A minute ago my dude Tony came through the crib to interview me for this doc he's shooting and in the middle of the shoot he asked me a question that was totally off topic from what we were talking about. He asked me why don't cats like Gang Starr's "The Ownerz?" And the first thing out my mouth was, "you know what...that's a good damn question!" I think with certain groups we get spoiled because of their greatness and Gang Starr is mos def one of those groups. Because the way I hear cats talking about "The Ownerz" is the same way I hear cats talking about Tribe's "The Love Movement" and the way cats SHOULD be talking about "Beats, Rhymes & Life." Matter of fact, I've heard more folk cop pleas for "Beats, Rhymes & Life" (and boy oh boy do ya'll cop pleas for that jawn "it wasn't THAT bad", "I did like a handful of songs", "I mean...it wasn't completely trash") then they give props to "The Ownerz." And trust me when I tell you that "The Ownerz" deserves a whole lotta props.
First things first, we can really just start and end with "Who Got Gunz." I mean, this is EASILY one of Gang Starr's hardest bangers outta their discography and it's probably the dopest posse cut of the new millennium. Never thought about that did ya'll? And the rhymes? Don't even get me started on the rhymes. I've never been the biggest Fat Joe fan in the world but Joe...on this? Come on ya'll. "I got 7 mac 11's, about 8, 38's/9 nines, mack 10's man the shit never end/even if the apple won't spin, I reach in my back pocket and blast you with his twin/niggas yelling out the window Joe's at it again/and they problem never hit you if you brought your glock/me and my gat like Wilson, we all we got." Now, before ya'll start with the "he used BIG's rhymes to set it off" ask yourself the same question when Jay does it and ya'll give him a pass. And Fame's verse? "My nigga we got guns, big ones extra large heat/humongous shit that won't up fit under your car seat/pop in a heart beat, keep the canon in my reach/while you flat on your back, like you was tanning on the beach/we keep them thing things full of hollows/and I'm from Christopher bitch bang with the Wallace/run you down, MOP hunt you down/gun you down, guns sing like Bilal." Did this nigga just say guns sing like Bilal? And ya'll frontin on this?
But even if ya'll front on "Who Got Gunz" how are ya'll frontin' on how "The Ownerz" sets off with "Put Up or Shut Up?" Which is probably my 2nd favorite set off from Gang Starr only being beaten out by "Daily Operation's" "The Place Where We Dwell." There's absolutely no way ya'll can say "Put Up or Shut Up" doesn't go hard. Plus Guru and Krumb kill it..."plus ya'll don't wanna see Krumb dumb out." "Werdz From the Ghetto" with Smiley the Ghetto child is dope and "Sabotage" is BANANAS! Cats always seem to front on Guru's storytelling skills but dude is right up there with the greats on the story telling tip (see "Soliloquy of Chaos", "The Planet" & "Just To Get A Rep" just to name a few) and this banger shows & proves that. And do I REALLY need to go into how dope "Right Where You Stand" with Kiss was? Didn't think so. Now, I won't hold you when I first heard "Skills" I thought it was just aiight but that was because I was so spoiled from the last two singles they dropped "Full Clip" and "Royalty" but at the end of the day "Skills" is mos def a banger and the way Primo used those "Rapper, Dapper, Snapper" drums? Come on ya'll. "Deadly Habitz is CLASSIC Gang Starr but to be honest with you, I've never been a big fan of Guru's "chick songs" outside of "Ex Girl To The Next Girl." But "Nice Girl Wrong Place" is real dope and Primo DESTROYED that Curtis Mayfield "Kung Fu" sample but this dude Boy Big singing the chorus was just horrible. I think this was some dude Primo had signed to his Year Round Records and I guess Prim was trying to give dude some shine but trust, if you dead dude and replace him with some classic Primo scratches we're talking about the song in a whole nother light. But Guru & Prim should've known that you can't go from K Ci & JoJo singing your hook to some dude named Boy Big. The funny thing about this song was when I first saw the track listing I thought it was a typo and that Big Boi from Outkast was gonna be the album so you could only imagine my disappointment with not only how wack the singing was but that a dude would name himself Boy Big...smdh.
To me, "Peace of Mine" and "Capture" are both dope but they're just not the jump out the window dope that Gang Starr's known to hit you with but "Playtawin" and "Riot Akt" snap you right back to reality with that jump out the window dope again. Knowing cats, ya'll will try to front on "Same Team, No Games" which to me is damn near impossible to do unless ya'll felt like the NYG'z & Hannibal were just sub par MC's but let's be real, outside of Jeru damn near everybody Gang Starr has introduced us to since day one has been sub par MC's. Shug, Dap, Malachi, NYG'z, etc. so it's not like the Gang Starr Foundation were ever some lyrical assassins. So to me this jawn fits right in with the rest of their "I'm gonna put my people on" songs. "In This Life" with Snoop is dope and I wasn't in love with the title track "The Ownerz" but "Zonin?!?!?!" Maaaaaaaan...you end the album with this instead of "Eulogy" and I got damn near no beef with "The Ownerz" but they didn't so I do have beefs but to say this album ain't dope and that cats were disappointed cause of few missteps literally floors me. Outside of the intro, Big Boy's singing, that wack interlude Hiney and ending the album with "Eulogy" I've got no beef with "The Ownerz." Which goes back to what I was saying earlier about when you've been spoiled with so much dope music for over 10 years that you literally can't see the forest from the trees. Is "The Ownerz" doper then "Moment of Truth?" Nah....but it's still a REALLY dope album.
Let me do this and pull out my "Jay Z mathematically equation" calculator and do the math with "The Ownerz." Now me personally, I rock with 14 outta the 17 songs on the album which comes out to 82% which is a B and in my day, that was enough to move on to the next grade, keep you outta summer school AND keep your parents happy enough to leave you be. That is unless you had those parents that expected all A's from you ALL of the time. Come to think about it, maybe that's what the problem is. Ya'll cats who don't like "The Ownerz" are THOSE parents. You want these dudes to be the "Kia Lightys" (this chick who I went to school with and who had all A's from kindergarden to 8th grade) of the game. Well, ya'll gotta lower ya'll expectations cause ain't no rapper, singer, group, etc. an all A student in this game ALL of the time. And at the end of the day, ya'll know damn well there ain't nuthin wrong with a B. Hell, half of ya'll were praying for B's when ya'll got your report cards so don't front on Primo and Guru for dropping a B album. But my question for the cats who weren't feeling "The Ownerz" is what is the beef? Were the beats wack? Were the rhymes wack? Or was it that is wasn't "Moment of Truth?" And if it's the latter, cats need to come to the realization that just because an album wasn't as dope or doper then their last album doesn't mean that it's not a dope album standing on it's on. So come on ya'll...stop frontin and give one hip hop's dopest groups EVER the same love ya'll give ya'll favorite rappers cause if anybody deserves THAT kinda love...trust me, it's Gang Starr.