Do Remember: Haze Presents…NY Reality Check 101 (Mixed By DJ Premier)
This week, it was announced that 2015 will see the release of DJ Premier’s first solo album, Last Session @320. The album and its title are an homage to the closing of HeadQCourterz Studios (f/k/a D&D Studios), which had been Premier’s professional home for nearly 25 years.
As fans eagerly await further information surrounding the guests, themes, and more of the Year Round Records release, it seemed appropriate to remember the first time Premo’s name guided an album to shelves.
The year was 1997. Gang Starr had already released four touted albums, with Premier and Guru hard at work on what many would consider their magnum opus, 1998’s Moment Of Truth. Through Gang Starr’s production company, and Guru’s Ill Kid Records, the team had released two albums from Jeru The Damaja, as well as a seminal debut from Group Home—all three produced by Premier. After a tenured stay together in the Bronx, the artists were now largely entrenched in Brooklyn, enjoying life and work with individuals that included Jeru, Lil Dap, Malachi The Nutcracker, O.C., Lil’ Cease, The Notorious B.I.G., and others.
While he was extensively producing for the likes of Biggie, Nas, Jay Z, Heavy D, and KRS-One, Payday/London Records approached Premier for an authorized mixtape. Presented and hosted by New York City graffiti icon Haze, the project would serve as a large introduction to the talent from the five boroughs. Haze, who would go on to co-host the LP with Premier, had famously designed some enduring Hip-Hop logos, including Delicious Vinyl Records, EPMD, and Public Enemy—along with the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head graphic artwork.
For the mix, Premier recruited tracks from some artists who he would later work with, including D.I.T.C.’s O.C., G-Dep, and J-Live. Notably also on the cut were a pre-Funcrusher Plus Company Flow, a solo Godfather Don (of Kool Keith/Ultramagnetic MC’s fame), and a pre-Priority Records Choclair. Pharoahe Monch and Edo. G would also be featured. Whether the vinyl or the CD version, the 20 or 18 tracks, this is forecasting from one of Hip-Hop’s most treasured ears—and masters of the mix.
As Premo gears into this 2015 release, roll it back to 1997, and pay respects to a commercial mixtape that had Heads clamoring to the in-the-know record stores.