Whenever one year rolls into the next, we tend to reflect on everything that came our way in the previous year and what we have to look forward to in the year to come. While 2010 brought us plenty of memorable albums, DJ Premier is promising there will be a lot for hip-hop heads to look forward to in 2011. Knowing that he would not be able to release any of these projects that he was working on before the year ended, he wanted to give fans something to tide them over. Laughing, Preemo refers to this as “the stalling album.” In mid-December, his stalling project dropped: DJ Premier presents Year Round Records – Get Used To Us.
“I really wanted to drop at least one album in 2010, and I wasn’t ready. NYG’z and Nick Javas are the closest to being done. NYG’z will be the first album I produced in its entirety since Gangstarr’s The Onwerz(2003). They have been a part of the Gangstarr foundation from back in the day.” Listening to their single “Policy,” that classic Gangstarr sound is unmistakable. It is almost like it is a way to let fans know, if they already didn’t, that they are a part of the foundation: ”With me, I come with that DJ mentality. Because I think like a DJ first that has a lot to do with when I am going to drop something new. ‘Policy’ sounds like that type of a record that provides a proper introduction to where they are going to go from that point on. The album is really dope. It has some of my best production, and as far as being original, I just went with real left field beats. We didn’t follow the same protocol on the album. Not every song is hook, rhyme, hook, rhyme. Some records someone is rapping for two bars, and then someone will rap for four, and then someone will rap for 12. We tried not to follow the same pattern for how hip-hop records are supposed to be made. There is nothing to skip. I have never made fillers, and this is no different.” Pulling from each of the projects that he has been working on, this compilation gives fans a heads up for what they should check for. To support this current project and build anticipation towards those projects dropping in 2011, Preemo will drop four singles: ”Fine By Me “by MC Eiht, “Policy”by NYG’z, “Hot Flames” by Khaleel, and “Opportunity Knocks” by Nick Javas. With the exception of MC Eiht, these four singles, which all have their own videos to accompany them, represent the Year Around stable of artists.
Part of Preemo’s strategy for releasing four singles is to make sure that he gives an artist from each region their proper shine: ”Eiht’s from the West Coast, Khaleel’s from Texas and can work the south, NYG’z represent New York, and Nick Javas represents New Jersey for all of the Italians out there. I am really taking it there with being different. Even though I own my own label, I had to fight my label manager on dropping four singles because he thinks it is a bit much, but I am like why not? We are independent. When you are independent, you can do whatever you want. You don’t have to follow the same map of major labels. ” With all of his experience dealing with labels over the years, it seems like Preemo wants to run his label like he runs his Sirius Satellite Radio program: “Exactly. It is just like when they hired me to do the Sirius Satellite show, I said, ‘what do you want me to do?’ They said, the same thing that you did in ’92 on WBLS.’ That is exactly what I do. We do everything from the perspective of how radio used to be fun. I remember when I used to listen to the radio and would run home just to tape a show, so I could have the freshest hip-hop for that week, and no DJs really do that anymore. I do it and a few others, but we are the only one’s taking it there, and you have a chance to get your record heard not because we are looking out for anybody but because we think you should hear it. I play it because it is a good record, and I want to hear it.”
This could be the simplest way to sum up Premier’s DJ mentality: Create great albums that not only does he think fans should hear, but he wants to hear as well. FANBOYS will always concoct their dream team collaborations, but Premier, alongside Pete Rock, is actually working to make at least one dream collaboration come together. ”Me and Pete Rock did the DJ Premier Vs. Pete Rock show in Tokyo, Japan for Manhattan Record’s 30th anniversary of their store being in existence. It was a really good concert, and we are getting ready for our flight, and we are like ‘Yo where is Pete?’ And Pete is out digging for records to make beats. We call him on the phone, and are like ‘Yo, get back to the hotel, we are on the van ready to go, and he was like ‘OK let me just go to one more record store.’ We told him he should have done that yesterday, so I was like, don’t make have to battle you, and Corey Smith, his manager, was like you should battle and put it on wax, so the album came about because we almost missed out flight because he wanted to go to the record store early in the morning, but that’s Pete; he dumbs out like that; he can do that; he’s the homie. He’s laid his ground work and still a funky ass motherfucker.” They both agreed to do the versus album where they would each get to work with six different MCs. Knowing Preemo’s history with legendary MCs, one thing is certain: He doesn’t want to be predictable, but wants to hit people with the unexpected: “Instead of me going for a Jay-Z or a Drake or a Kayne, which I would do if I was doing a DJ Premier solo album, we are keeping it underground. Let’s go with a Beatnuts and a Gza. I won’t tell anymore of the artists. Premier and the Beatnuts, no one is expecting that. Premier and Gza, no one is expecting that. ” While the intention was to keep the artists a secret, both artists are revealing some of the cards they are holding: “I know that he is working with Torae because he did it in my studio, and he didn’t hide it from me. I played it, and the beat is fucking crazy. It is some different Pete Rock, and Torae got busy on it. I told him he can’t tell me anyone else, that he just has to surprise me. I have all of my artists except for two, and they are all unexpected artists.” While this is a Vs. project and both want to bang out the hardest records. Preemo suggests that there could be a couple of tracks where some cross collaboration occurs: “We have had some discussion about maybe me scratching on his record or it might have been him rhyming on one my beats, so it is possible.” While he has not discussed doing any other Vs. projects with other producers, he does reveal that he and Scratch have talked about doing a project together.
What binds each of the artists that he is working with is their hunger to put out good music. Even though each artist provides a different challenge to work with, Preemo insists that working with veterans that he has a relationship with is easy. Return of the Boom Bip, the KRS-One/ Preemo Collaboration, is one of those seamless collaborations. “It is so much fun to work with Kris, and I know how easy it is going to be working with him. It isn’t going to be [in a whiny voice] ‘I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this.’ He is going to go in. I am going to go in. That beat for 5%was originally for Rakim when he was on Aftermath, and it was called the “The Mind of Rakim.” After things fell through with his Aftermath project, the beat was just sort of sitting. When me and KRS got together to take about beats for this track, he asked if I had anything just laying around. I told him that I always wanted to use this beat. When he heard the beat, he said he was looking to do a track about the 5% nation for the 21st Century. Sudenly there is a knock at the door, and it was Ice-T and his wife, and we were all talking. He said that we needed to get someone like a Grand Puba on the record. Me and KRs-both said ‘Grand Puba!’ and smiled. I called Lord Finesse who told me that he was in a bar in Harlem. He came in walking like Frankenstein because he had a snuck a drink out under his arm. We did the song that night, and Puba took the song home to get his verse perfect because there were a couple of things that he wanted to fix. It sounds like what it is supposed to sound like. We even got a song called “Return of the Boombip.” Kris ran into Q-Tip on the street. I didn’t even know Tip was coming with Kris. We were trying to decide a name of the album. I was like, ‘Why don’t we call it Return of the BoomBap Part 2? Krs was like, ‘No, why don’t we call it return of the Boom Bip, and he, I and Tip start going boom bip, the boom bip. After we decided that was going to be the tile, I said I got a beat for Tip to jump on. We are really going to make this a masterpiece like Return of the BoomBap is.”
With all of these projects coming out and the revelation that he is producing the NYG’z album in its entirety, the discussion shifts to what would be another dream collaboration: Preemo producing an entire Jay-Z or Nas album: “Yes, me and Nas talked about doing an entire album right before him and Jay squashed the beef when I was getting to work on the Christina Aguilera album. When he asked me if I would do an entire album, I said, ‘absolutely.’ We had to keep stopping, and then I ran into him at Rock the Bells D.C. show. Lauryn Hill brought Nas out as a special guest to perform “If I Ruled The World.”Right as he gets done, he gets off stage and there is this big entourage, and I am like I am not going to go over there; I know how that goes.” Premier is eventually spotted by one of those in Nas’ entourage, and Nas calls him over saying that he needs to talk to him: ”If we do this album, would you tour with me?” I said, “of course. Let’s do this shit man. Who wouldn’t go to a Nas/DJ Premier Tour?
Premier has the ability to make a good MC sound great and a great MC sound timeless, so it shouldn’t come as surprise that he is in such high demand. Long time collaborator Freddie Foxx will be dropping The Collection this year. “It’s almost like a greatest hits of me and him that never got released.” The project will feature rare cuts, a lot of unreleased material, and seven new tracks that they completed for this project. Consider that in one year Preemo will be dropping projects with the legendary Pete Rock and KRS-One, veterans Freedie Foxx and MC Eiht, hungry upcoming artists NYG’z, Khaleel, and Nick Javas, there shouldn’t be any reason why 2011 isn’t one to remember for Preemo. Can you think of another time when he dropped this much material in one year? In addition to all of these mentioned projects, there is one MC who has expressed a desire to work on an album with Premier but instead has discussed being a part of a very different and very special event. “I would be down, I actually spoke with Kurupt the other day when I put this Guru tribute concert together. I asked him to perform the “You Know My Steez” Remix with Lady of Rage because I am bringing all of the remix artists into the fold for the concert in 2011. In addition, Preemo stresses that when he is ready to go there, he will make a Gangstarr Foundation tribute album with all proceeds going to Guru’s son to set up his future.
With all of the upcoming projects (including some production work for Busta Rhymes and the Game), Preemo admits this is his greatest opportunity to experiment: “That is totally what it is. There is a big window open right now, and no one is jumping through it, so I want to jump through it and take control over a lot of this shit, so I put the balance back into it and blends right in with all of the stuff that is out there. I am that strange car next to the Lambo and Ferrari at the light that puts them in awe and is ready to take off when the light turns green. “