Gang Starr: Hip Hop's Original "Ownerz"
Is Gangstarr real Hip Hop, or is the Ownerz following the pop trend. Experience Gold on
Tell me about the meaning of the title "The Ownerz"?
PREMIERE: Either you or somebody you know has went out and rented a new 2003 cars....rolling through the hood...everybody sees that person...saying "Dayum...he rollin in that new 2003 such and such...BUT...you gotta take it back sonner or later...that's what a LOT of cats are doing in Hip Hop. You got to give it back to the true owners sooner or later.
GURU: It's a simple and straight up concept...there are alot of cats out there that's laying claim to Hip Hop and they ain't even renting it....with this new album we want to show who some of the REAL =owners of Hip Hop are....
PREMIERE: Gangstarr was there in the beginning....1988, it don't seem that long ago. But, that time 15 years has contained many eras in the development of Hip Hop as an artform. By us coming out directly and stating that what we do with Hip Hop is what TRUE OWNERS can do with this music...
GURU: That's right...somebody that's renting something really don't give a damn about the property or itrm that they rent...they will just do enough to endure that they get their deposit back. But, a TRUE OWNER...the person(s) that took that property and fixed it up, developed it and made the front AND back yard look good. Remodeled the inside...put in the latest technology...developed new ways for you to appreciate that property...an OWNER will take and nurture that which he or she has developed...it's the same for Hip Hop. We just a pair of many owners of this art form, who are here to show what can be done if you appreciate what you lay claim of ownership to...we lay claim to Hip Hop...(laughs) we still Love (spells it) H.E.R.
15 years, that's a minute on anybody's clock. Premiere mentioned the many eras that Hip Hop has been through since you began. With what you have seen in Hip Hop during this time...what's the state of Hip Hop?
GURU: It's blown up worldwide...but, a lot of these kids out there today are not knowledgeable of the music or the culture....you've got the groups that are down with a group because they heard their song on the radio. You have others that won't acknowledge a cut if it gets big radio play....but, Hip Hop wasn't meant to be like that. This radio play or no radio play thing got started when Hip Hop got "a machine" behind it. Those dollars from the labels...the recognition of the 90's. Hip Hop has been corrupted by the "corporate mentality".
PREMIERE: We have sat in meeting with label execs...and they are trying to tell us...what single to
release...how to promote the single...and I be like...aiight...we'll do it your way if you can name 3 of our singles from any album...not charted singles...not award winners...just 3 singles...mothafuckas can't do it...because a lot of them don't KNOW OUR MUSIC. But, they try and tell us how to write, produce, market and distribute. I'm into Rock N Roll...most of the A&R people from the label look like these heads I see at Rock shows...If I asked them something about some Rock cat (that they don't even represent) they can tell me his entire history AND DISCOGRAPHY! That's the change....there's really nobody up there on high that has their finger on the pulse of Hip Hop...and that's the streets....that's why a lot of the independents have made it so big. Me and Guru are in it...we don't go on tour and stay in the hotel after the show...we meet, talk and kick it with our fans. That's why we have the longevity that we have.
GURU: With every good thing comes drawbacks...the MAIN drawback of hip Hop's success is that they (industry execs) are trying their damndest to cubby-hole Hip Hop...and it can't be. They attempted to cubby-hole Gangstarr...once they started labeling us Jazz-Hip Hop...especially after the release of my joint Jazzmataz..but, that was not all Gangstarr was/is about...we love Jazz...but, we just aren't limited to that. The state of Hip Hop? It isn't about stagnation, commercialization or profitability...it's about staying true to the art...developing it...our state is good...and with the return of the owners....it can only get better. I feel that Gangstarr is a part of the blood, sweat and tears of modern Rap.
Tell me about your creative process...how does a Gangstarr album get worked?
PREMIERE: (holds hand up to GURU) Wait, wait...I'm gonna answer this one....I've watched this brotha (tosses thumb toward GURU)...when he's writing...it's full blown concentration...he's given me sheets of paper...with lyrics EVERYWHERE....on the side...upside down....he gets called by our office assistant constantly with her asking "What's this you have written on page such and such?" Chicken scratch,
but creative chicken scratch...
GURU: yeah, yeah...I got my thangs...But, basically (looking at Premiere, like "whatever man") we develop the title first...then Premiere works the music...while I work the lyrics..we always come together...I get the beats roll with them in my ride...and (tilting his head toward Premiere) he looks over my lyrics...and suggests changes hooks etc....we are 100% involved in the production of our music.... PREMIERE:...the marketing, CD covers...everything. When you get a GANGSTARR album....YOU GET A GANGSTARR ALBUM!
You recently lost something that was an intricate part of that creative process...the D&D studio.
PREMIERE: Man...that was my second home...the feelin