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DJ Premier Opens Up About Guru’s Death, Solar, Gang Starr Reunion & More

VIBE: Do you feel like your relationship with Guru has been misrepresented by Solar?

DJ Premier: Well, I’ve always held down Guru… His spirit knows this. He used to get upset about so much stuff when we were dealing with the label all the time. We both would be upset. But I would take the calls because when he was upset he would flip [Laughs], where you might not be able to handle him when he’s wilding out. With me, although I had a temper, I was much calmer about it. But I always remember whenever I would tell him, “Yo Guru, don’t worry about it, they are going to take care of it,” he would be happy as fuck. He would be like, “Yo, let’s go out for a drink.” He was the go-out king. That was his routine. He was definitely a celebratory guy. Anyone from our era knows that Guru was in every club and every bar and every spot. He could go all night, all day. And he would never be tired!

When was the last time you spoke to Guru?

It was March 30, 2004. April 1 was the last email I received from him and I just found it in my computer. We were pretty much going at it about him straightening his life up with the drinking and everything… just getting himself together. Because talent wise, drinking or sober, he was always on point in the lab. He could lay down his vocals with no problem and he always wrote his rhymes dope. When he wrote his rhymes on page they were so messy [Laughs]. I used to ask him, “How can you even recite the verses and flow?” He would be in the booth turning the paper upside down while he’s still rhyming and without having to punch in.

Was there ever a time when you felt Gang Starr was going to break up during your successful run in the ‘90s?

Yes. That was with the Moment of Truth album, which was the most emotional album for both of us. I had actually left the group before that album came out. I’ve never really told that story, but even Guru knew although he’s not here to defend that—but I had left the group. We were not getting along over stupid shit so I straight up said, “I’m out of here.” He was going through his gun trial and facing a five-year bid. I have to thank our tour manager who I went to college with and who is a major part of my life to this day. Even with his own problems with Guru, he was like, “Yo man, you need to go back to him. Y’all were meant to be a duo, man.” Then the trial was about to happen and I called Guru and said, “I want to do this.” We made up, everything was cool and I went to his trial everyday with his parents and our Gang Starr lawyer and our criminal lawyer. We were there every day. Guru was so scared that he could have gone to jail for five years, so that’s why that whole time was very emotional. I had just had a major death in my family. I was not really focused. I just remember our lawyer telling us, “If Guru goes to jail, you are going to have to promote the album by yourself.” That entire time was crazy.

How ironic was it that the Moment of Truth ended up becoming your first gold album?

Guru used to always say from every album, “All I want is a gold album…we deserve it; we are as hot as all these platinum artists.” So when we got that one he was the happiest guy in the world. He even designed the gold plaque. I remember we spent almost $10,000 on buying plaques for everybody that we knew deserved one [Laughs]. There was a DJ who taught me how to scratch—I brought him one; I brought my parents, my sisters, all my friends who was hanging with us from day one. That’s real talk. That’s why that album is so special.

What kind of sense did you get of the future of Gang Starr from your conversations with Guru?

It was pretty much stay focused on getting your life together. Everybody knows he had a history of drinking. That was no secret. But he had cut down some. He was getting it together, but he kept going back to it. His attitude could switch from being the funniest guy, joking around to just flipping out. But we were so used to him after all these years that we just dealt with it.

What are your favorite memories of Guru beyond the music?

Besides the music and the tours, I lived with him from ’88 to ’93. That’s a lot of years to live together. Everything would come through our house… wild parties every night. We lived that rock-and-roll lifestyle and weren’t even going platinum. We were making steady money because we did a lot of shows, but we lived that rock lifestyle to the fullest. You look at any rock group that had all the girls and the wildness, we did that. It was like college. There would be liquor bottles almost a mile long still in the house, some of them half empty. Guru was the type of dude who would get up, hold it up to the light to make sure there were no ashes in it and guzzle it the next day. [Group Home member] used to hide pizza in the dishwasher so no one would take his food. We used to be together in Brooklyn all the time. We would run around with guns and stuff, acting like we [were] fly. We were aiming the guns at each other like idiots [Laughs].

Now that’s crazy…

Yeah. It was dumb shit like that, but you laugh at it now because those were the fucking days. We had the party house, which was Brandford Marsalis’ house on Washington Ave. Cypress Hill was at our house before they even came out with “How I Could Just Kill A Man” video. They had just come to New York to meet up with Ice Cube. Easy Mo B would tell you, RZA would tell you… He was there before the Wu-Tang Clan. We met Biggie around that time before he had a record deal. Puff used to come to Brooklyn to come scoop him up to go to the studio and BIG was frustrated because he was stressing to get money. We would be on the corner smoking and drinking with BIG everyday. It would be me, Guru, Big Shug and Dap, who I remember had the biggest crush on Lil’ Kim and this is before she was even rhyming. We used to trade porno flicks with BIG’s man Mr. Cee on the way to the weed spot. Everybody would be in there blazing, drinking and girls, girls, girls would be there all the time.

What do you make of the rumors that Guru was gay because of the close relationship he had with Solar?

Like I just said, I don’t believe it. All these little rumors about Guru and some other shit… it can’t be. Because he had too many women.

How hurtful was it that one person could destroy someone’s legacy the way Solar has?

It hurts. But that’s based on the fact that none of the things being said are true. Just from the amount of work we have put in… We talking about almost 18 years. That’s a long time. If we didn’t make history, maybe I could deal with it a different way. But we made history together and he was alive to see it. Guru was able to get two gold albums; he was able to do the Jazzmatazz album. So everything that we gained makes you think, “You mean to tell me you are going to blow it all away and act like that’s not an important part of what made us who we are?” With a silly ass letter like that??? When you say ‘Ex-DJ’ where is my name at? Because there are two other DJ’s that was DJing with Guru besides me. There was Doo Wop and Shawn Ski, who was our backup DJ when I had to go back to college. He always held us down. Calling me the ex-DJ doesn’t mean anything to me. Why don’t you just say Christopher Martin?

Do you think the letter was written by Solar?

Well, I would love to see that letter. I would love to see the handwriting. Because I know Guru’s handwriting like the back of my hand with all the bills we had to pay together. I know it’s not him.

Have you been in touch with Guru’s family?

I talk to them all the time. His father, his sister Patricia; the only one I haven’t spoken to is his younger sister. But they all know me well. His brother Harry… They all know me. And they know this is all some bullshit. They been a little separated from Guru once he decided to move off of Gang Starr. He got distant from everybody. It had been six years since I talked to him. I was trying to get the truth about whether he was in the hospital after he had the cardiac arrest. I called his parents. Guru’s mother and my mother were pen pals for a long time. I remember the day he had the cardiac arrest. I called the house and I heard Guru’s father’s voice like “Chris…Man, it’s good to hear your voice.” Now if he had some strange feeling about me he would have been like, “Son, I can’t talk to you right now.” But that wasn’t the case. It felt so good speaking to him. I was able to get the real deal of what was going on. They know me well enough to know that I’m not some stranger that needs information to be held back from me. Why do I have to make it up? I don’t have an agenda.

Who is handling the Gang Starr estate?

I have all kinds of Gang Starr shit, but you don’t see me putting nothing out. I’m not selling T-shirts and all that stuff. But I’ve seen Guru’s people sell stuff on their site. I didn’t violate any of that stuff. Even when we weren’t doing stuff I reached out and told Guru, “Yo, let’s still sell our Gang Starr stuff just like the way Kiss did all the years they weren’t together.” They were still putting out Kiss memorabilia and dolls. So let’s keep on selling Gang Starr merchandise. The logo and the fan base we have, we can eat off of that forever. He has a son now so I wanted his son to eat. We just never resolved to get any agreement on it. I left it alone pretty much.

Were there plans for another Gang Starr album?

That was the plan following the break he was taking. But I don’t dwell on stuff too long. I’m glad that I have made a name for myself where I still can survive. If I had to just depend on Gang Starr I would be jammed up right now. My father raised me to always find a way as a man. I’m going to be a provider no matter what.

What do you hope for the future of the Gang Starr legacy?

I want the name to stay alive… But the right way. I don’t have a hidden agenda. His son should get that money. Of course I’ll get my half and that’s not on no selfish shit. That’s just off of what we built together. Nothing can take away from what Gang Starr did. That’s what I was stressing to Guru before he passed. We have tons of footage and DVD material that could have been sold. This is way before he was sick. I plan to discuss what can be done with Guru’s family. I don’t care if it’s from a lawyer’s standpoint. The main thing is we never dissolved our Gang Starr contract. We are still signed to each other. We never disbanded the group. If Guru really wanted to super dead it he would have said, “Yo, I want out.” And I still would have tried to convince him to stay. We are still Gang Starr.

Source: VIBE Magazine

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16 Responses to “DJ Premier Opens Up About Guru’s Death, Solar, Gang Starr Reunion & More”

  • Comment from djcoolrich


  • Comment from mari

    Glad to see Preem speak out. Seriously this brought tears to my eyes. Further solidifies how much Guru and Gangstarr mean to me.

  • Comment from wooh-haaaaaaa

    man great interview

    …gang starr 4 life

  • Comment from Skeematic

    amazing. feels good reading this interview.

  • Comment from steve

    Premier is the epitome of class. Cool to read about the good old days…that spot on Washington must have been the ish. RIP Guru…Gangstarr forever!

  • Comment from jr

    Kudos to Premier. An honest man in a dishonest industry.

  • Comment from Glenn

    Real good to read this interview. Primo youre straight and honest man. Remember that Premo and Guru where the last hiphop combo (Mc/Dj) from the oldschool. Guru RIP! Gangstarr forever!!

  • Comment from DJ Real

    DJ Premier, you are probably my #2 roll model aside from my parents, Im saying this as a high schooler. Well done. You handled this situation like it was nothing. And not many people can do that. Not only are you a roll model, but you are my #1 inspiration when it comes to doing hip hop music. I hope the one day follow in your legendary footsteps, its going to take some back breaking work i know. Keep your head up man. One day all this bullshit will come to an end.

    And to Solar, i am not going to put you down or anything, because idk if all the bullshit is true or not. Keep your head up as well man. I’ll be honest, I think your production skills are wack, but keep working, and dont try to get into a competition with Premier. Both you and I know that you wont top DJ Premier, at least for a very long time. Just work on your beats an thats it. Dont try to sound like somebody else or anything. I know im a high schooler, and i may not know shit about hip hop, i dont even own a record collection *sigh.* Butt those are some of the suggestions i think you should follow.

  • Comment from krudanze

    big shug & premier – “new” gangstarr

  • Comment from Alright Neil

    Preemo, mannn you got me a little choked up. You’re the true definition of a REAL MAN: Integrity, Character and Loyalty. Much love to GANG STARR and The Elam Family! I’m picking up another copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy, Daily Operation and Moment of Truth. No more loaning out anymore Gang Starr CDs, I had trouble gettin’ em back,LOL!!!!

  • Comment from DJ Real

    The real Gang Starr should be left as a legacy. Im sorry, but nobody, i mean absolutely nobody can take Gurus place. It wont be the same. Theres a reason Premier make his best beats for Guru. Because Guru had the right voice for his formula. Big Shug is dope, but Guru was just ridiculous on the mic, probably one of the best of all time, the one who carried that “swing” style of flow which pioneered the 90s hip hop sound of swing, boom-bap, gritty samples and such. Guru has one of the best flows in hip-hop, right beside Big Pun, Big L, or any of the wutang members. It is sad though, how it had to end this way. RIP Guru. Our hip-hop nation still has a future guys. Dont get down in the dumps.

    As soon as my turntables come to my house, i am going to start record collecting. And itll probably never stop. I love hip-hop that much. I will even get the latest albums on vinyl. The vinyl is just so precious to me. Weve got plenty of people like me, and “Sickness” coming up in the industry. Keep your head up guys.

  • Comment from pdilznick

    After Reading Tasha Denham’s “Just to get a Rep” interview I think its safe to say that Solar contributed to Gurus death. The stress, abuse, and extra anxiety brought forth by Solar was the opposite of what Guru needed to overcome his illness.

  • Comment from dan

    Great interview Prem, hand on heart, this brung a tear to a grown mans eyes and it don’t help i’ve got you’re music playing in the background. Big up RIP Guru, Solar can go fuck himself, fucking worm!

  • Comment from bRAD

    premo if you read this i just wana let you know that i have mad respect for what u said in the interview , and also want to let you know you have mad lov here in South Africa, please pull thru and give us a show in memory of GURU and Gangstarr right here in Johannesburg, one love to Gangstarr, Guru and Preem, true hip hop , keep on carrying ur torches underground will live forever ! Clowns like Solar just want the limelight , money hungry fame hungry fool

  • Comment from rubyreddblr

    …. we needed to know the truth preemo thank you for this interview… you sound like you was with him most of the teenaged life and formative adult years so that is your brother yall been through it all…. you shed some light on a lot of issues, which hopefully should remove speculation and doubt about guru….

    i wish preemo would read the letter and let us know if guru wrote it or not…. solar tried to get fast…. everyone knows his handshake aint matching his smile….and preemo aint going to let it go down…

  • Comment from Zip Repair

    Great information!

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