Monday, June 23, 2008

DJ Premier's Latest Hits

Why oh why do people younger than I sleep on DJ Premier?

This guy is a standard-setter, and has been ever since he came on the scene in 1989 with his incredible scratching ability.

It wasn't until a couple of years later that he refined his sound while also redefining what is now that classic New York City Hiphop sound -- boom bap Hiphop music.

Now he has a sound that is both instantly recognizable and while impossible to duplicate.

And after what seemed like a couple of years off from rap to get that money from Christina Aguilera, it seems that Premo is back in a major way in 2008.

In no specific order, here are my favorite DJ Premier-produced joints of 2008 -- thus far:

1) Real N*gga Quote - Rhymefest: Equally as much a political statement as it is an examination of the N word, Premo outdoes himself on this beat with his vintage sound. It's really kind of a throwback when you consider the addition of Malcolm X vocals over the last part of the track. Quotable:

"That's why I say f*ck 'em all
Hillary, Jesse Jack even Brarck is involved
When police beatin' that ass
None of y'all will do a damn thang.
But you can raise $100 million for a campaign?
Homey, ya better explain!
I'm in cell with a n*gga that look like Ving Rhames!"
2) On the Rise Again Feat. Haylie Duff - Kool G Rap: No doubt this is an unexpected collaboration, but it works. Classic Premier drums, a sick strings loop, minimal bassline, and ridiculous scratching on the hook with Duff's vocals as the perfect complement. G Rap is still living the fast life, and he kills it with top notch crack raps. Quotable:

"My main alliance was cocaine giants
N*ggas had more material than Lane Bryant's
Had the block flooded with customers and clients
They had the metric system down to a science.
Up and down the strip in the gulliest whips"
3) Criminal Minded 08 -- KRS-One: Starting off with Premier verbally dedicating the track to Scott LaRock followed by the Blast Master singing in the same cadence from the original version of the song, before the first drum hits you already can feel that this one is special. We haven't had a KRS-Premo collabo in years, so I'm glad they didn't half step when recording this. You already knew Premo would hold up his end of the bargain but I wasn't sure if Kris would come with that boom bap rap or that holier than thou mumbo jumbo that alienated much of his original fanbase. Over a crisp, sinister Premier beat, KRS doesn't disappoint, aiming his hatred at the everlasting sucker emcee. Quotable:

"Yo Premier, why these rappers so soft?
Their corny ass raps be making me doze off!
When I spit lyrics, I step farther/step-father, like ya other dad."
4) Just (remix) -- Mark Ronson Feat. Alex Greenwald & Blaq Poet -- I know I sound like a broken record, but this is Premier at his best! A remix of a Radiohead song, and also a remix in the true sense of the term, Premier uses the original song's horns and vocals and adds his boy Blaq Poet (from Queens rap group Screwball) for a ridiculous 16 bars about a guy debating on taking his life. Quotable:

"You can't take it, take a razor and erase it.
On the 15th floor lookin' at the pavement.
Just do it, don't think, go 'head, fly
Might do it on the first try, just die.
Just forget it, you ain't been sh*it your whole life.
Do the world a favor, do it to yourself twice.
Get some pills, a gun, or a sharp knife.
Goddamn, you can't even do this right.
Too much stress, too much pressure.
F*ck the world, the note's on the dresser.
Smack my boss, and kiss the kids.
Let my wife know that she's a cheatin' ass b*tch.
And just take that leap
And hope you make real big mess in the street
As the world goes on not missing a beat
Don't do it to yourself, don't listen to me!"
Here are the rest of my favorite 2008 Premier joints:

Big Shug - Like a Muhf*ckah: Premier experiments with a new, slower style while still maintaining that sound we all know and love him for. Of course, his scratching is ever present on the hook. Shug isn't the best emcee but he puts together a somewhat conceptual song regarding the emphatic street colloquialism, "like a muhf*ckah".

Little Vic - The Exorcist: I know nothing about this rapper except he's decent on this basic Premier beat. But there's something about dude's flow (his lyrics are not spectacular) over this easy-going, bouncy beat. And when you hear Premier cut up a line from an old Lords of the Underground song, you're hooked. This song gets better and better every time I hear it.

Reks - Say Goodbye
: This Boston emcee has been doing his thing on the low for the past few years, snagging features with much better rappers and producers than he deserves to be with. And this song is no exception. But as always, Premier brings out the best in his collaborators. And Reks follows suit with bar after bar, steady spitting, going in and out and over and under the beat, owning it. The haunting vocal sample over Premo's drums is the final deal maker.

Ya Dayz R #'D (Remix Feat. Lady of Rage, Freddie FoXXX & Royce Da 5'9): The original was great, but Preem remixes this song something vicious, and then adds real rappers Freddie FoXXX & Royce -- who steals the show with lines like "I let the record do the talking for me like a Preem hook" -- along with Lady of Rage, who always seems to pop up out of nowhere and make a random appearance every few years, like this one. She has good timing to jump on this one.

That White - Fat Joe: I get sad when I think about the direction Fat Joe's career has gone in, knowing he will never make another Jealous Ones Envy, or even another Don Cartagena for that matter. But every now and then he returns to his DITC roots and gives the streets a good, solid banger. Pause. Hot classic Premo as usual, this time with Fat Joe ignorantly praising the Almighty for the existence of cocaine.

My Thoughts - Freddie FoXXX: I'm actually guessing that this is from 2008, but that's when I first got wind of this magnificent beat with cinematic strings and a simple piano. Premier's drums are softer than usual, but very appropriate for this track. And FoXXX talks his usual sh*t, just letting us in on the many tings that go through his head at any given time.

BONUS: Jadakiss - From then Till Now (DJ Premier Scratches) (Produced by The Alchemist

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