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DJ Premier: The XXL Icon Interview

Everyone has a theory about their relationship. What’s yours?

Definitely brainwash. I know Guru. Even when he didn’t like something, he spoke his mind. Now, he was told what to do. I almost wished that he drank a 40 and spazzed out. Even his face didn’t look the same. It looked like something had been taken away from him.

Do you remember Solar hanging around while you were recording The Ownerz?


What was he like?

He would speak like he does in all the interviews I see but not to the degree of the controlling part of how Guru seemed to allow. It is what you allow. That’s why I can’t be mad at Solar. I’m not mad at him. If Guru allowed this stuff he has to blame himself. People were like, “What are you going to do?” I don’t need to do nothing because Solar is not my enemy. We weren’t there to witness it.

What do you wish you had the chance to tell Guru before he passed?
Let’s make another Gang Starr album. We could have done it independently. We could have shared it – 7 Grand and Year Round. I wish I stepped to him with enough time to snap him out of that zone.

I spoke to Big Shug for that story and he said…

About him being his real friend and all that stuff?

Yeah. He said that you and Guru were business associates and not friends. Was that true?

Half true. I called Shug the next day after reading it and said, “Damn, thanks for throwing me under the bus.” He said, “Yo man. You know I wouldn’t do that.” I know how he said it. That statement can be taken the wrong way by readers. I had the right to step to Suge about it even though he originated Gang Starr with Guru. They were friends from Boston. He even said, “When I said it, I meant it in that context.” But I was like, “Shug, when you say that to a reporter, it’s going to be looked at like we didn’t have a friendship in the world.” Shug and I are cool. He’s my family but I was offended when I read that. Guru wasn’t my friend that I grew up with but you have to have a friendship to have that [business] relationship. We’ve shared two or three girls in a bed, shared hotel rooms because we were on a budget. I knew him like I did grow up with him.

I’ve heard you say that Group Home’s Livin’ Proof was your toughest project


A lot of people think it’s your best work.

I had to make it that way [because of] their lack of lyrical ability and technique. Guru brought Lil Dap into the picture. Melachi lived on my block when Guru and I moved to the Bronx. Melachi was my little buddy. He was crazy and a violent kid. I mentored him to keep him out of trouble because he was 7:30. When he said “I’ll hit your mother with a metal pipe,” he will do it. I’ve seen him do stuff I won’t say on tape. He would only listen to me though.

It seems like you surrounded yourself with all these loose cannons. Why?

My loyalty to Guru. He gave me the opportunity to get to that point in my career. Any smart person would have left Guru and Gang Starr and done their own thing and that’s because I was tired of the negative energy but I stayed loyal to him. I still love Jeru [the Damaja]. We speak. We just spoke about doing music together again. I held a grudge for many years. Now I’ve learned to let go of that. That is poison in your body. I let go of that grudge I had with Chuck D over “Ten Crack Commandments.” [Writer’s Note: Chuck D sued Premier over sampling his voice on “Ten Crack Commandments.” He objected to his voice being used on a song about drugs.] He said he would dead the issue and when we got home from the Smokin’ Grooves tour, he changed his numbers. Back in 1998, 1999, I ran into him at the 7-11. He had his kids with him and we got into it. I told him, “I can’t believe you lied to me.” This is Chuck D, one of my idols, and I was cursing him out in front of his children. We got the lawsuit and it said Works of Mart, Bad Boy and the Estate of Christopher Wallace. I was like, “Have a heart and let her breath, man.” She lost a son but he doesn’t like his name or voice associated with drugs or alcohol and I respect that. Just tell me, “Fuck off, I’m suing you.” Don’t tell me that you are going to dead the issue when we get home from tour, and Don’t worry, you’re not going to pay the money and then I have to pay the money. Puffy helped me out and said he would split the costs. That’s why I’m cool with Puff because he helped me deal with that.

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