With J. Cole flying the flag for traditionalist, throwback hip-hop for the last decade or so, it felt like it was only a matter of time until he finally worked with one of the iconic producers of the Golden Era. No one could have expected that not only would he get a chance to do so, but also appear alongside that producer’s longtime rhyme partner in one of their group’s first singles since that classic rapper passed. That’s exactly what happened today; J. Cole appears alongside the late, great Guru on a classic DJ Premier production on Gang Starr‘s “Family And Loyalty,” their first new single since Guru’s death.
“Diamonds are forever like family and loyalty,” Guru asserts on the hook. “Or real rap songs like ’C.R.E.A.M’ or ‘My Melody.'” The nostalgic sentiments continue on each of the emcees’ intricately crafted verses, as Guru runs down a list of family and friends more valuable to him than gemstones. “Diamonds are like your man you always call fam / Diamonds are like your grandma you always call ma’am.”
Meanwhile, J. Cole’s run of standout features continues, as he uses a choppy, stop-and-start flow to share his amazement at rapping alongside legends (“who’da thought you woulda been rhymin’ with Ghost”), double down on his world-changing mission statement (“I’m destined to invest in urban sections where depression rules”), and challenge internet haters (“N—-s be talkin’ slick, but only try me over modems”).
“Family And Loyalty” is Gang Starr’s first new song in over 16 years — and it’s the lead single from an upcoming album DJ Premier teased on Twitter with a special message from fellow Golden Era icon Nas. J. Cole’s recent spate of features includes verses with Big KRIT (“Prove It“), Jay Rock (“OSOM“), Rapsody (“Sojourner“), Young Thug (“The London“), and 21 Savage (“A Lot“), as well as all over Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III.