After releasing Gang Starr’s first album in 16 years, One of the Best Yet, DJ Premier revealed he’ll be performing in a rare show with Talib Kweli and Mos Def later this month. The trio will be known as Black Star Gang, a reference to one of Kweli’s lines on Gang Starr’s new LP.
In an interview with HipHopDX, Premier revealed that he was already set to perform with Black Star, Kweli and Def’s famed duo, before the record arrived.
“We were talking about a gig that we’re supposed to be doing this month with Black Star,” he said. “I’m DJing for them and doing a rare appearance, but the crazy part is they wanted to call us Black Gang Starr and I’m like, ‘Nah because without Guru here, I don’t feel like that’s right,’ but on the song that Kweli’s on, he says, ‘Hip Hop homie, that’s our lane/It’s Gang Starr with the Black Star gang.’ When he said that, I’m like, ‘Yo, call it Black Star Gang because we said that on the song.”
During the interview, Preemo also revealed how Kweli’s guest verse came to be on One of the Best Yet track, “Business or Art.”
“When he called to see if I’m down to do the gig, I told him about [the album] and he’s like, ‘Oh man, let me get on that if you have a spot.’ I’m like, ‘Man, the only spot I have is really slow. I know you do more of mid-tempo songs,” Premier continued. “He said, ‘Man, I don’t care what tempo it is, if Guru is on there, I want to ride next to Guru.’ I said, ‘Ok. I’ll send it to you, but again, keep in mind it’s really slow.’ He said, ‘Alright, I’m in Spain right now, but just send it to me then maybe I can go to my hotel room really quick, send it to you and see if you like it.’ And that was exactly what happened. By the time I woke up that morning, it was already in my inbox. When I heard the verse, I was like, ‘Wow, yeah, this is a go.’”
Black Star Gang will perform together on Nov. 23 at Cervantes’ Masterpiece in Denver, CO.
One of the Best Yet was released last Friday (Nov. 1). The 16-track record features verses from M.O.P, Q-Tip, Group Home, Royce Da 5’9”, Jeru The Damaja, J. Cole, Ne-Yo, Nitty Scott, Big Shug, Freddie Foxxx, Kweli and, of course, Guru.
Premier acquired unreleased vocals from his late Gang Starr partner three years ago. Until then, the recordings had remained in the hands of producer Solar, who was initially granted control over Guru’s estate after his death in 2010. Solar lost control over the estate to Guru’s family in 2014, and in 2016 Premier began pursuing any of Guru’s unreleased vocals.
“I knew there had to be material out there that [Solar] was sitting on, I could just feel it,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Guru’s like Tupac. He just records and records and records. I felt like it was a rescue mission.”
Premier told NYT that he purchased 30 unreleased recordings from Solar, marking the beginnings of One of the Best Yet.
“Some of them had two verses, some of them had a verse, some of them just had a hook and then faded,” he said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, there’s enough to do something.’”