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Gangstarr
THE OWNERZ
(VIRGIN)
Stars graphics

Guru and Premier ó a/k/a Gangstarr ó once again deliver solid, streetwise beats and prose with their sixth studio album, a return to form thatís worth the four years it took them to finish it. The disc features some of the best work these hip-hop veterans have dropped since their 1989 sophomore classic, Step in the Arena. Premier vents some of his anger at the current state of hip-hop radio in an intro to "Peace of Mine"; "Thatís some faggot bitch shit yíall are listening to, all you DJs are letting the program directors handcuff you ó you fuckiní robots," he fumes over the phone before Guruís hard-hitting beats kick into gear. Later, on "Deadly Habitz," Guru takes aim at the shady side of the record business and its "managers coked-up and A&Rs doped-up."

The duo open with "Put Up or Shut Up," a track built around a retro Shaft bass line and a simple beat that coolly supports Guruís patented monotone flow. Whatís ironic, given Guruís feelings toward radio programmers, is that The Ownerz has already spawned a few heavy-rotation singles: the smooth and catchy "Skills" and "Nice Girl Wrong Place" and the quirkier "Rite Where You Stand," which has a bouncy, off-kilter piano loop and a cameo by former P. Diddy minion Judakiss. Guru also demonstrates that he can adapt his flow for the new millennium on "Sabatoge," a track heavy with slick contempo beats. Gangstarr even play host to a host of guest MCs, including Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg, M.O.P, and Freddie Foxxx. But no one overshadows Guruís beats and Premierís flow.

BY CHRIS CONTI


Issue Date: July 25 - August 1, 2003
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