The End Of An Era For Hardcore Hip-Hop…DJ Premier’s Studio Closes Its Doors Today
Nas’ Illmatic recorded there. The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die recorded there. Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt recorded there. And nearly every song by Gang Starr, in addition to every track produced by DJ Premier since 1992 was recorded there. Today, on January 7, 2015, Premo announced that D&D Studios a/k/a HeadQCourterz Studios will close its doors forever.
To Hip-Hop Heads and lovers of music however, the industrial Midtown Manhattan mainstay will live on in the hearts and ears of many, on albums by Big Pun, Big L, Black Moon, Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, M.O.P., Bumpy Knuckles, Tony Touch, Jay, Nas, Biggie Smalls, Lord Finesse, Craig G, Dilated Peoples, Fat Joe, Das EFX, Showbiz & A.G., Cormega, Ludacris, Bun B, Edo G, Diamond D, O.C., Afu-Ra, Big Daddy Kane, Smif-n-Wessun, Just-Ice, Snoop Dogg, Doug E. Fresh, Slaughterhouse, KRS-One, Heltah Skeltah, Da Beatminerz, The Lady Of Rage, Heather B, O.G.C., Bahamadia, NYGz, Mad Lion, Teflon, Channel Live, Big Shug, Krumbsnatcha, and so forth.
Sadly, the studio—which Premier has been physically removing for more than a week from the 37th Street building in the Garment District, is giving way to become luxury apartments. Premier, in one of his many IG posts, wrote, “#RichClownsRuinManhattan.” The change in location marks a change in New York City, and possibly as it relates to Hip-Hop.
Around 1992, Showbiz brought DJ Premier to the studio, alongside famed engineer Eddie Sancho to scratch on a remix to Lord Finesse’s “Return Of The Funky Man.” Prior to its Hip-Hop days, the studio had been used by artists ranging from Madonna to Dee-Lite, with finished albums and singles pinned around a lounge with pool-table (heard on many albums, including Reasonable Doubt). After the D.I.T.C. remix, Premier would stay, and bring Guru, recording Gang Starr’s Daily Operation and all subsequent albums in the smoky, crowded rooms that served as a Rap industry meeting-place. A decade later, following the death of Gang Starr affiliate HeadQCourterz, DJ Premier purchased the studio from founding partners Douglas Grama and David Lotwin, renaming it. While the vending machine selling Philly Blunt cigars, and the billiards would leave, Premier kept the famed couches, wood paneling, and many of the framed placards for albums recorded there. With Showbiz reportedly owning one of the rooms, Premo maintained the other—making his albums with Blaq Poet, NYGz, Year Round Records, and others there. Additionally, Slaughterhouse’s eOne debut would be recorded and mixed there.
With Premier now said to be headed to Queens’ Kaufman Astoria Studios, more hits are on the way, and HeadQCourterz moves with him. Salute to D&D, HeadQCourterz, Gang Starr, and the legends—living and beyond who made this Hip-Hop landmark so legendary…