DJ Premier has produced many rightly revered songs from the likes of Jay-Z, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G and, of course, his collaboration with the late Guru, Gang Starr. But as a top-tier producer (who has just released a compilation album called DJ Premier Presents: Year Round Records - Get Used To Us), there are some tracks he wishes he had concocted. Here are his top five favourites...
M.C. Shan - The Bridge
Produced by Marley Marl. Initially released in 1986.
“I’m from Texas originally and I went to Prairie View A&M University. It was my freshman year in college and Run DMC came to perform at my school with Dana Dane and Clark Kent. They would put on music in between acts and ‘The Bridge’ came on. I was like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ It was just, ‘The Bridge,’ ‘The Bridge,’ ‘The Bridge’ and then the drum roll with the duh, duh, duh, duh. The way it sounded with the echo, it was just so hard. I thought it was saying, ‘The Breaks.’ I was like, ‘That shit is hard,’ because I had already liked ‘The Breaks’ by Kurtis Blow back in 1980, so to hear someone saying ‘The Breaks’ and it was ill way he was saying it. Then, to find out it was ‘The Bridge, from there on, I was a Marley Marl fiend - nobody is more of a Marley fiend than me. To this day, it’s so fucking ghetto. That record’s so dope.”
Audio Two - Top Billin’
Produced by Audio Two and Daddy-O. Initially released in 1987.
“Who would take [The Honey Drippers’] ‘Impeach The President’ and just chop it like that? I remember King Of Chill showed me the little trigger machine they used. It was like the size of my BlackBerry. They used it to get it like that, the dun, dun, dun dun dun, because back then we weren’t on MPCs and all that stuff yet. The way Milk sounded on it and they just kept stopping, you can hear the next line echoing before he said it. I was like, ‘What the fuck?’ It blew me the fuck away, man.”
Eric B. & Rakim - Eric B. Is President
Produced by Eric B. & Rakim, remixed by Marley Marl. Initially released in 1986.
“It’s ill because I used to love ‘Funky President’ by James Brown - I’m a James Brown fanatic. To hear those sounds in the beginning and every time he went into another line, you’d hear that little quick drum roll, I was like, ‘Yo, that shit is ill.’ That’s when we started doing the wop. To this day, you know when that comes on everybody does the wop.”
Jay-Z - U Don’t Know
Produced by Just Blaze and initially released in 2001.
“I wish I had made this and I told [Just Blaze] this the other day. First of all, I have the original sample, so Just Blaze just destroyed that. He showed his scientific side with that record and Jay just slaughtered it lyrically, even just the ‘Turn my music high’ part. I just can’t stop playing that part before you get to the lyrics - the lyrics are dangerously ill. Jay always goes in, but that’s definitely one of the most incredible records ever made in hip-hop.”
it’s emotional when you hear it and those horns go, ‘dananana.'
M.O.P. - How About Some Hardcore
Produced by Darryl Dee, co-produced by Laz-E-Laz. Initially released in 1993.
“I saw the video on Video Music Box and they were just grimy. And that sample, it’s dope when you just play the original anyway. But it’s emotional when you hear it and those horns go, ‘dananana.’ They just shitted on that. We used to see The Source magazine back when they were really a hip-hop magazine and Select Records would always advertise and [the “How About Some Hardcore” single] had that cover with the knife it in. I was like, ‘What kind of shit is that?’ ‘How About Some Hardcore’ and there’s a fucking knife on the cover? I thought it was kinda silly. Then the video has the same knife in the wall. I saw it and how they looked and they’re from Brooklyn and they just looked like they could hurt something, which they do. I’ve been in brawls with them. It’s a well-done record. Well done.”