During the early Gang Starr years, it was common to only see DJ Premier playing the background while Guru rocked the microphone. The critically acclaimed producer, deejay and Gang Starr co-founder attributed his low profile to some initial shyness. He added that experience, studying his peers and some encouragement from Guru helped him get more comfortable behind the microphone. The increased comfort served him well during solo deejaying performances when Gangstarr was on hiatus.
“When we took our breaks during the Gang Starr hiatus like we always do, we would do the same old thing,” Premier explained to DJ Revolution. “We do a Gang Starr album, we tour then we take a break. Guru would do Illkid, Jazmatazz and Baldhead Slick [And Da Click]. He had three different labels—and he had labels way before me. We were on another hiatus, and he said he wanted to take a longer break, and he didn’t wanna really deal with Gang Starr right now.”
The solo outings during Gang Starr breaks introduced Premier to a younger audience, but he still sacrifices them if he can for the sake of his Live From Headqcourterz show on Sirius satellite radio. Prem explained that he tries to avoid booking performances on Fridays when his radio show is being taped because of the value of still having a platform on which to break new artists.
“I know most of them ain’t gonna fuck with me, because I play the real shit,” Prem said of traditional radio formats. “No DJ on regular, terrestrial radio is breaking new records and that’s what we were used to hearing in our generation. If you play 40 songs, 30 of them better be played out of that playlist or you’re fired.”