Without a doubt, DJ Premier sits near the top of the greatest Hip-Hop producers and beatmakers of all time. Gaining fame as the chief soundman behind the legendary Gang Starr crew with late frontman Keith “Guru” Elam, they remain one of the most potent Hip-Hop duos of all time. We take a look back to salute DJ Premier on his born day, and listed out 20 of our favorite Preem joints.
Premier, born Christopher Edward Martin, was born in Houston, Texas and raised in the town of Prarie View. The son of educators and the grandson of a jazz musician, Premier discovered a love of Hip-Hop in the late ’70’s although his musical palette was wide due to the influence of older siblings and his parents. In the mid-eighties, Preem dropped out of Prarie View A&M University where he began as a party DJ and moved to Brooklyn, New York. It was there the former Waxmaster C was discovered by Wild Pitch boss Stu Fine, who then connected him with Guru, a rapper that hailed from Boston and the rest is history as they say.
Between 1989 and 2003, DJ Premier and Guru together as Gang Starr enrichened the Hip-Hop landscape with Preem crafting a signature, boom-bap style that has been often imitated over the decades. Along with his precision scratching ability, hard drums, and jazzy sample chops, Hip-Hop fans from around the world came to regard the Texas by way of Brooklyn producer as one of the vanguards in the rise of traditional East Coast Hip-Hop.
This would lead to a bevy of production credits that date back to the nineties with the likes of Lord Finesse, Ice-T, Heavy D, KRS-One, and Mobb Deep among others benefiting from his sound. He also lent his hand to Nas on the Queens veteran’s debut album Illmatic and produced Jeru Da Damaja’s The Sun Rises In The East while also giving Group Home a boost on Livin’ Proof. Preem’s tracks also graced Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt and gave weight to some of the strongest cuts from The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous Life After Death double album.
Rakim, Janet Jackson, O.C., D’Angelo, M.O.P., Fat Joe, Brand Nubian, Rah Digga, J-Live and even Limp Bizkit all released work over Premier’s handiwork. Newer artist such as Joey BadA$$, Skyzoo, Torae, Rapsody, Termanology and many more are still getting Preemo bangers. And with his group Prhyme with Detroit wordsmith Royce Da 5’9, now on their second project, it’s clear that DJ Premier still has plenty left in the tank.
Hit the following pages to check out 20 of our favorite all-time DJ Premier classics. Look, we’re surely going to miss some gems so sound off in the comments section and let us know what deserves mention. Who knows, we might just add it.
Salute to the great DJ P-P-P-P-Premier!