DJ Premier Addresses Copycat Producers, Updates On Full Album With Nas

Exclusive: DJ Premier acknowledges the criticism Statik Selektah and The Alchemist have received on sounding like him, says that he probably will not be on Nas' "Life Is Good," but the album is coming.

DJ Premier is more than willing to offer encouragement to today’s up and comers taking the genre into new directions. The Hip Hop sonic pioneer is beyond chastising the younger crowd, which isn’t to say that he doesn’t love hearing his own influence every now and then. Every Rap fan seems to know the story of this Texas-born producer who gave the New York sound its signature grit in the early 1990s. The man often referred to as "Primo" is a legend of course, but he feels no need in stating the obvious to promote his already-unwavering position. Instead, he looks toward the future, remaining true to himself, his craft and his love for the culture.

HipHopDX recently had the chance to sit with the Gang Starr legend before the Red Bull EmSee National Finals in Atlanta. He spoke about “Premier-isms,” his Sirius situation, and a possible name for the collaborative album with Nas.

HipHopDX: Your style has been immortalized in the culture as "The Primo Sound." Was there ever any added pressure from yourself to remain affixed to the sound you started with?

DJ Premier: Yeah well, I’ve always just felt like: make what you like to hear or what you like to buy and that’s really what it is. I like buying the type of music that I make, which is not to say that I’m riding my own dick or nothing like that but it’s just the sound that I make reminds me of what I used to buy prior to having a record deal. Stetsosonic, MC Shan, [Big Daddy] Kane, Kool G Rap, Eric B. & Rakim, Run-DMC, Public Enemy… Even underground people like U.T.F.O., Full Force, The Real Roxanne, really every Roxanne, all 100 of the Roxannes... [Laughs]

I wanted a record that sounded like “the city,” like if you looked at them and at the album cover, and you heard the music and closed your eyes, it sounded like New York. It’s not like that now, but I don’t wanna see that part go away, because that’s what paid me and got me a house and got me cars and got me to help people that need to borrow $8,000 and I just said, "Oh yeah, I got it. Here." That allowed me to do it, so the last thing I’ma do is stray away from that. The younger generation, I have no problem with what they’re doing because they have a style that they’re into, let them have that. But our lane shouldn’t go unrecognized because our lane opened doors for them to do what they do.

DX: There are a lot of producers who’ve clearly been inspired by you. Some people do pretty well at recreating that Primo vibe, but not quite… [laughs]

DJ Premier: There’s a lot of triers, yeah [Laughs].

DX: So you agree.

DJ Premier: Oh, yeah. Yeah. There’s a few. There’s a few.

DX: Can you name some?

DJ Premier: A lot of people reference Statik Selektah who’s a good friend of mine, mainly on the scratching side, not on the beat side, he definitely has paved his own lane on production style. Even in the earlier Alchemist days when he was sort of veering away from the Soul Assassins style, of how [DJ] Muggs and all of them put their thing together, I could hear Premier-isms in that but again he’s another friend of mine that I hang out with and we go listen to each other’s beats over at the house and be like, "Oh, that’s dope," and not like, "Oh man, that sounds like me." It’s all healthy competition and at the end of the day we’re all in it to stay on top of our craft and it’s also flattering.

I don’t look at it as biting or stealing. You just hear little things and go, "Ahhh… That reminds me of my little snare or my drumroll." It’s not taken in any other way but flattery and on top of that, they keep me on my toes. I was over at Alchemist’s house the day he played“We Gon’ Make It” beat [that was eventually used by Ras Kass and later Jadakiss]. He made it for Nas and I was like, "Yo, Nas gonna kill that." Nas didn’t like the track. I was like, "Damn!" Then he said like, “I’ma give it to Jadakiss.” I was like, ‘I hope [The L.O.X.] kill it." Jadakiss and Styles [P]… Whew… And that’s one of their biggest records, to this day, when it comes on. So you know, it was like, if Nas doesn’t kill it, it’s gotta be somebody else that handles it on that level and that’s a record that comes on to this day and everybody’s like, “That’s my jam.” But we all borrow from each other. Me, 9th Wonder, all of us, we all borrow from each other and we all get on the phone or text each other like, "Yo. You heard that new joint? Oh my God." Or I’ll hit ‘em like, "I hate you, 9th." Or I’ll call DJ Scratch like, "Oh, I hate you." And they know I hate you means I love the shit out of you  because you’re so dope you know.

DX: Can you speak on the Nas album that you’re supposed to be producing? How’d that come about? Have you guys started working on it yet?

DJ Premier: I told Nas that I wanna be on Life Is Good, and I’ve been deejaying for him lately on his Illmatic Tour. I was like, "Yo. I wanna get on Life Is Good. I got some joints," and I gave ‘em to him when we were doing the Regeneration thing with the Berklee Orchestra. He came to the studio and we were trading beats. He took some but he was like, "Yo, this album is almost like a Here, My Dear album," like Marvin Gaye did for his ex-wife. So I was like, "You know what? If it doesn’t fit that, then it doesn’t fit it. I’ll wait until we do our album," and he said, "Wait, let me get through this and put this one out, we’ll start very soon this year." So… He’s said that before but I think this time it’s going down because there’s been more involvement with management and planning it out on how to do it. I’m take his word for it that it’s gonna start this year.

DX: What do you think you’ll name it?

DJ Premier: We joked around that we should call it Finally. I don’t know if that’s what it’s gonna be called but that’d be a dope title, you know what I’m saying? It’s not written in stone but Finally would be dope. [Laughs] You can quote me, but don’t quote me.

DX: [Laughs] Okay. What’s going on over at Sirius? A lot of people were worried that you wouldn’t be coming back on air.

DJ Premier: Well, you know, I’ve been off [air] for almost four months we had some contract issues and you know, there’s always gonna be the “I’m not budging, I’m not budging,” on both ends and we finally came to a common ground. I just re-signed last week. I start back June 1st and I’m so excited. I missed it so much. That’s my baby. I missed the airtime, I love that’s it’s a Friday night, only 10 to midnight. I can still go out. In New York, things don’t start until one or two in the morning I can now leave at 12, after yapping with my boys, be out of there by 12:30. Go right out to a club and hang out and check the scene and still have pleasured everybody by breaking new records. I love breaking new artists and new music to show that there are so many avenues of hip hop besides what regular radio plays.

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RELATED: DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - The KoleXXXion [ALBUM REVIEW]

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81 Comments

  • mdkeren2

    BELOW on every new video article and basically any new piece of content

  • Doubl Negative

    Super stoked to have Live from HeadQCauterz back, I've been starved of hip-hop for three months. Glad to hear all the guys again, hip-hop is back.

  • Fuck Premier

    fuc this nigga, talking like he the king of Hip Hop, nigga nobody knows you! Stop faking and drop dead

  • Vincent H.

    Greatest hip hop producer to ever live and ever will live!

  • Anonymous

    "Wait, let me get through this and put this one out, well start very soon this year." Translation... It's not high on my priority list right now. Thanks for the love though.

  • Anonymous

    http://youtu.be/nx1Tkf4pMXs

  • def

    the nas + premo album will NEVER happen simply because nas has the worst ear for beats for being as talented as he is.

    • R.Pgh

      That argument is so tired it's insane. How do you have a catalog of nothing but platinum and gold albums with all shitty beats?

  • Anonymous

    HEEELL Y EEEZZZ NIKKKAS FINALLY IT HAPPENED - JUST BOUGHT A NEW RIDE - A CAM A RO CONVERTIBLE.GOT APPROVED FOR 26 LARGE. BEEN 5 YRS SINCE IVE GOTTEN SHYT APPROVED, BUT NOW ALL MY CRE DIT SHEET GONE. ALL OF IT. IF YOU STRUGGLING WITH THAT CRE DIT HISTORY ISHH, GET RID OF ALL DAT TODAY - CALL THESE PEEPS AT 8^8^8-9-2-7 -3-3-5-6. . THEY DO AMAZING WORK AND THEY ARE CHEAP AS FUQQ. GOT RID OF ALL MY SHYYT IN NO TIME. MY HOMEBOY WAS IN THE GUTTA TOO, AND HE CLEANER THAN ME NOW-gettin a condo!! Hit em up - THEY WILL HELP U!!d

  • oskamadison

    I've been a Gang Starr/DJ Premier fan since forever and even though I am would like to hear Preme update his style just a little...compared to this shit on the radio now, fuck it, let him stay in his zone, I'll ride with him. I'm not holdin' my breath for that Nas joint though. At this point, if it happens, it happens...

  • pienman

    damn, that will be crazy! the energy & movement NAS is gettin is mad deserving right now.... a full joint with premier is like magic

  • blackula

    This album should have dropped at least five years ago. Preemo doesn't bring the heat consistently like he used to. He'll still drop the occasional banger, but a fair share of dull beats in between.

  • Sensaye252

    Yo Preme...Nas ain't never doin' a album with you fam. That album will drop the same day Detox drops.

  • The Ice Cold Phenom

    DJ Premier is one of the top 3 hip hop producers to ever do it. I would like to hear his sound evolve a bit more but he's still the hip hop standard when it comes to beats. As far as a collaboration album with Nas, Premier has to lace him with some high energy, new and exotic, hip hop shit. The album is highly anticipated.

  • Anonymous

    H-town should get more props in hip hop. We gave you boom bap. Other than New York nobody else has done more for hip hop. Real Talk.

  • 2pac

    DJ KHALED>DJ PREMIER YOUNG MONEY BITCHES PREEMO AINT SHIT COMPARED TO KHALED!!! PREMIER IS JUST A SKANKY ASS OLD DUDE WITH SHITTY BEATS

    • Anonymous

      dont feed the trolls. They are trolling hard. Lol good try tho.

    • Biggie

      PREEMO BEATS ARE REPETITIVE AS FUCK NO STYLE NO CATCHY CHORUS KHALED IS BETTER FUCK OLD SCHOOL YOUNG MONEY IS THE FUTURE NICKI MINAJ IS REAL SHIT COMPARED TO PREMIER

  • Anonymous

    switch your style up old man you still sounds if its 1998. oh and im a premo fan so fuck your comments

  • SchneiderAllen

    as Peggy explained I am shocked that a stay at home mom able to earn $8637 in a few weeks on the computer. did you read this site (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/0jlgq

  • Anonymous

    I love me some Primo beats, i really hope he's gonna be on Life Is Good.

  • Jack Johnson

    Since Premo talks about producers being influenced by him and borrowing samples, I'd like to know what he thinks about the Lupe - Pete Rock situation

  • Anonymous

    Premiero appreciates all producers and still sticks to his roots, very mature

  • Anonymous

    Ain't nothing like a Primo beat. I hope Nas gets together this time and makes that collabo happen.

  • TylertheDestroyer

    Best producer ever... he is the sound of New York.And hes humble to.

    • Sensaye252

      Preme is a legend, but that nigga is NOT humble. If you met him, the first thing you'd notice is his ego. He's on some diva 'I need a manicure before I go on stage' type shit. Trust me.

  • BK

    Not for nuth'n Premo is a str8 diva. Please nigga if want to make an album with Nas get in the studio and lay down some tracks.

  • Anonymous

    pretty happy to hear that hes coming back to hip-hop nation on friday nights!

  • Jacc

    @Sin Locc Dogg Who you think you foolin cuz? You ain't never did shit, stop faking like a crip.

    • Anonymous

      Sin Locc too stupid to put a sentence together, let alone ride on anybody. Get out your mom's basement you internet fag.

  • Sin Locc Dogg

    Fuc this nicca I finna hoo-ride on hiz town fuc with everybkody there

  • Cal

    Salute to True School HipHop check out this new cat www.reverbnation.com/therealmrright

  • Googums

    Its funny how he passed on the We Gon Make It beat because when that instrumental was paired with the Take It In Blood acapella it was magic.

  • Money Frist

    Legend!! Like he said make the music you would 'BUY' key word 'BUY' and like to listen to...I like all styles as well but we shouldn't shut our ears to the foundation and sounds that fathered generations!

  • Anonymous

    Premo is maybe GOAT producer but remember he's 100% fugazy as a record label 'owner'-- ask him when NYGZ is coming out though ask yourself also why NYGZ are so lazy they're waiting on Premo's dead ass. Alc is great, Statik is trash, hard to compare those two except they're white and Statik comes from an even more privileged background-- except it was Alc who got the talent!!!

  • NV1980

    As for Nas... Nas needs some premier in his life... He last couple albums has been lackluster production...

  • NV1980

    Premier is top notch as far as production goes pure and simple for that raw...

  • Big C

    Can't wait for dat Nas/Premo album... That shit gone be something serious!!!! They know thatz past due so make it happen!! Letz go Esco!!

  • ASEE

    Premo's real as shit. Had a chance to see him DJing in NY a few times. Never seen a DJ put on a better show with as much love and energy as Premo.

  • Anonymous

    SOME REAL GOOD HIP-HOP TALK IN THIS INTERVIEW NO HATE OR DISSES OR SUBLIMINALS JADA STYLES & EVE MURKED THAT ALC BEAT NOTICE NO PRAISE 4 RAS KASS BUT IF NAS FREESTYLED OVER THAT BEAT 2DAY & IT WENT ON THE 'NET N!GGAS WOULD GO BANANAS

    • Sensaye252

      Fuck spittin' over popular beats. Everybody does that. One of the things that makes Nas great is that he does shit the way he wants to do it and doesn't cater to the trends. Every time I come on this website all I see is "Racks on Racks Freestyle", "Theraflu freestyle", "Niggas in Paris freestyle", everybody rockin' over the same beats and the beats aren't that great to begin with. Every other song on here is "Spendin it Remix" feat. Lil' Flappy, Big Money Klip, Lil' Fuckface, Young Crack Bag, and the Run-up-in-your-house-and-take-every-motherfuckin-thing-you-got Hustlaz.

    • yup

      YO! THAT is exactly what could get Nas hot right now. Write some ill rhymes and spit over some popular beats. People would get to talking. He'd have more buzz than he has with his "singles" lol.

  • robinhoodtheory

    he passed on so many beats, now hes scrambling doing tracks with literally anybody. soon to come: mac miller ft nas, 2chainz ft chief keef and nas lil b nas collaboration to come soon

  • illone

    I just read the NaS passed up on the "We Gon make it" beat and be all WTFFFF!!!!! This nigga be rapping on some bullshit and he gon reject THAT beat.... But read a few of the comments and see we've got angle well covered... so carry on.... **** Fuck - the - frail shit ****

  • Anonymous

    NAS + AZ + PREMIER

  • mario

    Nas will never do a whole cd with premier long as he is signed to a major label....even if he wanted to.

  • triPAUD

    statik and alchemist dont' sound that much like primo. influenced, yeah, but they have their own distinctive styles. ppl r reachin

  • Anonymous

    STATIK IS RICH WHITE GARBAGE FUNNY HE DRESSES WIGGA AND WENT TO THE OF MOST EXPENSIVE PREP SCHOOLS IN THE U.S... ALL THAT $$$ CAN BUY YOU FRIENDS BUT NOT TALENT DUDE IS STRAIGHT TRASH WITH HORRIBLE ENGINEERING SKILLS

    • Anonymous

      Dude is heated but right, Statik is fucking dogshit. Zero creativity, zero soul, his records all sound lousy. Also, there's a big difference between being suburban and being straight up 1% elite rich-- and that's what Statik is/was. Do your knowledge, son!!

    • Anonymous

      You definitely not a hip hop head... What does it matter where or what school an artist/producer come from, whether he from the burbs or the hood? So De La Soul ain't dope because they from the burbs??? EPMD??? GTFOH!!! You sound like a stupid fuck!

  • Anonymous

    "I was over at Alchemists house the day he playedWe Gon Make It beat [that was eventually used by Ras Kass and later Jadakiss]. He made it for Nas and I was like, "Yo, Nas gonna kill that." Nas didnt like the track. I was like, 'Damn!' " Nas been dropping the ball on hit beats for YEARS! Imagine.

    • chillin

      Haha! He definitely could have used it on Stillmatic...what were Braveheart Party, Destroy & Rebuild and Rule classic beats? Give me a break. I love Nas, but I'm objective, those tracks were pretty wack.

    • Anonymous

      Nas dropped Stillmatic that year... he didn't need that beat

  • lucky don

    Amp from the soul council does Primo better than Primo does Primo I would love for amp and nas to do an album instead of Primo...btw that bumpy knuckles and preme was dope!!

    • Anonymous

      Amp from the Soul Council((9th Wonder's production team) is a Premo clone!! I think he has dope beats but he needs to get Premo's dick out of his mouth.

  • nsparks923

    Damn Nas you passed on the We Gone Make It beat. smh. He has prolly passed on alot of hot tracks over the years Im sure. Still my favorite artist, but cant help to start to buy into the beat selection issues...

  • 2pac

    DJ KHALED>DJ PREMIER YOUNG MONEY BITCHES PREEMO AINT SHIT COMPARED TO KHALED

  • Dan

    Listen.. I've been a fan of Primo for a long time. BUT in the past say 4-5 years he has not dropped anything worth classifying as a classic. The first 2 bars and you say to yourself 'damn this beat is gonna go on for 4 minutes. ALC biting Primo?? No way. Their styles contrast too much. Try 9th Wonder. His whole style is Preem.

  • Anonymous

    HEEELL Y EEEZZZ NIKKKAS FINALLY IT HAPPENED - JUST BOUGHT A NEW RIDE - A CAM A RO CONVERTIBLE.GOT APPROVED FOR 26 LARGE. BEEN 5 YRS SINCE IVE GOTTEN SHYT APPROVED, BUT NOW ALL MY CRE DIT SHEET GONE. ALL OF IT. IF YOU STRUGGLING WITH THAT CRE DIT HISTORY ISHH, GET RID OF ALL DAT TODAY - CALL THESE PEEPS AT 8^8^8-9-2-7 -3-3-5-6. . THEY DO AMAZING WORK AND THEY ARE CHEAP AS FUQQ. GOT RID OF ALL MY SHYYT IN NO TIME. MY HOMEBOY WAS IN THE GUTTA TOO, AND HE CLEANER THAN ME NOW-gettin a condo!! Hit em up - THEY WILL HELP U!!

  • L-Boogie

    Can't beleive Nas passed on the We Gon Make It beat. The joint with Premo should've been out years ago. He's still top 5 regardless! Nas haters in 1,2, 3......

  • Dutch Of York

    This Preme and Nas lp should be called N.Y

  • hahahaha

    Statik Selektah SUCKS. Alchemist does not.

  • Anonymous

    "We Gon Make It" Damn, Nas slept on that track...

  • The B

    Preemo is THE PREMIER producer/beat maker

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