As Dilated Peoples gears up to release its upcoming album, Directors Of Photography, on Rhymesayers Entertainment, DJ Babu says the group’s bond with DJ Premier has continued to grow through the years. So, when the time came for the trio to work on their first album in approximately eight years, it made sense for them to recruit Premier for a beat on the effort. 

“For us, it was an honor and no brainer,” Babu says while discussing the group’s work with Preemo in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “Come on. You’re getting a track from DJ Premier. It’s almost the end-all, say-all of this Rap shit.”

Now a friend of the group, Premier, who produced “Clockwork” on Dilated’s Expansion Team album, sent some work their way for the new effort. 

“He sent over a few [beats],” Babu says, “more than most people get. We actually have a relationship with him, where we actually get a little room to pick and choose.” 

One of those beats was for “Good As Gone,” a cut DJ Premier produced on Directors of Photography.  

“This was probably the third one he sent over,” Babu says. “We all went ‘Boom! Here it is.’ That was the easy part. The hard part was us three in the room just brainstorming. ‘Okay, you got this beautiful backdrop ready to get ripped.'”  

DJ Babu Explains The Nature Of Dilated Peoples’ Directors Of Photography

Babu says Dilated tried two or three different versions of the song before finalizing the cut. This part of the process exemplifies the group’s journey on Directors of Photography. “I think that was the nature of our record,” Babu says. “Nothing came too easy or too quick, because we always had this pressure of, you know ‘This is our comeback.’ Especially this track. It’s DJ Premier. You are bringing your A-plus game.”

The results were impressive, Babu says.

“It ended up being one of the most exciting songs on the record,” he explains. “Definitely something I think we are all talking about putting a visual to. Just in the sense that it’s the lone Dilated Peoples cut produced by DJ Premier [on this album]. The value in that for us is priceless, man. The guys really did their thing on the raps and killed the beat Preemo gave us. It’s one of those beats that has a crazy change. You know, like that part that’s the intro and the hook is just a damn near different beat than when the guys are actually rhyming. We are really excited. I really feel like we got Preem to really come up with something special for us.” 

DJ Babu, who handles the scratches on this DJ Premier-produced cut, says the vocal samples they used on the track made the concept clear for Evidence and Rakaa. 

“I feel for this one, it felt right for me to scratch,” he says. “We really pushed Preem to come with this crazy, magical beat. Me, Ev and Rak had a really difficult time like settling with an idea, and I think when we finally found the right cuts, it really helped bring everything together. We tried two or three song ideas on this one before it finally came together, but we damn-near collaged together three ideas to get this one idea for this Preemo song. You know, I’m sure Preemo could have come in there and did his thing, but being one of the last groups that has a real deejay in the group, even though Preemo’s producing the track, I thought it would be good for me to be on the cut.”

DJ Babu Recalls DJ Premier’s Response To Cuts On “Good As Gone” 

More than this, DJ Babu says he was honored by Premier’s reaction to his cuts. 

“I’m really blessed because he put some vocals on the beginning of the top of the track, shouting us out and stuff,” Babu says. “It even says  ‘DJ Babu on the cut’ right before I start scratching. I was just so flattered, like ‘Preem just shouted me out.’ Not only to get to scratch on the Preem track, but to get the thumbs up from him, really meant a lot to me, man. He’s such a big influence on me and the whole group.” 

In October 2013, DJ Babu spoke with HipHopDX about the album and its progress at the time

“In this process, not that much has changed,” DJ Babu said at the time. “You’d be surprised how easily you fall back into your roles and understand where you fit in with each other. Being in the studio is definitely something that we love and something that we would probably do whether we had a Dilated album to work on or not. We’re like studio rats. Ev was definitely producing the shit out of this record. All of us, but Ev was really striving for a sound. We still are striving for a particular cohesive sound that we’re trying to get. Things have changed since we’ve been around, but we’re trying to walk a fine line between keeping it classic and pushing it forward…We’ve spent a lot of time sharpening our swords and I feel like Ev’s been leading us in that direction, to really try new things while still being us.”

Directors of Photography does not have a release date, but the album is expected to be released this year. For more on what Babu, Evidence and Rakaa have said about the project, click here

Photography Of DJ Babu By: Evidence

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