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.

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Magnetic

    Dope interview. Gangstarr has got to be the sureshot

  • mick

    the greatest producer of all time. premo when you coming to scotland?

  • Worley

    Salute to Preemo. A Nas/Preemo album and tour would be epic. Some Fresh Fest type sh!t.

  • Don mcCaine

    “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”

    ^ BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA…AND WE STILL SUPPORTED IT…’Baby Pa’ is my fave song on ‘Livin’ Proof’.

    good read here…Can you “fans” see that there was no rap cumbaya holding hands sh^t? None of that “I’m too good to respond” bullsh^t. Anyway…

    “I’ve done Wal-Mart commercials that you wouldn’t know I did. I’ve done Back to School instrumentals for Wal-Mart”

    ^ I have a blog up about the ‘The Rap Alphabets’ that speaks on stuff like this. There are other ways to get you’re music out there…

  • Q461

    Wow. My thoughts.

    # 1 Primo is the best producer in hip-hop history. Pete Rock, Dre, Rza are all up there but Primo’s sound defined a whole era, a whole coast. Greatest of all time that’s my word.

    # 2. I’m disappointed his work wit Kanye wasn’t on the album . I was looking forward to that shit.

    # 3. I always thought it was ironic how Primo is from Texas and Guru is from Boston, yet Gang Starr epitomizes the whole New York sound of the mid 90′s.

    # 4. Crazy had Primo pretty much outright admitted Grouphome was wack lyrically, but that it was widely considered his best work ( the Livin Proof album).

    # 5. I remember when Chuck D was swoll about that Biggie sample. Crazy how Primo went off on dude at a 711 lol.

    #6. For someone wit only a few albums, Jeru the Damaja had beef wit a lot of niggaz. Dude threw darts at the Fugees, Threw subliminals at Puff and Biggie and hinted that he thought Death Row and Foxy weren’t “real hip hop” Must have been crazy for Primo to produce Kick in the Door knowing Big was throwing shots at Jeru (Not to mention Nas, Ghost and Rae). Respect to Primo for having Jeru’s back even when around Biggie and Puff.

    #7 Crazy how dude didn’t hesitate about the question Who’s the best MC Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas? If anyone would know it would be Premier.

    # 8. Funny how far back some of Jay-z’s shady business dealings go.

    # 9. That album Premier vs Pete Rock got me souped! That will be some historical shit yall.

    # 10. Premier’s sound ain’t stagnant. I think dude is like Michael Jordan, he makes any nigga sound better over one of his soundscapes. RIP Guru. Gang Starr one of the best groups to ever do it, fuck going platinum, those niggaz are legends. Period.

    • Don mcCaine

      Q whaddup? you know I was aggy there were only 4 comments…

      #1 will be debated to the death (tho’ I agree). #3 is on point. heads are gonna overlook #8. #10? his sound ain’t stagnant, cats are fickle trend followers, no longer trend setters. So with that said…

      ‘Moment Of Truth’
      ‘Beyond Comprehension’
      ‘Come Clean’
      ‘Nas Is Like’
      ‘My Mind Spray’
      ‘Mental Stamina’
      ‘Da Realness’


    yo, this interview is one of the MOST f*** UP .
    Premo dropped a bunch rap secretzzz..s***

    interview review 10/10

  • Q461

    @ Don McCaine

    What up nigga? Yeah tere were zero comments when I first read this, but 4 by the time I finished my novel lol.

    In keeping with tradition:

    Krs one-outta here
    Jeru The Damaja- D Original
    Das Efx-Real Hip-Hop
    Fat Joe-The Shit is Real remix
    D an D All stars- 1, 2 pass it ( one of the best posse cuts of the 90s imo)
    Bahamadia-3 tha hard way
    MOP and G Rap-Stick to ya Gunz
    Rakim-Been a long time
    Gang Star-Mass Appeal
    Bun B-Let em know

    I can keep going lol… dudes got a million classics….

  • Sha

    You know what? I would love to read a whole book about behind the scenes convo with Preemo, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, and any other mega producer. I’ll bet they have hella stories. Preemo did XXL a solid. He could have made a book with this info. Just goes to show you how down to earth dude is. A true legend. Take notes young producers.

  • Don mcCaine

    Sha I see you ova here…name some songs homie…

    ‘Salute pt 2′
    ‘Robin Hood Theory’
    ‘Who Got Gunz’
    ’1st Of Tha Month (rmx)’
    ‘Next Level (rmx)’
    ‘Lady (rmx f/AZ)’
    ‘Ten Crack Commandments’
    ‘Rap Phenomenon’
    ‘Devils Pie’

  • Dick B.

    Premier’s the best, what else is there to say except why doesn’t he have XXL cover?

  • Q461

    @ Sha

    Co-sign dog. I think a Behind the scenes book on producers would be crazy to read… So many hidden stories niggaz don’t know about …

    @ Don

    Gang Starr- Royalty
    CNN-Grand Royal
    Rakim-New York ( Ya out there)
    Rakim-When I be on the mic
    AZ- the format
    Pitch Black-It’s all real
    Xzibit-what a mess
    Snoop Dogg-the one and only
    Royce da 5’9-Boom
    Common-6th sense
    Mos Def-mathematics
    Limp Bizkit and Meth N 2gether now
    Jay-Z- a million and one questions

    • Don mcCaine

      OK my niggg…I quit…I’ma put one in the air for ya…knickerbockers almost had them…’bout to 2 check blazers/mavs at the bar…

  • Q461

    lol Word we can be here all night with Primo’s hits…

    Yup My knicks showin some heart though…Amare’s a monster and if we get Melo it’s fuckin on for real….

  • abhishek denzil

    nice interview!

  • Don mcCaine

    word Q…

    if this post don’t reach plat status, on everything I’ma throw DARTS…there will be a 100 comments on BULLSH^T media PRESS RELEASES, BUT there will be few comments on HIP HOP MUSIC.

    Hip Hop music lover>>>>>>>>>>>>>mainstream rap fan

    p.s. them my Knicks 2 n^gga…shouts 2 my homie Black Just (Melo’s physical)…


  • ell

    this interview made my whole day man premo..some info whe would have never heard of the best interviews

  • scjoha

    Great anecdotes. Probably the best of all the recent Premo interviews. Thanks and respect to Premo and the XXLmag reporter for this interview. This is how hiphop history is to be covered!

  • SenghorChild

    This GOTTA be one of the BEST interview I ever read from anicon. In comparison the DRE interview which drops this month is weak…

  • sb

    one of the best interviews i’ve read on this site all year!!!!

  • EmCDL

    That was a dope interview, and I think thats the first one I’ve read from him…ever. Them albums he working on got me hyped…Nas and Preemo? Lets Goooooo!


  • Sha

    What up $yk!

    1. Baby Pa— I love the Dice skit. That beat is so sick! The way he brought in some Spanish Music on that shit. Preemo is the master of the Intros and Loops.

    2. B.Y.S.—– The way Preemo cut up that Slick Rick and Dougie.

    3. Invasion—- Don’t need to say anything about that one

    4. Rappaz R. N. Dainja ——Kris slayed that one

    5. Unbelievable—- Flippin R Kelly was some shit I never thought of. Definitely from another angle.

    6. New York (Ya out there)—– The way he sliced up New York was on some mind blowin stuff

    7. In Memory Of..—– Seems kinda prophetic with Guru’s passing

    8. 2nd Childhood—— Nas and Preem. Dope!

    9. Represent—— Another Nas joint

    10. New York Ryder Music —— He HAS made some new classics. Agallah killed that one.

  • Curtis75Black

    This is one hot interview. Straight thorough. Premo went thru a lot of shit. That background book would be hot. Funny how homie is surrounded in a studio taking up for Jeru !! What’s crazy is didn’t Nas say “Kick in the door” for him ?


    premo is a legend, a true king on this rap s***.Dude blessing us with affiliattions like I GAVE YOU POWER,NAS IS LIKE,KICK IN THE DOOR,UNBELIVABLE,MASS APPEAL,ABOVE THE CLOUDS,WHATEVA…

    nobody can t touch him,bro…. =_= ( good ***d ) !

  • Pingback: Saigon Says Jay-Z Took His Beats — Say What! |

  • Pingback: Waka Flocka’s Mom Denies Gang Affiliation — Say What! |

  • caino

    See XXL, you can pull off real hiphop if you interview the correct person! Dope interview, Preemo coming across as a straight up guy, with enough stories for that novel , like sha suggested! .

    The sun rises in the east – full album
    Memory LAne
    NY State of Mind

    like everyone else l could go on!

  • Pingback: The Agenda - Verities and Vagaries

  • oskamadison

    Dammit!!!!!! I was late as hell seeing this joint. It looks like y’all covered evrything there is to say about Preme. Most of y’all even share some of my top 5 favorite Preme joints (Gang Starr’s Speak Ya Clout, Unbelievable, Kick In The Door, Royce Da 5’9′s Boom and Rakim’s New York.) Peace to all the TRUE heads that really know and can comment on the MUSIC, not just all the b.s. As always, $yk, what’s up!!!! Q, I see you too. 75 Black, ain’t seen you in a minute, what’s up?

  • TUMI