It has been 16 years since Gang Starr released their last album together (2003’s ‘The Ownerz’) and in that time the duo went their separate ways before Guru sadly passed away.
Most fans will have sadly accepted that this was the end for the group who released plenty of classic tracks over the years, but DJ Premier has worked hard to deliver a new project, honoring his late friend, by using unreleased Guru vocals.
Of course, the in-studio chemistry between Guru and Premier cannot be replicated on this album, but Premier has done a good job in getting as close as possible.
Opening with a blistering intro (‘The Sure Shot’), Premier knows he needs to come out the gate swinging, so who better to enlist than long-term Gang Starr collaborators, M.O.P. (‘Lights Out’)?
It is not just M.O.P. whose presence recalls earlier times as Gang Starr Foundation MCs Jeru Tha Damaja (‘From A Distance’), Group Home (‘What’s Real’ with Royce Da 5’9), Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx (‘Take Flight (Militia Part 4)’) all step up.
There are also a few less-expected appearances, such as Talib Kweli (‘Business or Art’), Q-Tip (‘Hit Man’), and J. Cole on the single ‘Family and Loyalty:’
The beats stay on point throughout and there is even a brave step out into R&B territory with ‘Get Together,’ which has divided fans with the Ne-Yo feature, but certainly still hits – especially when Nitty Scott comes through to round the track off:
There are also several skits paying homage to Guru and Gang Starr in general, along with four songs where Guru’s rhymes are left to stand on their own over Premier’s production.
If there are any complaints, they are that the album is pretty short – clocking in at around 38 minutes – but that is perhaps understandable given the conditions it was created under. As already mentioned, ‘One of the Best Yet’ also seems to lack the level of chemistry that much of Gang Starr’s earlier work delivered but, again, this is understandable and Premier has certainly worked to make things sound as authentic as possible.
Unlikely to go down as one of the group’s best albums of all time, there is still more than enough firepower to keep fans happy, making it a bittersweet treat for Gang Starr fans.
You can check the album out yourself, here: