DJ Premier Talks New Music With LL Cool J, Joey Badass, And More

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By: / March 8, 2013

DJ Premier laughs at the suggestion. No, there are not any retirement plans for the legendary producer and one half of the iconic hip-hop duo Gang Starr. Not when he can fill up concert halls in America and overseas. Not when he’s still in-demand as a respected beat-man. “I’m on tour right now,” Preemo says during a gig in Geneva Switzerland. “This is what I do…hip-hop.” Indeed, when VIBE caught up with the man who has produced bangers for everyone from the late Notorious BIG (“Ten Crack Commandments”) and Nas (‘Nas Is Like”) to Christina Aguilera (“Ain’t No Other Man”) and most recently the Game (“HVN4AGNGSTA” featuring Master P) he was in a talkative mood. Here’s the great man in his own words on a variety of subjects from his ever expanding studio workload to why Jay-Z currently reigns as the GOAT.—Keith Murphy (murphdogg29)

On Being A Boss And Recording New Music With LL Cool J, MC Eiht And More…
“I have my own label Year Round Records. I have a group called the YGz. Then there’s Khaleel—he’s an artist off my label and he’s from Houston, Texas. I wanted to get somebody from my hometown to sign, so Khaleel will be coming out with a new album. I’m also working on D.I.T.C. Inc. It’s a new project that’s coming out with the younger generation that’s adding on to the original Diggin’ In The Crates crew. I’m working with LL Cool J on his new album project. When we were on Twitter people were like we want to hear an LL/Premier collabo. And I said, ‘So would I.’ [laughs] And LL tweeted me back, so we are making that happen. Also Bumpy Knuckles and I are doing an album together, and we are starting a new MOP album. And MC Eiht and I are doing a project together called Which Way Is West. We have a seven song EP out right now called Keep It Hood. It’s doing really well.”

On Joey Badass And The New Generation Of Hip-Hop…
“I have a Joey Badass record “Unorthodox” that’s out right now. A friend of mine showed me an interview of Joey saying that Gang Starr was one of the groups that made him want to rap and that our Moment of Truth album made him want to pick up a pen. So I just tweeted him and said, ‘Shout out to Joe Badass for bigging up Gang Starr in his interview.’ And he was like, ‘Yo, it’s an honor.’ We started talking on the phone quite a bit. When he got the offer to do the Green Label Sound thing with Mountain Dew he was like, ‘Yo, I want Preem to do it.’ It’s important to keep that connection with the younger hip-hop artists out today.”

On Jay-Z’s Otherworldly Staying Power…
“Remember when Jay-Z retired and walked away from the game? When it got sour Jay was like, ‘Oh, this shit is getting wack…I have to get back in this shit.’ I’m glad Jay came back. He’s still relevant making big records [with Justin Timberlake]. The best, most dominant rapper in the hip-hop right now is a 43-year-old man named Jay-Z. I think that’s big for the culture. That’s a beautiful thing.”

On The Rise of Gang Starr To Becoming A Hip-Hop Legend…
“I was 23 when Gang Starr got our major label deal. So to go all the way from that to being 46 and still selling out gigs to over 2000 people a night as a DJ is huge. I’m onstage like an artist; I’m not just spinning records. I’m there front and center making people go crazy. I give that much of my all because I was schooled by watching Run-DMC and LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Doug E. Fresh…all those guys pride themselves in being great performers. We have to make sure that the hip-hop greats still exist. If we don’t then we are leaving it up to the next generation that doesn’t really respect the elders that opened the doors for them. There’s no way we are going to be able to last if we don’t give it up to the pioneers.”