March 21, 2021

Happy Born Day, DJ Premier! (Playlist/Interview)

I've never been short on praise for the legendary DJ Premier, so as we celebrate his Born Day today (which should be a holiday!), I thought I'd dig back in the archives to an interview we did together over a decade and a half ago. June 2009, in the back office at 406 6th Avenue, better known as Fat Beats NY, we had a candid conversation about record store day, then-new projects, the tattoo on his arm and more. He shared, "We are all here to combine powers and support each other, because there is still a big network of us that still do what we do... from the heart. Ya know, from how we were raised in the early 80s of hip-hop - when there were 12-inches, before it was albums. But, we still pride ourselves on making good bodies of work, too. Ya know, a lot of people don't know how to make good albums... they really need to stick to 12-inches or just do a couple singles and learn how to make an album. We know how to make albums, and that's why I still exist; why I still do a radio show that's dedicated to breaking records. We know how to judge talent! It's really like with chefs, when we tell you something is gonna taste good; when you take a bite out of it, it does taste good! We are the tastemakers of this industry and all these people here are here for the same cause..." Indeed, that continues today as DJ Premier remains at the forefront with his show on Sirius, Live From Headqcourterz, and more importantly, Preemo ALWAYS leads by example!

When I asked him about the tattoo on his arm, he shared, "Oh word, the tattoo says "Reputation Is The Cornerstone Of Power." I was on a plane reading "The 48 Laws Of Power," and I just liked that line when I was reading it. I mean, there were some things that were inconsistent in the book, but for this particular line, I feel that really describes me and how I came up to make my name in NYC as a producer-DJ and hip-hop artist, and I did it! All I wanted was EPMD, Rakim, KRS-ONE, Marley Marl and people like that to say "Yo, you're dope, I love your shit!" and they did that, so I feel like I made it. It wasn't just the money, it was them appreciating me and recognizing what I do, and also shout to Guru for recognizing that I was dope, too, and ya know, we here and still gettin' it in..." Rest In Peace, Guru! Gang Starr still remains my favorite group of all-time! Art below by Alphonze.

I also asked Preemo about consistency and producers having their own signature sound... to which, he shared, "That's important because everyone has something that you can be remembered by and for me, its my scratching ability and the funk that I put into my beats. Ya know what I'm saying, its like my worst beats are better than most cats and thats not even a bragging thing. Rest In Peace to Jaco Pastorius, who used to be the bass player for Weather Report, he said, "It's not bragging, if you can back it up," and well, I can back it up..." and with that, we left our conversation as to be continued... But, there's one more piece of advice that he's shared elsewhere that's equally relevant. Preemo said, "A rule that I've learned is never bite. I know it's not looked at the same way to the newer generation, but that was such a major, unwritten rule that we knew. Don't bite because you will get stepped to. I've stepped to people for biting, and I've stepped to people for even just mentioning my name... Learn how to perform live. It's the ultimate. After you hear an album, it makes you want to see them live... So always take pride and care about your live performance; that's major for me." Please dig in the archives for countless posts about DJ Premier and Gang Starr, and be sure to wish him a Happy Born Day! The DJ Premier Nike Air Force 1s are below, never to be worn...