DJ Premier Blog » 2010 » November » 18

DJ Premier Going To Use Christina Aguilera’s Studio To Work With Chaka Khan

When you’re speaking to someone who your mother regards as a hip-hop legend, it’s hard to maintain your composure and ask all of your questions, and I had 15 years of questions for Primo. But only 30 minutes.

This has been an challenging year for you. Has the passing of Guru changed as far as your approach to music and your outlook for the future?
Not really. Guru and I understood each other and were committed to the music. If you believe in what you’re doing and it’s brought me this far, I’m just going to keep doing what I do. The best way to do that is to do things independently and not get caught up in what labels want.

I notice that you talk about being independent a lot? Why is it so important to push that independent angle for hip-hop?
Well that’s where it originated and when the majors took notice that rap was here to stay. Then the money got better and people started to get more comfortable, but as they got too comfortable the music started to soften up and get watered down. And I don’t like watered down hip-hop. I like raw hip-hop; like De La Soul is raw to me even though they may have fun records and talk about the daisy age. They’re still raw hip-hop. They’re not watered down. They pull all the creative elements to make it unique and that’s what makes them great and that’s why they’re dope to this day. If I heard De La had a new album out today, I’m just going to get it. I’m not going to wait until I hear it first. Even with someone else that’s not all that…I gotta judge for myself because they’ve been so consistent that I trust them enough to think that they’re going to deliver the goods again.

Is that why you started your record label Year Round Records? To keep the quality of hip-hop consistent?
It was a few things. I’m not really good at this label running shit, but I said, let me give it a try because I have the advantage where my name carries weight. I just have to make sure that I have good, original artists.

I only have three artists [on my label], but I have a lot of projects that are coming out under the label. I have a lot of “specialty projects” and I know how far I can take things with ’em; like the KRS-One/Premier album. I know we’re both gonna kill it; I’m gonna kill it on the beats, he’s gonna to kill it on the rhymes. We already did Return of the Boom Bap and proved that we can hold it down.

Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier everyone already knows what that is and if the younger kids don’t, I’m not making it for them anyway. If they do, then I am making it for them. I’m making it for the ones that already know and I’m only campaigning for the ones that already know. I’m not campaigning for the ones that could care less because I don’t need their votes. In the independent world I can live off of 20,000 albums sold. That’s success.

[On Year Round] We can sell 100,000. That’s a lot independently, but on a major that’s a flop. So all of that pressure is off of me. I’ll stick with the smaller scale, but we’re all eating and everybody’s got homes. All of my artists have their own cribs. Everyone is well situated. Every one of my artists have a place to live thanks to what I’ve done to set them up.

Okay, so you have quite a few musical projects in the works including some with your new artists Nick Javas and Blaq Poet. I’m curious about who you have on the production for some of these projects. Who are some of the new producers that have the talent and skill to keep up with your standard of production?
I do most of the beats for my projects, but I’m gonna give up two or three songs for other people to get on. I signed Moss to my production company because he makes dope beats. He’s going to get his own credit. I don’t need to get credit for somebody else making the beat. Plus our styles are different. So if I try to put “produced by DJ Premier” even though Moss did it, people will start to say “that don’t sound like you” and I’ll start to get discredited.

There’s another guy named Gem Crates that’s got some pretty unique stuff that’s coming out

The only albums where I’m doing the whole thing is Pete Rock vs. Premier and the NYG’z album because they wanted to have one album in their life that I did the whole thing. So I said, alright I’ll do that. Everyone else like Nick Javas, Khalil, they have 90% of my production. Then they have Marco Polo, and of course Moss, Gem Crates.

I want producers to say that they want to work with my artists. If they’re offering to be a part of it, then fine. If not, I’m gonna have to handle it myself because this is what I do. I’ve done three albums at the same time. I did Return of the Boom Bap [with KRS One], Daily Operation [with Guru], The Sun Rises in the East with Jeru and did the Group Home album all at the same time and I was still working on Illmatic [with Nas].

You mentioned Moss and Macro Polo and talk about the change in music; What do you think that’s about? Do you think the Internet has changed the way music is being made?
No doubt, but I’m taking advantage of it too. I just joined Twitter so that I can tweet the things that are going on with me. I’m not going to be on Twitter 24/7, following everybody. I don’t have to do all that. Kanye is the same way. He tweets when necessary. You ever see The Wiz? It’s like The Wiz, you never knew when the wizard was gonna change everything; I kinda wanna be like that; like a wizard and have people say, “I want to keep my eye on what’s he’s doing because he’s puts out good quality stuff.”

There are a lot of physical musical outlets that are closing down. Recently we saw Fat Beats in New York and LA close up shop. What do you think this means for music and where is the one place you go to for music now that so many of them are shutting down?
The Amazons, the iTunes—it’s fucked up that they don’t have physical records. I just spoke to Jared at Big City Records [in the East Village in NYC] where I go digging for breaks and vintage records to sample and told him that he should start carrying more albums.

But the thing is, when hip-hop started out, you had to chase down a record and try to find it. It was underground and it was only on vinyl.  So it wasn’t on an eight-track, on cassette or albums. There were no CDs. It on vinyl only and these records were still getting moved around without Internet. It was word of mouth and being in the know.

Do you find that there is a trend emerging? Are there enough DJs breaking new music and introducing it to the masses?
Not really. There’s me, Kay Slay, Tony Touch, Green Lantern, Marley Marl, Some of us do it and thankfully we all have radio gigs—[DJs] who don’t worry about not getting their next paycheque.

So how do they get from where they are to where you are? ?
They need to speak up when they feel handcuffed. For example, I was listening to Bobby Trends the other night and he was playing all this music, and I was thinking “What the fuck?” because I know he can’t play those records. Then he’s like, “Brand new, Busta Rhymes! Let’s starting breaking some records and not being afraid to take a couple chances. The underground is where it starts and I live in the underground and I stay there but I always visit the mainstream, so I can see what’s poppin in that world.

Speaking of the product, what kind of equipment do you use to make music? What’s in your production arsenal?
MPC50, Turntable, Mixer, AKAI S950 Sampler, [Roland Fantom-XR Sampler Synth] Rackmount Module. The rest are plugins for Pro Tools because a lot of plugins are vintage equipment that we used as far as analog output gear. We were sound engineers way before when we recorded tapes and there was no digital world, so we know how to manipulate and play around with things and make it sound even better than the average engineer or listener or producer that’s coming out now because they don’t have an understanding of what came before this era. Whereas I’ve experienced using equipment from every era. I’ve experienced recording with 2-inch tape and splicing and editing with the little white marker and the clear tape together. Taking big reels off to mastering so that they can spool it off and run that. Now all you have to do is press a button.

Is Get Used To Us going to be the distinct Primo sound that we’re used to? What can people expect from it?
You’re going to get a bit of everything. The album is a collection of what’s coming in the new year with the individual projects. I took a couple songs from each project. I even have an artist named Dynasty, a female who isn’t even signed to me. She wanted to rhyme on one of my beats, but I didn’t have time to make her anything. I played her a beat from Beats that Collected Dust Volume 2, which is ready to go, and there was this slow beat that she asked me if she could spit to it. I had the scratches. Her guys wanted to know if we can do a video and I said sure, but I wanted to include it in my package because I want to put it out with my album. So she’s on the album, even though she’s not a Year Round artist, but she did it over a Year Round release. Same goes for Joel Ortiz, “Sing like Bilal” just got added to Hot 97 and that was from Beats that Collected Dust Vol 1. The reason why we got Funkmaster Flex on it is because he happened to walk into his office and his assistant playing Beats that Collected Dust and he’s like “Yo what’s that beat?” and the assistant is like, “Premier did that”, and he’s like, “What is that from?” and he told him. Flex got on the radio and was like “This is gutta! Joel I can hear you rhyming on this!” So Joel heard him and that’s why he’s on the song.

[On the song] Joel says, “Ayo Flex, I got the kite, I was tuning in Saturday night.” You never know how things will turn out, but it was a record that I believed in. I did it for Bilal and he passed on it, but now it’s a big record. It’s got new life.

You’ve got a lot of guest appearances that range eras, was that intentional?
Teflon is down with M.O.P. and I just asked him, “Who fits your style?” I mean I did a bit of reaching out, but he said Joel, Saigon, and Papoose. I said okay let’s reach out and tell them what’s poppin’.

With KRS for Return on the Boom Bip, we started recording off the head and we only had two songs in the can. So we started recording, and one night we were chillin’ with Ice-T after the show and he heard the beat and was like, “That sounds like some stuff you rap about with the gods and the earths” and KRS was like “Yeah, I’m gonna talk about the Five Percent Nation since people don’t talk about that anymore.” And Ice T [who will also be on the album] was like, “Yo, you gotta get somebody else on that like another god or a king’s son like Grand Puba” and we were like, “Grand Puba! That’s it!” So we gave him a call and he came through and knocked it out. So it was just brainstorming. It’s a dope cut that was a beat that was originally for Rakim when he was signed to Aftermath with Dr. Dre and he ended up not using it. So I took it back. I can’t even find the master reel to it, but I found a rough copy, tuned it up, Puba laced it and now it’s on the album.

We like to be different. We don’t want to get tied down to artist because they don’t really fit what we do. I’d love to get 50 on a record, but he doesn’t really fit what we’re doing. I’d rather just do a record for him.

What about Kanye, I heard you did something for him. How did that come about?
He didn’t end up using the one [beat] I did. He said he wants me to do something for him on another album. So [for this album] I did some scratches for him last week. He called me last minute and was like, “I know it’s short notice, but I gotta turn my album in tomorrow. Can you do some scratches for me.” It’s called “Mama’s Boy.” I think it’s the bonus cut. The beat I did was great, but [Kanye] kept updating the album and said it didn’t fit.

So can we expect to see it on a future Kanye track?
You might see it on the Return of the Boom Bip.

Speaking of working with other artists, I heard you’re doing a full-length album with Chaka Khan.
We spoke while I was on tour four months ago and I told her that I would love to be in charge of the project. She said she was cool, but she wanted to work out of LA and didn’t have a studio to work at. So I called Christina Aguilera and asked if I could borrow her studio and she said, “Yeah, no doubt.” She asked me how long I needed. I said about 10 days. So now we’re just trying to find out the right month that works for me because I only tour at the end of the year and plus I decided to drop this album at the last minute to drop this compilation because I really thought that I’d have an album ready to drop in 2010 and I didn’t. So I decided to drop a compilation album.

Okay and that’s when we’ll all hear the rest of what you’ve been working on. So to wrap up, I want to know why you still do this. I mean you’ve not only done albums, been part of a legendary group, starting a label revived D&D Studios. Why do you do it?
I would have left hip-hop alone when I felt like I was “too old” but I don’t look at that. I just think its necessary to do what you love if you are in it for just more that money. I’m in it for more than that. I want to see the whole culture get strong again. I want to see everyone who deserves to do well do well and everyone else I could care less because not everyone can make it.


Venom – Vigilantes (Feat. Blaq Poet) (Produced by Venom)

Exclusive exclusive… New shit by Paris MC and producer Venom, featuring a legendary oversea artist Blaq Poet. Supporting Blaq Poet forever… Venom comes with that hardcore french style on wax, check it out:


More info here.

Guru Graffiti Tribute In Poland, Europe

Grotere kaart weergeven

no images were found

Place: Sosnowiec
By: Impas
Date: 01.10.2010

More info here.

Nicely done. I love Poland, everything is so cheap and it’s not that far…

rip guru

DJ Premier Decodes “D’Evils”, “Kick In The Door” And More

In part 2 of our sitdown with Dj Premier we talk about how he handles artists in the booth and how he pulls the best out of them. He also gives us a few stories about how Jay-Z fought his advice on the creation of  “D’Evils” (and eventually caved) and also what it was like being in the studio with Biggie creating “Kick In The Door” when the topic being dissed was Premier’s own artist, Jeru the Damaja. Walk with us.

DJ Premier : I saw” Center Stage” on the Yes Network. They have good interviews. They had Jay-Z on and they asked Jay-Z did he like recording, performing, or you know what part of it he liked the most. He said the recording is the most fun because you get to create your vision of how you want to present yourself musically. He said but the illest part is performing because now you get to see people react to the songs you made but now you’re performing and they know the words.

There’s certain times when I’ll take him [Nick Javas] out and you’ll hear people going “Not a game, not a not a not a game!” We like damn we haven’t even played that yet. So it’s almost like, “Damn, you know that song?” Or they’ll go “Knock, knock, knock, knock,” and we’re like dude, the video isn’t even out yet. And maybe they’ve seen other viral stuff but regardless, that means they’re following and paying attention to what we’re doing already to where we hear someone out in the crowd doing it already.

Nick Javas: And more and more I see, especially cats in the front row, the first couple rows are always out of their minds; it’s crazy. So I’ll see cats in the front row rhyming along with every word now, and to me that’s crazy because it’s Premier’s show; it ain’t my show. It’s DJ Premier featuring Nick Javas but I see cats rhyming along with every word and I’ll give them love. I’ll jump off the stage and I’m rocking with ‘em; I’m holding their hands and I’m rocking with ‘em cause that’s love.

I see it building and I see even by the end of the show how much love I get as opposed to when he [Premier] first announces me, some people know how I am, some people don’t. But by the end I know I did my thing because I’m passionate about it and I care. I care that much to go in every show so by the time it’s over I know that I’ve acquired a lot more fans and people look forward to checking me out more so it’s just about doing your job the way you need to do it; keeping it all business but still doing it with a passion.

It AIN’T just about the money, man.  That money will come. That money will come, if you doing it for the right reasons.

Planet Ill: What’s the science behind the name Year Round Records?

DJ Premier: because I never really have time to take breaks. My whole career I’ve been just non-stop, banging them out, so Year Round was just the most appropriate thing to match. And again, just from an artist’s standpoint, and being creative and artistic, I had to have a name that matched who I am. Year Round Records is definitely that. Even with all the artists I produce on the side, no matter how I’m producing or working with, I’m never ever taking a break. I used to take vacations all the time, now shit I wish I could take one.

That’ll come later because you have to visualize what your future is in order to step in to it. And I visualized this and I had a lot of slow starts that actually crippled all of us as a family but they still stuck with me and said, “Man I’m getting frustrated, but I’ma stick it out with you.” I’m working on correcting all that stuff now, which for some reason, it’s working in our favor because even though we’ve been working on this a couple years to get some of these projects right. They still seem like they’re ready and right for now! It don’t seem like it’s old, we gotta start all over. No, this stuff still sounds relevant to what our vision was, so let’s stay on that vision.

Planet Ill: Musically, what’s the difference between working with artists like Christina Aguilera versus working with Hip-Hop artists?

DJ Premier: Everything is based on the artist themselves. Christina told me what her vision was. Cause that’s what Guru used to always call me: a beat tailor. He said you could just describe it to him and I could just make up the theme music for your vision. One thing I like about my artists is like, with Javas, or the NYG’Z, they are like, “I want to do a song like this.” And they’re coming at me like that; they’re not just like, “man… I’ve been thinking…,” they like “Yooo, I wanna do this!” I’m like that’s dope let’s write it down.

If you see my room, the albums are written on the wall with the titles. The last person I ever did that with was Gangstarr. So I said let’s go back to that formula that Gangstarr did and let me shape my part of the job that way so me taking Javas on the road with me, he started coming up with song titles just from experiences that happen to us on the road. They’re not going to be what just artists can relate, regular people with no experience in the music business can relate. That’s what our music is about communicating to where we’re on the same page.

Planet Ill: We spoke with Marco Polo earlier in the year and he said the difference between being a beat maker and a producer is the producer’s ability to tell an artist to shut the fuck up.

DJ Premier: Oh, for sure

Planet Ill: How do you intervene without crushing a new artist’s spirit?

DJ Premier: You just gotta be honest and tell ‘em, “Yo, it’s not sounding like what we’re here to do.” Sometimes Pangy for NYG’Z will be like “That’s the way I wrote it! That’s how I put it down!” Ok. But you’re not putting it down in the way that made me like you. What makes me like you is not what you’re giving me. You know the way that you talk when you’re hanging with us and you’re like yapyapyap? Give me that and just do it in rhythm.

Nick Javas: Yeah the more Panchee you can get on a track, for real, like his personality? He just takes over a room.  The more you can get of that? Forget it, man.

DJ Premier: Yeah. Take over the room in that booth. It’s the same approach. But now we’re selling something. So like when he’s in the booth, I’m not giving him any leeway. That same way that everybody is wondering who you are, because you have such a presence? Give me that in the booth. And then he gets a little angry and he’s like, “Do it again, yo.”

This is serious. You’re not projecting what I need from you from what makes people like you already as a person. The rhyming situation, I’m not going to let you off easy just because you’re a good personality. This rapping shit is real; you gots to deliver.

And everybody I ever been with has let me, you know? I’m not here to alter them or change them, it’s just as a listener I’m not getting what I need to hear. And that’s why I’m there telling them, I’m sitting here listening. That’s like sing me a song, the ABC’s and you’re leaving D and Y and K and L out. You’re not doing the alphabet right. So you know the way it goes: A-B-C-D-E-F-G. They going A-T-L-F-1-2-3. There ain’t no numbers in the alphabet! Do it right!

I always come off a little harsher with my guys because we have a family relationship. Artists, if it’s somebody like a Rakim, I approach it differently, but still not shy about it. I’m very blunt like, “Yo Ra, that line was a little shaky and your voice quivered a little bit, can we go back to that line?” And he’s like, “No doubt, G.” No one’s ever fought me.

Jay-Z fought me once and never did it again, when we were working on Reasonable Doubt’s, “D’Evils.” He gave me the whole concept, did the rhyme over the phone, told me what scratches to use, and it was dope. Even when he was on Center Stage, he said his most sacred songs was “D’Evils” and maybe four or five other ones. But to say that, after the status he has now, he said that those are his most personal, cherished songs and he said Reasonable Doubt was his baby. And it was all done here[formerly D&D now Headquarters]. The majority of it, minus two or three songs. We saw each other every day.

But just using that as an example, everything is that sacred to me too, till this day to where it’s an artist in the family, I’ve already laid my groundwork, I’m solidified. I’m good. If I do nothing else, I got a jillion records out there that people hold high in regards to what’s the bar; setting the bar or greatness. So when it comes to my artists, I gotta be extra hard on them because I’m cosigning them to say they‘re the next great thing and I don’t want people to doubt me and be like, “Man they aiiite. I heard they album, they cool but they ain’t like that other stuff you did.” I don’t want to hear that.

When Jeru the Damaja came out, he popped off immediately. Hit record, and he just blew up. I never forget, Biggie was BEGGING to be in a video with Jeru. He said, “If he [Jeru] ever did ‘Brooklyn Took It’ I just want to stand there and look hard.” That’s exactly what Biggie said. And I’ll never forget that because I had bought a brand new BMW and I rolled up to his block to go stop at the store and that’s where they used to always hang out Friday with Big and Shug [Founder of Gangstarr] would be with us and Guru and Dap and we’d see each other every weekend and just drink 40’s all weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And to see my pull up and ask me that to be on his album? This was before Ready To Die dropped. That is a big deal. So I know that the same thing that made Jeru hot, Group Home, Shug, I’m doing with these artists. It’s just a newer generation and a new approach. Like Guru also said, I take a lot of quotes from interviews we’ve done in the past, we just update the formula.

Planet Ill: How in tune are you with the lyrics that the rappers are laying in the booth? Like when Biggie said “Son, I’m surprised you run with them” on “Kick InThe Door” he’s sitting there talking to you…

DJ Premier: I looked at him and stopped the tape! That day, I purposely went by myself to see if there was going to be any funny friction because Jeru is my artist, he’s down with Gangstarr, but we also cool with Big, and we got love for him. I remember Puff even said, Yeah we coming after Jeru the Damaja, too!” And I took a stance on that and said, “Look, if ya’ll got a problem, ya’ll can see me because I’m here and I’m down with him and if ya’ll want to set it off ya’ll can set it off on me.” I would never play both sides like that to be some sucker n***a  or anything like that with anybody. That’s not my nature and that’s not my style now. But if anybody got something to say, say it. And it was about 20 guys in there and I was by myself. And I said, “Anybody got something to say, say it.” And Puff was like man we just fucking with you or whatever. I just still had to keep my guard u because I knew, again, this is Hip-Hop, I know the mentality. Then on top of that, I didn’t know how many people were gonna look at me funny thinking that I’m playing both sides, which I wasn’t.

So when he said that, I stopped the tape and sad, “Yo, you trying to be funny?” And Big was like, “I told you I gotta say something about the situation.” And I said, “Oh, so you gone say it on MY record? Go ahead and do your thing.” I gave him that window but I still checked him on it and Puff and them was there as a witness, I wouldn’t make that up. Gutter was there, D Rock was there; everybody was there. J Black was there [mentioned in “One Day”s lyrics] and he got dissed on the record.

Planet Ill: “Snatch up J Black and beat his bitch ass down…”

DJ Premier: Yeah he was there. When he walked in, I actually laughed because Jeru and J Black were actually cool with each other at the time. It was just a messed up situation. And then I remember Foxy Brown was real upset. She was with Jay-Z a lot  and Jay was cool with everybody so if he sees Jeru standing by at a party and he was kicking it with her, she would be like trying to wait for the right time to intervene. But all he [Jeru] said about her was that she had fake alligator boots on, it wasn’t much. But during that time, it was really really really a deep time of Hip-Hop when that was going down, but I’m very honest with making my statements blunt and clear to anybody and I will continue to do so.


Inspectah Deck Pays Tribute To Guru & Big Pun In Vegas