Gang Starr Represent The Old School Era On Their Final LP The Ownerz | Album Review

gang starr the ownerz.jpg


The Ownerz is the sixth and final studio album from the duo DJ Premier and Guru. It was well received at its release in June of 2003. It featured 4 singles and the album peaked on the US Billboard 200 at the 18th spot, and on the  R&B/hip-hop chart at the 5th spot. 

They "stepped in the arena" pun intended, with the tried and tested formula typical of Gang Starr production. Featuring smooth jazz or funk-infused samples with fittingly hard-hitting or soft drum and bass. Some tracks are more the banger type with funky sample beats and more lively lyrics by Guru. While other tracks are slow and chill and Guru's lyrics are more thoughtful. 

Guru is smooth and silky as usual with his delivery, no extra fluff, at times waxing poetic about various topics such as fake studio gangsta's, modern rappers, inequality in society and so on. 
Premier is cutting and catchy with his sample choice and does his well known crisp scratching on the choruses. 

On track two "Put up or shut up"  it features a funky instrument sample that goes well with the drums. Here Guru is dissing mainstream rappers lifestyle. Also featured is a solid guest appearance by Krumbsnatcha. On the next track "Werdz From The Ghetto Child"  Premier samples a funky piano. It's a short but sweet track that is fast paced with an aggressive
verse by guest rapper Smiley the ghetto child.



Track five "Rite Where U Stand" Premier presents a piano that rolls nicely through the track and a classic funky bass line. Guru gets the track started. Guest rapper Jadakiss takes care of the hook on this track and spits some nice rhymes on his verse
"When it comes to beef, he don't want do nothin' but cook/ As soon as the chrome scope him/ right there, two in the dome,smokin'/Kiss keeps funeral homes open". 

The track "Skills" has some on-point lyrics by Guru as he battle raps furiously over this old school vibe track. The popping bassline and interesting melody drives the track along nicely. 
It's not too hard imagining a battle rap on a New York street corner with a simple boombox on this track. The track "Deadly Habits" has a New York vibe with its smooth horn throughout which makes this a silky smooth sounding track. Guru Spits over the beat about having to watch yourself around every corner as he goes on about people lacing drinks at clubs, 
people owing him money, brothers doing dumb crimes. Smooth street knowledge raps by Guru on this track.

Track number nine "Peace Of Mind" Dj Premier intro's the track by ridiculing the "Fucking robot" radio DJ's mindlessly playing "radio friendly" hip-hop that producers urge them to play. Playing "shit" as Premier puts it. Here Gang Starr criticizes the radio-friendly hip-hop of the time, and the DJ's presenting hip-hop in this fashion. The track features a subtle piano and a gritty sounding string instrument that fuses to the beat in a chilling way. Guru sounds especially sharp on this one.

Track eleven "Capture (Militia Pt.3)" features Big Shug & Freddie Foxxx. This beat hits hard. Big Shug intro's the song with a solid verse and Freddie Foxxx kills it on his verse as well. There's a menacing sound playing in the background giving this track an intense vibe. Premier skillfully scratches samples into just the right spot on the track. This is for sure to be an intense live concert song.

Track twelve "PLAYTAWIN"  is a melodic song that flows well with a sweet piano sample. The bassline also flows nicely with the drums. Premier offers catchy scratching on the chorus as he uses a Guru Rhyme  "Yall cats know we always play to win". Guru battle raps nicely over this track, reminding every rapper where it's at. Track seventeen "The Ownerz" is a Superb track by Premier, it features some slamming horns and what sounds like a piano sample. Guru's rhymes seem especially sharp on this track, as it offers a taste of his many smooth metaphors. 

Gang Starr's  The Ownerz  CD was made to look like a vinyl record, signifying that they represent the old school era

Gang Starr's The Ownerz CD was made to look like a vinyl record, signifying that they represent the old school era

As mentioned earlier Gangstarr came back with the tried and tested formula of previous albums. But are there any stone-cold classics on this album...? It falls just short of that mark. But there are a handful really solid tracks, a few average and others below average. It has a few dips in quality here and there, but nothing major. It just does not quite reach the five score mark. So to sum it all up it is a really solid final studio album by one of the most important groups of the era.

Alexander Ramalho