DJ Premier at the Klinik @ Sound Emporium (360 Adelaide West), Saturday (February 21). $15. www.ramosent.com Rating: NNNNN
There's no question that DJ Premier is among the most respected producers in hiphop. His work with Gang Starr helped define the stylishly raw and funky Brooklyn sound. When you consider the long list of era-defining records on his resume by the likes of Jay-Z, KRS-One, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Mos Def, Group Home and Jeru the Damaja, as well as remixes that are consistently better than the original tracks, it's understandable why Premier's formidable turntable skills are sometimes overlooked. But he's still known as DJ Premier for good reason, and that becomes clear whenever he gets behind the wheels of steel and starts scratching up a storm.
"I'm a DJ first and always will be," insists Premier over a cellphone in a Brooklyn parking lot. "I'm an artist second and a producer third - in that order."
He'll get a chance to demonstrate everything he can do on his long overdue solo debut, tentatively titled Man Of Few Words, which is planned for release later this year on the Terror Squad subsidiary of Atlantic.
"There'll be some singers and rappers on it, and the sound will be sculptured in a way that's similar to what I've been doing over the past few years.
"I'd like to say who's going to be on it, but we're keeping that under wraps until everything is locked down. The collaborations are so unique that the album's going to change the whole game."
Although Premier has been known to rant about the music biz on Gang Starr records, don't expect to hear him rhyming on his solo joint.
"I'll pass on that. I mean, if a producer has a dope flow, then I'll give it up to them. But if you sound wack, you should stick to what you're good at. Just like those basketball players - they shouldn't be rhyming just because they're large. Hey, I love basketball, but you don't see me on the court trying to play with the professionals."
Currently finishing up a couple of new singles with Black Poet and the NYG'z for his own Year Round label, Premier is looking forward to getting out of the studio to spin for a night in Toronto.
"I like to play the classics, you know, from Public Enemy and EPMD, old Michael Jackson and Al Green. It's all good. I'll also probably drop some 50 Cent, but instead of In Da Club I might go for something a little older, like How To Rob."
Some club DJs are leery about playing that controversial track for fear of embarrassing any one of the popular rappers hilariously name-checked by 50 Cent. Not Premier.
"I play that song proudly," he roars. "Hell yeah!
"I've heard stories about whole crews coming up to the DJ booth and saying, -Yo, turn that shit off!' You can do that to some punk-ass DJ, but don't try that on me. If you don't like a record, then you've got a problem with the person who made it. Don't get on my case for playing it."