DJ Premier Says It’s Still Possible He Will Release The Final Gang Starr Album (Video)
In one of the busiest seasons in his career, DJ Premier appeared before a studio audience to discuss more than 30 years of music. Earlier this month, the member of Gang Starr, PRhyme, and The Badder Band sat with Genius‘ Rob Markman (and Letty Martinez) to discuss his truly marvelous career.
One highlight came just before the 13:00 mark. During a section of the discussion dedicated to Gang Starr, Preemo reveals Guru’s writing prowess. While the late MC may be one of Hip-Hop’s great A&Rs (having a hand in signing Lord Finesse, Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, and many Wild Pitch Records acts), the smoky-voiced MC was also crafty with his flows. DJ Premier confirms that one of Gang Starr’s most beloved early singles was influenced by real-life events. While Tupac, JAY-Z, and Biggie have been praised for authentic storytelling, Guru was doing it as early as 1991.
Of “Just To Get A Rep,” Preemo begins, “That was a crazy moment, that record right there. That’s a true story. That happened to Guru, and he said, ‘I want to write a song about it.’ What happened was…that was the day we both got our brand new cars, when we got our major label deal [with Chrysalis/EMI Records], and we bought our cars.” After 1989’s No More Mr. Nice Guy at Wild Pitch, the Jazz-Rap duo moved forth and got the paydays that eluded them at a small family-owned imprint. Premier continues, “He went riding around, in some of the wrong spots, at the wrong time. He went back to that spot late at night, by himself. He was with people [the first time], so he was good. [We advised him not to go back there alone because some people might still be there]. They were still out there; one of ’em stuck him for the car [creates a gun motion] and took it.” Preemo does not state where in the city the car-jacking took place.
Recreating the action, Premier describes his partner in the New York City streets that date circa 1990-1991. “Guru [acted the same] way they say Tupac was [after his 1994 Quad Studios shooting]. He started rollin’ a blunt and said, ‘This is f*cked up.’ Guru starts rollin’ a blunt on the corner while we’re on our way to make sure he’s good, and find out who did it. [Laughs] He’s just sittin’ there yellin’ at the other guys [on the street] going, ‘You know this ain’t right! This ain’t cool! Things come back to people who do bad things to you.’ He’s saying that to them [and they did not take him seriously].”
The Gang Starr Foundation collected Guru and moved on. “So fast forward to maybe a week or two weeks later, we see the guy in [Guru’s] car, and we start chasing after him [in our car]. Cops come out and start chasing us. We’re like, ‘That’s our car; they stole it!’ ’cause they’re trying to pull us over ’cause they’re seeing a high-speed car chase. We’re [still going]: the cops, us, dude. Dude turns the wrong way, hits an ice cream truck, and dies right on the spot. Yeah…and we did the record the next day. And that’s why we did the [music] video [as we did].”
The music video depicts much of the real life account:
Around 19:00, Genius’ Letty Martinez asks a fan submitted question, surrounding some reports a few years back of another Gang Starr release of unheard material. Premier answers, “There’s a lot of factors that go with that…when it’s the right time, it’s the right time. With him passing, you gotta deal with the estate, gotta deal with the family…there’s just a whole bunch of things that are involved. But I will say, big up to his family, man, because we’ve been riding together since [he was] on his last days all the way ’til now. We’re a tight-knit family still. Shout to all of them: his sisters, his brother, his mom just passed (rest in peace to her), his father just passed four years prior to that. It’s just little steps have to be taken. Don’t count it out, it just takes a little time to get it all organized.” Rob Markman calls it a possibility. Preemo responds, “Possibility, yes.”
The acclaimed producer/DJ adds that he is partners with Guru’s 17-year-old son K.C. Premier and K.C. split merchandise revenues and all Gang Starr royalties 50/50. Guru died from cancer in 2010.
Following Gang Starr’s last album, The Ownerz in 2003, Guru appeared on Big Shug’s “Counterpunch,” which was Premier-produced. The longtime Gang Starr Foundation member and Guru reportedly recorded the song well ahead of its 2005 release.
Elsewhere in the discussion, the formation of PRhyme is discussed (40:00), Nas recording “NY State Of Mind” in one take (2:00), and his three favorite productions (the opening).