The Ownerz

Artist: Gang StarrTitle: The OwnerzRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: N. Context

The group that brought you such hits as “Manifest”, “Just To Get A Rep”, and “You Know My Steez”, Gang Starr, has returned with their latest album titled The Ownerz. Back after a 5 year hiatus, this duo of hip-hop vets finally introduces their vintage hip-hop sound into this new millennium of rap music. The question left to ponder is if their “vintage” style has now become passé.

Don’t get it wrong, The Ownerz is packing some heat. “Deadly Habitz” has a mellow boom-bap drum track and an effortless blend of horns which gives it that top notch sound listeners have grown to love and expect from Gang Starr. The title song is another classic Gang Starr track with a gritty baseline, horn and piano accompaniment along with Primo cutting up 6-7 samples to make up the chorus. Guru’s conversational style flow, while still stuck in the early 90’s, packs substance with a slice of braggadocio thugism and consciousness wrapped into one.

The collaborations (“Rite Where U Stand” feat. Jadakiss, “Who Got Gunz” feat. Fat Joe and MOP, and “Capture (Militia, Pt. 3)” feat. Big Suge and Freddie Foxx) provide for some of the better songs on the album. “Rite Where You Stand” is a virtual battle going on between Guru and Jadakiss or it’s them tag teaming their opponents in a rhyme contest. “Who Got Gunz” and “Capture” are the grimiest tracks on the album. The beats are darker and edgier than the rest and they attack the mic as if Preemo put on the beat and said, “give me your gulliest.”

The problem with the album is that after a couple of listens most of the tracks start to blend together. There weren’t any stand out tracks that we’ve come accustomed to from DJ Premier. Most of the songs were in the same key and the overall sound became as monotone as Guru’s voice. Also, some of the beats sound like they were made in the 90’s and were passed over by previous albums until now. Then, add the fact that the lyrics are above average at best and I wonder about the replay value. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. This is a solid album that any hip-hop/Gang Starr fan would enjoy, but it’s not one of their better efforts.