Guru and DJ Premier have been moonlighting on separate projects for the past five years, but now that the two longtime friends are back together as Gang Starr, it's "like a homecoming," Guru says.
"You went on your little vacation, but you come back home with a bunch of skills and other things to add to the table," the MC explained Wednesday. "When we do Gang Starr it always gets more and more intense."
Since their last LP of all new music, 1998's Moment of Truth, the pair have kept busy with side projects like Guru's Jazzmatazz and Premier's various production jobs, never calling it quits as a collective despite many rumors. Their new album, The Ownerz, drops June 24.
"We were also making sure a lot of things were at least fairly stable at our label," Guru explained of the group's long hiatus. "It seems like every time we put a record out, there's personnel changes and all kinds of turmoil going on at whatever label we're at. At this point we're not just trying to throw a record out. We want our just due. We're still hitting a few bumps and impediments in our path, but right about now it's too serious to just sit back and let people make decisions for us. We had to put a few things on hold and talk to some people and get them in perspective."
They also had to send out invitations to some buddies they wanted on The Ownerz, including Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss, Fat Joe and M.O.P.
"That was exciting for me," Guru said of working with Jada on their current single, "Right Where You Stand." A video for the cut is already playing and finds the three competing in a fight club where the weapons are words and mics, not knuckles.
"I got all the LOX stuff," Guru continued. "He's one of the forefront of the new school. That song 'Right Where You Stand,' it's sort of a way to shut the critics down who have this thought that when a rapper gets older, his stuff is wack. It's the opposite for us. That's my fountain-of-youth flow. To match it with Jada's, it's two generations on a Premo track, both killing it and coming real strong."
"I feel like with how hip-hop sounds right now, it's sort of like renting a car," Premier added, referring to the album title. "We feel like music is being driven around like a rent-a-car, it's a temporary ride. We want the long ride. I want to be able to say that I own this and I could do whatever I want with it at our own cost. We feel like we still represent the purity and tradition of real hip-hop music, so we call ourselves rightful owners. We're fiends. I like to get that fix of good hip-hop music, and a lot of it is not really present these days."
Gang Starr said they're already thinking about their next LP and plan to start recording in October. In the meantime, they'll continue to assist the plethora of upcoming artists they've taken under their wing and they'll also be working with a few established acts. Premier is gearing up to go into the studio to work on new albums by Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z.