. So many, in fact, that it's tempting to think that commercial rap had taken a turn for the worse simply because the duo hadn't been back to tend the fires since 1998. Angry and intelligent as they'd ever been, Guru and DJ Premier came right back with guns blazing, ridiculing radio DJs and program directors as "f*cking robots" and proving their case with an album full of tough, kinetic hip-hop that blows away anything on the rap charts. Guru, never the most talented rapper on the East Coast, tightened his flow considerably to match his cutting verse, and DJ Premier only continued waxing lyrical with turntables and samplers. (Compared to his outside productions during the interim, it's clear he was holding back for Gang Starr a few can't-miss productions: "Put Up or Shut Up," "Skillz," the title track.) Guru's wordplay and imagery are vivid, whether he's relating yet another inner-city tale ("Sabotage"), excoriating the record industry ("Deadly Habitz"), or casually making a play for a girl ("Nice Girl, Wrong Place"). Surprisingly, most of the guest features are pedestrian, including the lame guns-and-gangstas posturing of "Who Got Gunz" featuring Fat Joe and M.O.P. or "Capture (Militia Pt. 3)" featuring Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx. Also a letdown is Snoop Dogg's "In This Life...," the return of a favor Premier did for him on two tracks for his Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ LP of a year back. (The only great collaboration is Jadakiss' full-flowing rap on "Rite Where U Stand.") All the Gang Starr trademarks are in place, from Premier's perfect upchoruses to Guru's reedy voice cutting or instructing, and sounding better than ever.

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tags: gang starr, the ownerz, owners, 2003, flac,