One of The Best Yet is a hip-hop album from Heaven
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
After 16 years, we have a surprise last album "One of The Best Yet" from the legendary duo Gang Starr who includes producer DJ Premier and the late rapper Guru. Guru passed away on April 19th, 2010 from a heart attack and a coma. Gang Starr is mostly popular with core hip-hop fans and they dominated the hip-hop Eastcoast scene with 6 albums from 1989 to 2003. Now with their 7th and final album, they're back to bless our ears with unheard verses from Guru that DJ Premier was capable to acquire. "One of The Best Yet" has been released last week on November 1st, 2019 under the labels To The Top and Gang Starr Enterprises. The album is entirely produced by DJ Premier and features M.O.P., J. Cole, Ne-Yo, Nitty Scott, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Freddie Foxxx, Royce Da 5'9", Jeru The Damaja and others.
The album starts with an introduction called "The Sure Shot" which is a live performance that interpolates Gang Starr's "DWYCK" featuring Nice & Smooth. The live introduction also performs many Gang Starr hits from "Mass Appeal" to "Full Clip". Following up is the song "Lights Out" featuring M.O.P. which samples DJ EFN (from the Podcast Drink Champs with N.O.R.E.) "Who's Crazy" featuring Scarface, DJ Premier, Troy Ave and Stalley. "Lights Out" has a very good instrumental with some nice drums accompaniment. This a type of beat that makes you want to push hard at the gym or some fight music because with the lyrical slaughter of Guru and M.O.P., that equals lights out. Then we have the song "Bad Name" where Guru raps his opinion and apologizes to the fans about how today's hip-hop music became lost. Even though this is a lost verse before Guru's death in 2010, the statements in the song are still true today. "Hit Man" which features Q-Tip on the hook, is a story-telling from Guru about a hitman. When a hitman is hired for a job, he is supposed to be smooth and slick which is also the case with Guru's style of rapping and flow on the song, and Q-Tip did some nice weapons effects on the hook itself.
The next track is called "What's Real" featuring Royce Da 5'9" and Group Home (Melachi the Nutcracker and Lil Dap). This is another real hip-hop song with great lyrical wordplay from Guru and Royce. The track is 100% straight hip-hop at it's finest. Then we have an interlude called "Keith Casim Elam", where Keith is Guru's son and he speaks highly about his late father's legacy. The next song is called "From A Distance" featuring Jeru The Damaja. With two legendary rappers on a Preemo track which gives you good lyrics, a nice flow, and a crazy beat, I don't need to say more. The following song is the lead single of the album and it's called "Family and Loyalty" featuring J. Cole. Both artists are rapping lyrical wisdom on this melodic laidback track from Premier. Guru raps about how we should treat everybody and everything we love and care about like they are diamonds. J. Cole who I think is today's best-featured rapper in a song, took his guest's appearance seriously. In my opinion, this his best-featured verse, because he's rapping with the ghost of Guru on this DJ Premier beat. As it was an honor for Cole to be on this track, and he also announced that this will be his last feature that the fans will hear from him. The song samples MC Lyte's "Stop, Look, Listen" and "The Choice is Yours" by Black Sheep, and the video of "Family and Loyalty" is directed by former YO MTV Raps! host and hip-hop pioneer, Fab 5 Freddy.
Halfway through the album, we have the song "Get Together" featuring Ne-Yo and the lovely Nitty Scott. This a good rap/Spanish serenade where Guru is hollering at a Hispanic woman, while Ne-Yo tries to impress one with some limited Spanish words he knows. While Nitty, who is half Puerto Rican and half African American, tells a who man got eyes on her that she's the real deal. The interlude "NYGz/GS 183rd" is an interview with Panchi and DJ Premier, where Panchi speaks about the days he met Guru and DJ Premier. Then we have the song "So Many Rappers" where Guru raps about how he saw rappers come and go in the hip-hop game. I like how the beat switches sometimes for a few seconds. Following up is "Business or Art" featuring Talib Kweli. Both lyrical MCs raps about artists who are in the hip-hop game either for the love and art of hip-hop or just for fame and money. Rappers need to be careful when they choose between business or art, or they might end up just like 6ix9ine. As the song samples "In This Life..." by Gang Starr featuring Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli shows his love at the end of his verse with the camaraderie between his group Black Star with Mos Def and Gang Starr.
"Bring It Back Here" is a 50 seconds freestyle by Guru, and then we have an interlude from Big Shug called "One of The Best Yet". The next song is called "Take Flight (Militia, Pt. 4)" featuring Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles which is another Preemo beat that is pure hip-hop at it's finest with three powerful MCs. The song samples "The Militia" by Gang Starr featuring Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx and LL Cool J's "4,3,2,1" featuring Method Man, Redman, Canibus and DMX. The final song of the album is called "Bless The Mic" which samples "My Melody" by Rakim. The track is smooth and has nice scratches from DJ Premier. Guru raps about how messages and lessons are important in a hip-hop song.
"One of The Best Yet" is one of the best albums of 2019 yet, even of the decade I might add. DJ Premier who said that he was nervous about dropping this project and that he had difficulties with Guru's non-used verses royalties, definitely gave any type of hip-hop fans a refreshing hip-hop album to our ears. With the help of good features and his amazing production skills, Preemo kept Guru's legacy more than alive and the album felt like Guru came from heaven and linked up with DJ Premier in the studio to do one last album. "One of The Best Yet" is an album to remember.