DJ Premier on His Hip-Hop Relevancy: "I Refuse to Be One of Those Old Someones"

“Everything I do is in a New York state of mind.”

From his very first session with the late Guru to his work alongside Royce da 5'9" as one-half of PRhyme, DJ Premier’s production has always defined New York hip-hop. Now well into the third decade of his career, Preemo is still as active as ever, maintaining his status as a household name.

During an interview with Vulture’s Dave Tompkins, Preemo explained New York City’s role in his sustaining his relevance.

“Your relevance is the people who supported you from the get-go,” Premier said. “Everything I do is in a New York state of mind. I’m indebted to preserving the sound of the city. A lot of parts of me is based off my passion for this city. We not all gonna make it. Like JAY-Z said, I refuse to be one of those old someones.’”

In an effort to not become an “old someone,” Premier has turned his attention towards working with and supporting up-and-coming talent. He produced the majority of singer-songwriter Torii Wolf’s debut album, Flow Riiot, which was released in September. Though he told DJBooth that he appreciates Wolf’s ability “to attach her style to a gritty and dirty production,” Premier also allowed Wolf to push him outside the realm of boom bap. As a result, every song on the record is as much an eclectic bonanza as it is a piece of Preemo’s New York musical roots.

More traditionally, Premier recently produced “Our Streets” featuring Harlem’s A$AP Ferg. Premier was in his pocket on the single, driven by dusty drum loops and scratching. Ultimately, it’s the producer's ability and willingness to have one foot in the past and one in the present, along with his desire to push those forces together, that has allowed him to have a career almost as long as the lifespan of the genre.

Let DJ Premier be a reminder that there is no expiration date in hip-hop as long as you put the work in and adapt accordingly.   



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