In Complex’s Magnum Opus mini-documentary series episode about Gang Starr’s 1994 hit single “Mass Appeal,” DJ Premier declared it was a “shame” for the Hip Hop journalism industry to not pay tribute to Guru by putting him on any magazine covers after his death in April 2010. On Gang Starr’s 17-track comeback opus One Of The Best Yet (a self-explanatory label that’s derived from the duo’s memorable title track from their 1999 greatest hits album Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr) hammers down Premier’s point for redemption. The duo’s seventh album comprised by some of Guru’s 30 unreleased verses filled with whipsmart battle rap lyrics and Preemo’s trademark production formula of chunky basslines, punchy snares, multi-layered dusty record loops and simplistic scratches.
There wasn't supposed to be another Gang Starr album. From 2006 until his death, Guru was adamant that the group was over and that there wouldn't be a comeback, even calling DJ Premier his "Ex-DJ." He seemed to be longing to recreate himself, to put distance between himself and his legendary partner. He was growing edgy about being asked questions about Premier all the time, and even refused to answer them.
One of the Best Yet seemed almost unimaginable until 2019. A few years earlier, DJ Premier acquired unreleased Guru vocals from DJ Solar, his ex-partner's close associate. Reportedly consisting of 30 recordings made from 2005 through 2009 -- the year before the MC died of cancer -- they were deemed by Premier to be sufficient raw material for a seventh Gang Starr album, the first since The Ownerz.
E lvis Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker is famously reputed to have responded to the news of his charge's premature death by snapping "This changes nothing!" Frequently held up as an example of almost inhuman coldness, they're nevertheless words the music industry took to heart. Posthumous "new" albums are everywhere these days, but no other genre has taken the concept and run with it quite like hip-hop. From Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E to XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, it seems no rap artist is capable of going to the grave, however prematurely, without having their unreleased recordings turned into product following their death.
The Lowdown: Pray tell, who is DJ Premier? Only one of the most admired rap producers in history. An outsider who managed, improbably, to revolutionize New York hip-hop, Premier is famous for bringing out the best in his collaborators. Gang Starr is an institution, but even without it, Premier would have tons of sublimely neck-snapping beats to pad out his resume.