Gang Starr Enlist J. Cole for First New Song in 16 YearsRolling Stone — Althea Legaspi
“This record means so much to me,” DJ Premier said in a statement. ” It’s a continuation of what I never wanted to end. It’s a very foreign place for me and very emotional. I get happy, sad, excited; my feelings are kind of all over the place. But predominantly, just very happy to be making music with Guru again.”
On “Family and Loyalty,” the artists explore legacy and lasting resonance, which are in turn prescient and poignant themes particularly in light of Guru’s death. “Diamonds are forever, like family and loyalty, or real rap songs like ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ or ‘My Melody,'” Guru raps on the hook, delivering his trademark silky flow over DJ Premier’s contemplative, laser-sharp scratching, cuts and jazzy and piano-tipped production. “Diamonds are forever like my infinite thought, like respect in the hood that can’t be bought/Word up/Diamonds.”
Cole’s vocals briefly join Guru’s as they pass off on their verses. “J. Cole, who’d a thought you woulda been rhyming with ghosts?/Guru flows forever like a diamond that most/Could never afford the precious jewels,” he raps. “That’s precisely why I’m blessing you with clear-cut messages/I’m destined to invest in urban sections where depression rules/I hope to hear the destitute before I leave this vestibule.”
Premier felt the collaboration was a good fit. “When it comes to this generation of emcees, ones that are lyrically on the level that Guru was on and someone that he would want to work with; Cole is that guy,” he said in a statement. “When Cole heard the record he got the chills and knew it was a classic.”
“Family and Loyalty,” which was released and available at midnight on Thursday, follows Gang Starr’s last project together, 2003’s The Ownerz, though they individually continued to release material prior to and after that release.