Gang Starr just dropped their first album in 16 years. Let that sink in for a second… It comes nine years after the untimely passing of Guru. DJ Solar has been sitting on Guru’s unreleased vocal tracks this whole time, but DJ Premier just began crafting the beats for the project in 2017. Apparently he had the urn of Guru’s ashes in the studio with him.
Much like A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 album, We Got It from Here…, to hit play on One of the Best Yet is to set foot in the holy temple of hip-hop. It’s a sacred space, and before getting too amped up we gotta humble ourselves, bow our heads a minute, and show respect to the gods. So if you’re from my generation, it doesn’t feel right to critique a project like this. I’m not gonna walk into the Sistine Chapel and start pointing out where Michelangelo should have made some adjustments, or walk into a funeral parlor and tell the widow that the flowers should have been arranged a little differently.
This is nothing short of a classic Gang Starr album. It adheres to the formula precisely: neck snapping Preemo beats, razor sharp cuts of vocal snippets for the choruses, and Guru bringing that relaxed street wisdom and perspective on the shiesty rap industry.
Do the roll call for the members of the wider Gang Starr foundation and everyone is present: Jeru, Big Shug, Freddie Foxx, M.O.P. and Group Home are all on time and accounted for. Ain’t a damn thing changed.
In the current world of music streaming, where the attention we pay to new releases is often short-lived, it feels good to remember that, like diamonds, family and loyalty are still forever.