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DJ Premier & Chaka Khan Collaboration Album In The Making

Kyles Files questioned DJ Premier with a lot of questions before he went on the Chigaco stage to rock the crowd. We have some more details of his upcoming projects (which are getting tooooo crazyyy)… Me highly anticipating that Gang Starr Tribute song with the Gang Starr Foundation. He also talks Gang Starr (and the rights), and like we know him… straight loyal… Damn, y’all remember Guru x DJ Premier x Chaka Khan 1995?

Do you get to Chicago often? What do you like to do when you’re here?

Um, not a lot, but I’ve been there more than 30 times. I mean, I go back to the early 90s coming there… My first time visiting was on Gang Starr promotions. that was back when Pinkhouse alive, so I go back to that. He took us to the hood, to Cabrini Green and in-store at beeper store. It was in the mall. Literally it was in the mall, and we were out there communicating with people. I liked visiting George’s Music Room. George is a great dude, and always had good promotions at his store. He even had a cookout when we did “Hard to Earn,” and I love the fact he has more glasses than Elton John. Elton John claims to have more unique glasses, but I think George is in the running for that.

I know you’re at The Shrine on Wednesday. What can the crowd expect?

I do everything… Gang Starr tribute. I do a block of Premier production. Sometimes, I go back to the breaks. I’ll do the original sample and then play the record I made from the sample. It depends on the response from the crowd. I explain to them the history and lecture them:this is what made me hot and what was played when I was a little boy. This is what made me who I am.

What are you working on right now, so your fans can be up on what to expect? I hear you’re working on a mixtape with MC Eiht.

Me and Eiht go back to’ 89 when did first show in LA with Dub-C and Coolio. Coolio was a hype man still, and this was literally when Ice Cube had just left NWA. Suge Knight was doing security. That was my first time in LA. I go that far back. I remember seeing Masta Ace… and we did a show where there was fighting going on in the background. There was more action backstage than onstage. Masta had two beepers, fresh Jheri curl, and he told me he had a new group, Compton’s Most Wanted… We stayed in touch through the years, and I was doing a remix for Blaq Poet… this single “Ain’t Nothing Changed,” him and Young Maylay, Dub-C and Crazy Toons… also King Tee. Maylay is new dope MC… wanted to put Melee on and I happened to run into Eiht on the humble and told him what we were doing, get in on that remix. Sent him the track, his verse sounded like verse to set it off. Did this while working on Xtina’s album… I was out there working at the time, shot the video, get some scenes. Label rep shot video, quick run… found spot to film and girls walking across the street, filmed hearse, film that helicopter… police coming and told them shooting for class in college, drove by, got them… you can use that. Turned out to be good viral stuff for us. Me and Eight said damn, want to do project, and I would too. Do an album… had album worth of stuff. CD with 40 songs, went thru it and mixing weren’t good, but music and vocals were good. Two or three albums worth of stuff. Want some premier stuff, and send me all the sessions and let me and my team mix them. Cut down on time to put out album… we still waiting for the parts. Ran thru every single one, picked titles… Got back on the phone and played over song, that’s the name of the title. Pulled best 20 and nailed that down. Sent one that should “Fine By Me” is the one I want to jump off (official single/Premier-produced) and single is called “Don’t Hesitate”. Just played for label and said wow… Start shaping the album with what he has. Pulled 20, and I’ll do three new songs… Premier cuts… all the albums this year.

Who are you working with personally for your label?

I have group NYG’z “Hustle’s Union: Local NYG,” and an artist out of Texas named Khaleel, who has a track called “Already”. I did half the Khaleel album and the rest he did with his team in Texas. It has Bun B on it. I have an artist from New Jersey named Nick Javas and his album is called “Destination Unknown” and I’m doing 90% of that album… He’s on tour with me right now. He’s coming out to the show with me. We just did a single, “Opportunity Knocks” and we just shot the video. It’s very creative, and it’s a re-inactment of his audition trying to convince me to sign him to his label… I grade each verse he does by responding to him in scratches… I scratch… He responds to my scratch. And he”s like an Urkel-looking guy beating on my door. Throughout the song, I’m annoyed because my label rep won’t answer the door… I’m in my studio, and my rep won’t answer the door. I’m frustrated. I sound frustrated when I answer the door telling him what do you want… this is not how do you business, and he insists he is the missing link to my label.

Wow, that sounds hot. I want to watch it right now, but I won’t. Gotta focus. Now, all these artists, how are they on the mic… you know we’ve got a lotta…

Yeah, I know what you’re about to say. Without a doubt, my artists are more lyrical. I pride myself on dope lyrics, dope beats. And I find them everywhere. I got a guy from Texas, New Jersey, another group born and raised in the Bronx and then MC Eiht. Me and KRS-One are doing an album together… we just started.

How can we hear some of what you’re working on?

I’m doing a Year-Round EP and some of this will be on there. I have one single with KRS-One and Grand Puba called “5 Percenters” and putting Young Maylay’s track out, Khaleel’s and if everything goes well, there’ll be a bonus track with a Gang Starr tribute, Group Home, Jeru the Damaja and Big Shug… the originators.

I know Gang Starr fans will be excited. So can you do that? I know with all the drama with Solar saying he has the rights to Guru’s music… Can you put things out?

I’m working with the mother of Guru’s son, and his son is his next of kin, and he has the estate. Plus, we never dissolved our contract… never said we were done, and so we’re still signed together, so I also have rights to Gang Starr. My rights were as equal as Guru’s. Out of respect for him and his family, since I’ve known his family, sister and brother, I will always run things by them before making moves. Any money will go to his son, KC, or the family. His son is 9 years old, and I want him to collect from any profit. Gang Starr is a money maker, our logos and T-shirts are selling up to this day. And that’s not all you’ll get from Gang Starr. I have tons of video footage, DVDs and I don’t want to hold on to this stuff. I want to put it out in public and show the fun times we had. The way certain people in the media put it out, we were not cool, but we had a billion fun times, acting silly and crazy. We were together for 5 years and 6 albums… No matter how many fights, we were consistent.

Do you think it tarnished Guru’s legacy? The controversy over his dealings with Solar?

Yeah, I won’t mention that other guy’s name… He’s way too beneath me to do that… But I don’t have to say anything. Looking at all the different blogs, the Internet and stuff, all that stuff is against the other guy. No, for the most part, I thought it was good and they don’t diss Guru. Through most of it, I see ‘for all this bullshit, Guru, we love you’. The legacy always will be there. Dude is a legend and that’s all people care about… I will always love Gang Starr and that was Guru’s baby. Nobody will ever take that away.

Clearly, there is no question of your hip-hop domination. One blog referred to you as the “fifth element” of hip-hop. I know you’ve worked with Christina Aguilera in the past. Is there a genre you want to try?

Definitely rock music or new wave music. I’m 44 years old, and I’m from the new wave era. I was brought up on Pyschedelic Furs, the Cure, Siouxise and the Banshees, B-52s and U2s before they became this huge rock band… I was into them, and now U2 is super huge, but I went to concerts way before they blew up. And I like that. I want to see artists blow eventually and I know when they will. I can feel their energy. Same with Public Enemy. When they came out, I knew they were gonna be large. They were just different. Their stuff was raw.

Who do you feel like that about now? Artist-wise.

You know… I love Kanye, but he has established himself already. I like what Drake is doing, but I don’t know how far that will go to be 100%… No I.D. made comments about this. When you’re a ladies’ man, it’s risky because girls are in love with you and then they’re not… and you’re thought of as just for the lovers and not for the guys… It’s a risk… I hope his success continues for the rest of his life. Don’t get me wrong. And the other guy, I hope he can get himself together.

Who Solar? Are you serious?

Yeah, I’m not that type of guy. I wish the best for people.

Well, let’s broaden the question. Some of my Twitter fam want me to ask you what you think of hip-hop today. Is it better, worse, even?

I think it’s getting better because people like myself care to keep it going. I’ve got a radio show from 10 to midnight [ET] on Sirius, and I love the fact it’s uncensored. They don’t give me any rules. It’s cmmercial free and they even. Stress me about talking less and playing more music. I love Drake, but his records don’t usually fit my format… I have sound like Run DMC… rugged and gutter… I played “Forever” at first, but when it was too heavy on radio, I moved on. I’ve always played records I think have underground appeal… where hip- hop came from… I have to make sure that audience is pleased in some form or fashion. Somebody has to hold the “roots portion” down. And I want to do other things. I want to expand and do TV shows, cartoons, score films. Me and Chaka Khan just got off the phone and are working on album…

Yeah? You and Chaka?

Yes, she trusts my vision and she knows about my respect for her Rufus stuff and her solo stuff and she understands I get it. Our conversation was so great, and I’m sending her some stuff… and she’s all excited and I’m excited.

Six degrees time. You are working with Chaka, who worked with Kanye West. And now, you’re working with Kanye on his new album?

Yes, he has one track already. We’ve communicated already about that, and he told me he needs two more… He said ‘please hurry up and get some more over tome,’ but I’m on tour this week and I need to see niece graduate… Then I’m back to work. He has the one already… he hasn’t written it…

What does it sound like?

It’s raw, uncut… The track is really hard, very diff from his usual production.

Is it hard to work with another producer, even though he is also a rapper?

No. If we’re not clicking, not type to hold my tongue. When play rough demos, that one needs work… and I know he appreciates that I’m not yessing him, even though he’s Kanye West.

Kanye West. Yes, he’s talented, but you can always say, well yeah, well you’re Premier. Any other Chi MCs you working with right now?

I’m about to work with Common again… I did some scratches on “The Game”, but about to really work with him very soon.

I know I can’t hold you all day, though I wish I could. But I’m dying to know something about you as a producer. Recently, you’ve shared that you had a rivalry with Pete Rock. What other current or past producers really challenge you to bring your A-game?

Definitely Dre, DJ Scratch… I like Marco Polo… from Toronto. He has unique beats.

If you weren’t a deejay or producer, what would you have been?

Oh man. I used to work at a record store and used to deal with the distribution company and I’d say I need 12inhes of these records, 3 of these and I’d be haggling with my boss. He’d ask me how I’d know what to do and I’d tell him that I’m a deejay and I love music and I judge based on customers that come in… I’d be hat deep into to know what would work and not going to work… I take any job I do seriously. I studied computers in school and that’s not what wanted to do. I’m a risk taker, and I’m glad I could do this to get good music out there… I thank Guru every day for asking me to be in the group. I had group of my own and they weren’t fully capable of hanging in. My main guy went into military because he got frustrated with the time it took us for demo shopping. We all went to school together and Guru was looking for a producer/deejay, and once main guy left, I was on my own. I reached out and said I was available. My guy was enlisted for four years, and you know I wasn’t waiting that long. We did “Words I Manifest,” and it happened to take off and we shot a video… I didn’t sign until the second album because I still felt like outsider because Gang Starr was in existence before me and felt like a new guy.


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