DJ Premier and Casanova Celebrate Payday Records With New Song “Wut U Said?”
When classic and contemporary collide, the results can be impressive. Thanks to the relaunch of the early 1990s hip-hop label Payday Records—once recording home to the likes of Gang Starr, Mos Def and Jay-Z—two different eras of the genre are joining forces in celebration of iconic brand's revival.
In the past few months, producer DJ Premier has been releasing one-off collaborations with young rappers under the Payday imprint. In November, he and A$AP Ferg unveiled their song "Our Streets," and now, Preemo has recruited Brooklyn's own Casanova for "Wut U Said?" a boom-bap track that finds a vengeful Cas claiming everything that he's owed.
"When 'Don't Run' came out, I was already a fan," DJ Premier tells XXL on Wednesday (July 18), from the Queens set of the "Wut U Said?" video. "I saw the impact that [Casanova] had. I was like, 'How do I not know this record?' I started doing my homework, and next thing ya know, 'Set Trippin' dropped. He's consistent and the streets like him—It's about gaining the street notoriety first."
"I'm like, 'Why you wanna work with me?'" Casanova says with a laugh. Premier produced some of Cas' favorite Biggie records like "Unbelievable" and "Kick in the Door," so it was surely surreal to watch him make the beat for "Wut U Said?" from scratch. According to Casanova, Premier compared him to hall-of-fame street rappers like 50 Cent, DMX and raucous BK duo M.O.P. "He a legend, you don't get them opportunities a lot... I looked at it like a blessing."
"Wut U Said?" is the second release of a four-track deal between DJ Premier and Payday Records. The legendary producer and label have history. Payday Records' top dog Patrick Moxey managed DJ Premier from the start of his career in 1988, long before he had a label of his own. Once he started Payday in 1992, Moxey agreed to sign acts like Jeru The Damaja, Group Home and Urban Thermo Dynamics—which included a young MC who called himself Mos Def—if Premier would produce for them (he did).
Moxey left hip-hop once Gang Starr went on hiatus in 2003. When he returned with a revived Payday, he went right back to Premier. The aforementioned "Our Streets" kicked things off, and "Wut U Said?" looks to keep the momentum going. The song's as-yet-unreleased music video is helmed Danny Hastings, a living legend who has photographed album covers for classic albums like Gang Starr's Hard to Earn and Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). He appreciates the meshing of classic and contemporary, and reflects that in the song's visual.
"From an outsider, there's so many similar elements I see in the young kids that I saw in the younger artists that I shot 20 years ago," Hastings tells XXL. "Let's bring A$AP Rocky, all the new cats. I love Joey Bada$$ from Brooklyn—he sounds like the Boot Camp Clik. I love Tekashi69. All these young cats, you put 'em with Primo beats, Rockwilder beats, shit is gonna make sense."
While Premier is tight-lipped about the next artist he plans on working with via Payday, it's likely to follow an approach that's worked for three decades. "You can get radio all day, but the streets is where it's at," he says. "I stick to that formula to this very day."
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