DJ Premier is one of the cornerstones of Hip-Hop, he has changed the game several times. Together with the late great Guru as Gangstarr, they defined the Boom Bap Hip-Hop sound of the 90s. Premier is the only producer to have created tracks on the debut albums of Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z. Premier has influenced all of the great ones and continues to push the boundaries of Hip-Hop across the globe, so is it any surprise that Dr Dre flew Premier out to LA to work on the new ‘Compton’ album?
How you feeling today?
I’m good, blessed, everyday I wake up is a good day, so life is good, being a part of the Compton album with Dre is a blessing. Its a really dope album, cos its funny when I look at some of the comments when I post out about it, some guys are like ‘ah its trash, its whack, I’m not feeling it’ and I’m like ‘wait a minute’ we come from the era of where you let a album play, intro to outro, don’t skip nothin’. This is the era of putting real bodies of work back together and its a soundtrack to the movie which is a really dope movie. I saw it at Dre’s studio and then I saw it in the theatre with Ice Cube and the cast of the film, the cast that played Easy, Dre and Cube’s son. All them G’s they were all there and F Gary Gray the director, and it was just amazing to watch it in the theatre with everybody and get their reaction, and I already got my reaction when I saw it in Dre’s studio.
Its a dope movie, all the characters are that accurate, even the Suge Knight character is accurate with his demeanour, the way he carry himself, everyone, Jerry Heller. Everybody really got busy in the movie and its so on point. So when you watch the movie and then hear the soundtrack again, its even more ill, because none of those songs are in the movie, its just an inspiration for the film. Then Dre decided last minute to even do it, he wasn’t even planning on doing this album, so it’s just a beautiful thing how it came out. The soundtrack to the movie, you gotta ride and listen to it. I come from an era of riding and having a big ol’ boom box and that’s how we listen to records, all these laptop people don’t even know how to. Most of these people are laptop kids and they have no understanding or patience to hear what a real album sounds like. So big up to Dre and his whole work ethic and his whole team in the whole Aftermath family for doing what they did.
I don’t like streaming, but I had to do it last night. I saw a link on Twitter, and had to listen to the new ‘Compton’ album straight away. I didn’t read none of the hype before the release, I like to listen to an album and take it on face value and just marinate on it and feel it. Then I heard your voice, then the cuts were insane, it was a good surprise. People don’t realise the importance of the right cuts, the right scratches on a track and you’ve always had the art locked down….
Shout out to DJ Rhettmatic, he was at the session when I was doing the scratches and I was one line short, so the line that says ‘lets face it you basic boy’ he gave me that one, he was pulling up lines and all the rest of them that I had just laid down. Cos I just freestyle my hooks, I just look for sounds to lines that are relevant to the song title or what they say in the verses and that’s how i do it, and I don’t really map it out. But I can always tell where the line should go, like I could mess around with alot of lines and go ooh that one shouldn’t be the first one, that one should be the third and this one should be the first and like that I’m good at knowing this one should connect to this.
..Dre walked in the room to see how it sounded when it was complete and he was like ‘yo’, cos he was in the other room mixing 6 other songs for the album. He was like ‘yo’ I’m gonna make this date, and he kept his word.
Thats a crazy story, its a big move and you’re part of history once again…
Its a blessing, I’m 49 years old and I was 19 when I joined Gangstarr and I still stay relevant to whats out there but at the same time I keep my style rockin’ for how I like to listen to music. So no need to change it and again big big salute to Dre and the whole Aftermath family for what they did putting this album out when it’s really needed. To finally have an album you could just listen to it from top to bottom and 16 songs on top of that, most people now don’t do that many songs on an album anymore cos its kinda played out but for Dre it was definitely the right thing to do.
‘Animals’ with DJ Premier on the cuts, how did that come about?
Anderson .Paak my man, and shout out to BMB Spacekid from Moscow Russia too, thats actually how the record originally originated it was a beat that I did for Boilerroom TV out in Moscow, when I was in Russia for a project that I supposed to do with MF Doom and Doom got sick and couldn’t make it. They told me we could get a singer to replace him and I was like who is it and he said ‘Anderson .Paak’ and ‘I said ‘I’ve never heard of him’ and he was like ‘yo let me send you a link of some of his videos and if you don’t like him we’ll find somebody else’. He sent me a joint called ‘Suede’ that Knowledge had put on there and produced and he’s on Stones Throw records, shout out to Peanutbutter Wolf. From there I flew out to Moscow and met Anderson and you know he’s from the West Coast and he jumped on another record we did a joint called ‘Till Its Done’, but the beat that we put on for ‘Animals’ was just the first beat that I did and we just decided which one we were gonna roll with and that one was just a spare beat that we had.
So we were messing around with Russian samples since we were in Moscow and from there when we got back home, the Freddie Gray incident happened where the cops shot Freddie Gray out in Baltimore and all the riots started happening. So Anderson called me and was like ‘yo I wanna lay a song to that beat’ we didn’t use, because I’m really angry about what’s going on in Baltimore with the cops killing everybody and doing all this crazy stuff’. And I was like alright send it to me when you’re done and he’s like ‘Ima send it to you tonight I’m going to the booth right now.’ He sent it and I was like wow this is hard and he’s like ‘Yo maybe we should leak it out to the street and let the world hear it while it’s still fresh with the whole thing with the riots going on’ and I was like ‘I’m with that’. So we were gonna set that up, then he was like ‘Yeah I got a meeting with Dre this week with my manager and you know hopefully everything goes good with doing some more work with him’ cos he was already doing stuff and then next thing you know he told Dre I had just done a record in Russia with Anderson and he was like ‘Yo, lemme hear it’.
At the time it was called ‘FSU’ which is for ‘F Shit Up’ its good for F shit up, so from there Dre heard it and loved it and was like ‘Yo I wanna rap on it’ and he said, ‘do you mind if I change it from ‘FSU to ‘Animals’?’ Being that he said that in the hook and I was like ‘yeah I’m cool with that’. So he was like ‘why don’t you just come onto L.A and lets work on it together and add a few other things to it and have you mix it down with me being when we finish the album’ and I was like cool. So I went up to L.A and rocked with him and we changed the title to ‘Animal’. I already had a record called ‘Animal’ from Dynamic Duo out of North Korea, and it was only released in Korea and its rapped in Korean language, but this ones ‘Animals’ with an ‘s’ featuring Anderson .Paak and he’s just an amazing artist. So everybody look out for him, you’re gonna to be hearing from him alot, he really did his thing on this album too, I was just playing ‘Satisfiction’ and thats just hardcore right there.
Listen to the full #DreDay special with DJ Semtex on BBC 1Xtra now.