"I'M A DIE HARD BONAFIDE 'DIGGIN' IN THE CRATES' TYPE OF DJ"
This Saturday Vinyl Addicts managed to get a hold on DJ Premier for an interview before he had his DJ-set in the SugarFactory in Amsterdam. Eventually we ended up in Akbar, an Indian Restaurant, for this phenomenon being hungry for beats and dish, so sometimes he was a bit short on us for his appetite and fatigue. But nevertheless he was very and by that we mean dreadfully cool. We discussed the early years, him stealing his first turntables and his future projects...
VA: When did Christopher Martin turn in to ‘Waxmaster C’ and how did Waxmaster C turn in to ‘DJ Premier’?
Premier: Christopher Martin turned into Waxmaster C around 1984, ’85. I was in college, I just graduated from high school in Texas. I’m 40 years old now. I was going to college with my boys at the time, they wanted to put a group together and I was good at DJ-ing but I didn’t know how to scratch. So that’s when my man ‘RP’ called up and taught me how to scratch. He was also a student at the school.
VA: What was the name of the group you were in?
Premier: We were called “MC’s in control”, then we changed our name into the “Inner Circle Posse”, ICP, and that was my man ‘Top SKi’, ‘Sugar Pop’, my man ‘Styly-T’ and myself. I needed a name, I was DJ Chris, you know it didn’t work so Waxmaster C was just as good. Everybody had ‘Jam Master’, ‘Grand Master’ so I said ‘Waxmaster’. But there was a ‘Waxmaster Torey’ which came out on ‘B-Boy Records’ which actually hurt my feelings because I was already a fan of B-Boy Records because of ‘KRS ONE’ with Boogie Down Productions, KG Dance, the KG Wop and all of that stuff. When I joined Gang Starr the owner of the label ‘Wild Pitch’, Stu Fine, didn’t like my name. He wanted something a little bit more fresher. I made a list of names, showed it to my mother and she said ´Premier´ sounds more like you and I took that name.
VA: What was the thought behind the name ‘Premier’ for you?
Premier: Just being first at everything. Premier means a fresh new opening. You know like when you have a ‘world premiere’ everybody wants to be there! I wanted to be where my music was, so all of that came into the way and I put it together.
VA: I heard a rumour about you steeling your first Turntables, anything you’d like to confess?
Premier: Hehe yeah, that’s true. That was when I was a little younger; a wild dude. But I finally grew into the right guy now.
VA: As far as I know, the first ‘Gang Starr’ 12”, dating from ’87, was “The Lesson”. At the time you weren’t involved in Gang Starr. It was the Gang Starr Posse from Boston. What happened?
Premier: Yeah that was DJ 1,2 B Down and Donald Dee. That’s where they got the name from; Donald Dee’s brother was called Gang Starr-T. And it was Guru (formerly known as ‘Keithy E.M.C.’).
VA: But then how did you find Guru?
Premier: I used to work in a record store in Texas and the dude that also worked in the record store heard my demo-tape. He then sent it to ‘Wild Pitch Records’ because he used to buy 12-inches from them for the record store. Once they heard that tape, Guru happened to run across it, he sent it to Stu, because he was the owner of the label, like: ”Hey check this out!”. He liked what I was doing and that’s how we started to talk.
VA: But why did Guru quit the group with the other members?
Premier: What it was is that there was no money during that time unless there was a show. They all lived in Boston and Guru wanted to live in New York, so whenever he was running around to get deals in New York, go to the radio stations and do all the networking, they would never show up. They would like wait until there was some money rolling up and when there was a show. Only then they would come up from Boston. So he was like: ”Hey if you’re not gonna help me, I’ll go by myself and I’m going to keep the name”. So he did that and that’s when I joined in ’89.
VA: But then what was the story about the Gang Starr Posse that also released the 12” ‘Read the label’ b/w ‘Swinga’ in ’89 on B Down records. Who was licensed to go on with the name Gang Starr?
Premier: Yeah we stopped that! I wasn’t apart of that, Guru was not apart of that and we didn’t like that. At the time you know what it was is that they thought they could do that because they were originally down. But you know, they found out later on down the line that…it ain’t happening, that ain’t happening!
VA: Your actual debut on vinyl, was that “DJ Premier in Deep Concentration”?
Premier: Yep, both songs; “Word I Manifest” and that…
VA: When did you really start noticing the impact of the productions you made for the industry?
Premier: Ah oh yeah, about when “Step In The Arena” came out, in 1990. That’s when people started to talk more about the different styles of beats and all of that stuff.
VA: Actually you quite soon worked with different groups and MC’s like Lord Finesse, J Rock, Da King & I. How did you build up your name so quick?
Premier: Hehe, yeah yeah yeah. Just by hustlin’ man. In New York it was very expensive to live there, we had no money we had to grind ‘n grind ‘n grind. So I was puttin’ the word out like: ”Yo, I got beats, you can buy ‘em all from me!” And this was before I really made my name big. I still was like: ”Hey, I’m available” and those guys were reaching out to me saying: ”I got a little money for you, do a beat!”. And ehm…so I went towards where they would pay me to do my music. Later on KRS ONE started to call, ‘Ice-T’ called me. Actually as far as a big artist Ice-T called me first and then it just started to go up from there. With KRS ONE and Rakim and ehm…you know.
VA: About J Rock again on Ghetto Groovz Records. I asked Finesse but I have to be sure! What about this female chick named Beverly, you produced four tracks for her, is that material still floating around on Digital Audio Tape (DAT)?
Premier: Oh shit yeah, I remember that. Nah she moved down south and started a family. I don’t know, I doubt there is any material left. Lord Finesse wrote the lyrics anyway…
VA: What happened to J Rock after the “Streetwize” album?
Premier: He went to jail for a long time. He’s out now but I don’t know what he’s doing.
VA: I heard the owner of the label, Jeff Murphy, also got locked up…
Premier: Yeeeah man, that was my dude right there! He went to jail for a looong time! He was the guy that said: ”I got some cash and I want to do some joints”, so I said: ”Bring me a rapper!” and then he brought J Rock and Beverly. And ehm…an other dude…
Premier: Oh shit yeah MCM, yep yep, they were good people. They were from Upstate New York. Those were some good times man!
VA: About Gang Starr again; you and Guru split up, since the group split up did you ever feel like something wasn’t right?
Premier: We have not split up. We have just been in a definite hiatus. So we’re both doing our own thing and when ever the time is right…
VA: I mean, I read this interview with Guru and he said he didn’t want to do anything with the Gang Starr Foundation anymore. I think that’s not really fair towards you right?
Premier: Yeah, he’s saying that now. Until I say it’s officially a wrap, it’s not official. We just don’t know when we’ll turn back but it’ll happen, trust me! Even if I gotta yank ‘em and throw ‘em in the studio you know what I’m sayin’? Hehe, hahaha!
VA: What’s your ambition nowadays since you’re no longer in the group?
Premier: To just keep the culture alive first of all because it has gotten very watered down and it has to go back to being pure. Right now I’m here to purify all the shit that scattered fucked up. Just make it more even, it’s very imbalanced now.
VA: Can you specify “watered down”?
Premier: There’s a lack of original skilful stuff that would be making me buy more records. The records are not holding their weight, really music in general. So that’s why I worked with Christine Aguilera. She pushed a different way into it and I did the same thing. We’re about the same thing so, we’re going to force to change. I feel good about next year, 2007 is going to be good. ‘Year Round Records’, remember that name, ‘NYG’s’, ‘Blaq Poet’, ‘Kalil’…it’s gonna be ill.
VA: Like you said you’ve worked with Christina Aguilera, can we expect any other collaborations like this? I heard something about Whitney Houston.
Premier: I met with Clive Davis, he asked me if I was interested in Whitney Houston and I said: ”Yeah”. I’ve got to make some joints and if she likes it…maybe. It’s not official, but I would love to do it.
VA: Your production skills seem to last forever. Do you feel like you have to be number one or is it just that you’ve got this magic touch you’re blessed with?
Premier: Yeah it’s the feeling! I don’t have to be number one. I want to be in the top five though! Hehehe, yeah but as long as it’s dope man and I know what dope sounds like. See these big ol’ ears? I know what it sounds like…
VA: How do you compare yourself to DJ’s like ‘Mix Master Mike’ or ‘Qbert’?
Premier: We’re all different; they’re all battle DJ’s and I’m a producer and a rhythm scratcher. That never was my thing, I like to watch ‘em; ‘Jazzy Jeff’, ‘Ca$h Money’, ‘Miz’, ‘Aladdin’, you know people like that…’DJ Scratch’.
VA: In between, what happened to DJ Miz after ‘Freshco & Miz’ split up?
Premier: I don’t know man, I need to ask Ca$h Money to find out where he is, he’s a good guy. I’d love to see him again.
How you lookin’ there brother?
Premier: I wanna go out there and smoke a lil’ weed! You know, ‘cause if that weed runs out I’m gonna be like: ”Aww maaan!”. Hehehe…
VA: Kool, I’m almost done. Do you collect records yourself too or did you get all those records you use for cuts and that “NY reality check 101” compilation for free?
Premier: Yeah everything I have I collect. I’m a die hard bonafied ‘Diggin’ In The Crates’ type of DJ.
VA: If you would make a volume 2 of the NY Reality Check, which indy’s would you involve?
Premier: There won’t be another one. That was the only one…only one, never again…
VA: Alright I’ve got this thing I’d like to do. I brought some records and if you like you can give a comment on what they meant to you over the years.
Erule – Listen up 12”
Wow, that’s a good record. I used to be on WBLS back in ’92 ‘til ’94. For real, I used to bang the hell out of this record! Good record, excellent!
Freddie Foxxx – So Tough 12”
Bumpy Knucks! Yeah, So Tough man…this is what made us all go back to the gym and work out to get in shape! Haha, it was this guy right here. The video was crazy!
The Hill That’s Real – The Hill That’s Real LP
Alright M.O.P.! That’s the beginning right here, Lil’ Fame, that was before Billy Danz! Ill record…
Just-Ice – Back To The Old School LP
The original Hip Hop gangster, the original Hip Hop gangster, the original…original here me? Hip Hop gangster Just-Ice. The oooriginal Hip Hop gangster here me? This dude right here! Big shout to my man Just-Ice, big shout to DMX, wind-it-up!
Awww I missed?! Daaamn, I wanted a smoke!
VA: Haha, sorry that’s my bad man!
Premier: Hehe, yeah that’s your fault! Never mind…
Latee – No Tricks 12”
Latee, he dropped the first Wild Pitch record I ever heard; “This Cuts Got Flavor”! Good records!
Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Pt.II 12"
That is one of the illest records in the history of Hip Hop music! One of the most hardcore ever; well produced, well rhymed, with ‘Prodigy and Havoc’. I remember they brought that record to me FIRST to the radio station and I listened to it during a commercial. As soon as the commercial was over I went right in to that song. It’s such a good record for ever, for life that’s a ill fuckin’ record!
Kurious – Walk Like A Duck 12”
Awww man, Kurious Jorge – Walk Like A Duck with crazy ass ‘Lord Sear’! Look at Lord Sear yo, ayo Gordon! (tour manager) look at Lord Sear!
Gordon: ”Haha, oh my Goood! He wasn’t fat back then! A little baby!”
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted Dead Or Alive LP
I like that better than “Road To The Riches”, one of the illest gangster street, lyrical ability and music. Right there…
Thanks to Live & Legendary