DJ Premier (also known as “Preemo”) is a Grammy Award-winning producer and DJ, known for a production style that epitomizes the classic New York City sound. Despite hailing from Texas, Premier moved to Brooklyn in his teens, which undoubtedly had an influence on his signature artistry.

Premier got his start alongside late rapper Guru in the late ‘80s, as part of the now-defunct group, Gang Starr. Then attending Prairie View A&M University and DJing on campus as “Waxmaster C,” Premier sent Guru a beat tape, which led to an invite to join the group as they were going through a change in lineup.

Premier would go on to produce all projects under the Gang Starr umbrella, and the duo saw a great amount of success throughout the ‘90s, often being heralded as pioneers of the “Golden Era” of New York City rap. After seven albums together, the pair disbanded in 2006, and Premier continued to produce for various artists.

Throughout his decades-long career, Premier has produced for The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Big Daddy Kane, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Slaughterhouse, Busta Rhymes, Joey Bada$$, The LOX, Kanye West and many more. He has also joined forces with rapper Royce Da 5’9” to form the duo, PRhyme. To date, PRhyme has released one eponymous album, which debuted at Number 7 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

Premier also runs a successful studio in New York dubbed “The HeadQcourterz,” (formerly D&D Studios) which moved from its original Manhattan location to Astoria, Queens in 2015. His radio Show of the same name airs on Sirius/XM.

Hip Hop since 1987.com.
What's good guys? This is My My for Hip Hop since 1987. We are uptown at La Marina for the Remy Martin producer's event and right here with me is the legendary DJ Premier. How are you doing Primo? There are a lot of up and producers here today. What is the one piece of advice you would give to these up and coming producers?
Premier: We always like to, at least speaking for myself and everybody that I've been with in the beginning of my career with Guru and Gangsta, [inaudible 00:00:54] Guru is to compare yourself to the people that you like. Everybody that I liked in the business, I wanted them to say I want to buy your record. You know what I'm saying? I feel like if I make it to the level where they want to buy my record, I've made it to a point of respect because I respect their music. Age doesn't matter. It is just about respecting how it touches my soul. When I did it in hip hop, to make a name as a hip hop producer, all the artists that I wanted to like what I was doing recognized me and told me they liked my stuff and wanted to work with me. That was the sigh of approval but that's how much people respect the music and the art of creating originality. We all borrow from everybody but at the end of the day, there's something that makes you stand out out of other people and I focus on that.
Maria Myraine:What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you throughout all your 20 plus years in the industry?
Premier: Be original and don't always worry about if everybody doesn't like it. Just, if you really feel it in your heart that it's right, and I think I have a very good ear, not everybody's trained for that but I have, then you do it and believe in it and eventually it will jump off. And if it doesn't, make another one and another one and another one and another one. Something's going to jump off.
Maria Myraine: Now the Remy producers event is in different cities around the US. New York in particular, I want to discuss New York hip hop. What do you think it would take for New York hip hop to get back to its own sounds rather than taking from the trash, down south music?
Premier: That is what I do. I'm not aga ... I'm from the south, but when I came into the business, the New York sound was what motivated me to want to do it. Then when I moved here, I wanted the music to still sound like the way the city feels and looks, so I still do that. That type of a theme music for the background of a track for the emcees or singers just to do their thing to. I'm still rooted in that era but again, I was raised on a lot of music before I rapped. I'm 50 years old, so I've been around before their was any rap records, any scratching, so I have a different respect for even what came before rap. A lot of kids now are born into rap and they miss studying the people that opened the door for them.
We studied everybody that opened the door for us and we respect everybody that opens the door for us. The only difference is, if you're from the old school or whatever school that came earlier and you want to stay relevant, still doing stuff, do stuff that your audience already appreciates and that will pop it off as long as you aim it to the people that made you hot. The people that made me hot, I still make it for them. Anybody else comes on from there, we welcome them too, but I don't do it for the ones I don't now, I do it for the ones I do know.
Maria Myraine: I think for me, a lot of the new up and coming producers, they don't use a lot of samples, and for me, I love a good sample in a hip hop beat. What are your thoughts on that because a lot of people say the art of sampling is dead?
Premier: We just came from the era of sampling. I mean, live instrumentation too was also involved, but it was just the records were just so pure and good that they couldn't front on it if it was just done right. Now the instrumentation is back in the forefront which is dope because we should all know how to play instruments if you're going to be in music. That is something to it but the sampling that I do is an art form. It is just not understood by everybody that doesn't do it. We pay homage to the ones that gave it to us, to be able to sample, but it's deeper than that but it would take way longer [inaudible 00:04:12] them. I'll explain when we do the Q & A.
Maria Myraine: I was going to say. Now, on the technical side, do you use a lot more of the drum samples or do you program your own drums?
Premier: I program my own drums but I get them from somewhere. Girl, you know I play the drum, but my own is just a sample of a kick snare high or look for sounds from records. Anything, just vintage or just something like a scratch in your ear where it's like, I think I can turn that into something. You just gotta kinda experiment and then kind of know. My whole mentality is I'm DJ-ing a job so that's why as a DJ I have a different approach than other people. Maybe some people approach it the same way and not as DJ's, but for me, everything is from a DJ mentality first. I make it the way it's something that I'd want to cut up, something I'd want to play it at a party or even if it's not a party, something that's geared to the audience that already appreciates what we do. True, hip hop a lot like Dave East a lot.
Maria Myraine:I read this thing he's bringing a lot of that New York stuff but he's also missing a lot of that down south.
Premier: He does a little of everything and there's nothing wrong with that because that's the sound of the day. I just don't do that style. I can do it with my eyes closed.
Maria Myraine: I am sure you can.
Premier: But I stick to what works for me.
Maria Myraine: This is a question that I always ask [inaudible 00:05:28]. If hip hop were a person, what would you say to her?
Premier: If hip hop was a person ...
Maria Myraine: What would you say to her?
Premier: Say to her. It's a girl?
Maria Myraine: Yeah, yeah. Didn't you have the [inaudible 00:05:34] song? [inaudible 00:05:38].
Premier: Okay, thank you so much sweetheart. I love you baby.
Maria Myraine: All right, thank you.
Premier: A big old smooch.
Maria Myraine: Thank you so much.

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