DJ Premier & Prince Paul Discuss Hip-Hop’s Generation Gap & Why We All Need Perspective (Video)
DJ Premier and Prince Paul are two legendary producers in Hip-Hop (and beyond) with discographies that span back to the 1980s. Back then, Preemo joined Guru to launch the album-making years of Gang Starr. In the very same 1989 that No More Mr. Nice Guy released, Paul celebrated strong accolades while at the helm of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, in addition to his producer/DJ post in group, Stetsasonic.
This afternoon (October 26), the two New York-based Grammy Award winners (who each worked on J-Live’s debut The Best Part) held an intimate conversation in SoHo’s Sonos Store as part of the Talkhouse Podcast series. The videos released in two parts as part of a live video discussion:
“It’s an honor to be here with this man; I’ve known him forever. Can I say one thing that’s really cool about DJ Premier (and there’s a bunch of things)? He’s always been the same dude from the first time I met him til’ now,” Prince Paul said. “No matter where the success has gone, he’s always been mad cool. You rarely find that type of character in the music industry, especially Hip-Hop.”
DJ Premier returned the compliment. “The same for you, man. The funny thing about me and [Prince] Paul is we’ll see each other [in] 10 year gaps. For some reason, when we finally see each other, it’s almost like, ‘We gotta get on the phone [more often].’ Your number will [never change] as [is] mine; the Blackberry’s still the same.” Preemo added, “Anytime I’ve ever called you, you always start the conversation like we’ve already been talking.”
It has been a busy year for both artists. Prince Paul joined Ladybug Mecca (Digable Planets), Don Newkirk, and Gorilla Urbano in releasing Throwback To The Future as BROOKZILL. Premier has released music with Bumpy Knuckles, Yuna, D.I.T.C., and his newest artist Torii Wolf.
In the first video, the two men spoke about the growing generation gap in Hip-Hop, and why it may not be as some portray it.
DJ Premier began speaking about Philadelphia sensation Lil Uzi Vert. Paul chimed in, “My son actually DJ’s for him,” which Preemo said he did not know. The PRhyme co-founder profiled an exchange he had with the 22 year old Atlantic Records star. “Everybody was like, ‘He needs to be smacked [etc.],’ because he wouldn’t freestyle to [Gang Starr’s] ‘Mass Appeal’ [instrumental] when Ebro put the beat on.” Preemo disagreed with the angry critics on social media. “First of all, ‘Mass Appeal’s’ not really a beat you throw on to freestyle to. Back when [Jeru The Damaja’s] ‘Come Clean’ was out, people would be like, ‘Yo, throw on the “Come Clean” beat’ or certain [other] beats you just put on for somebody to spit to if you’re gonna put somebody live on the radio. ‘Mass Appeal’ is not one I’d choose either; that’s just a dope record that we did out of our Gang Starr catalog. That’s one of our biggest hits, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you rhyme to. [Lil Uzi Vert] said, ‘I don’t want to rhyme to that.’ People said that’s disrespectful. [I believe that Lil Uzi Vert] doesn’t have to rap to anything that I do. He can make whatever decision he wants, that’s fine with me. I’m not upset about that.” Premier recalled telling his Twitter followers not to take offense to the artist passing on the beat. That is when Uzi hit the Gang Starr hit-maker. “He responded [online] to me and said, ‘Hey O.G., I don’t know why everybody’s taking this out of context. If it would have been [Gang Starr’s] “Full Clip” instrumental, I would’ve rapped to it.’ I was like, wow.” Preemo expressed shock that the same artist accused of ignorance knew the Gang Starr catalog. “We had a conversation, it was healthy. On top of that, he’s willing to learn.” Preemo continued that he also supports younger artists including Joey Bada$$ and Travi$ Scott, regardless of whether he works with them or not.
Paul added his take. “My son’s—he’ll be 25 this year. I have a daughter; she’ll be 14. I’m like, I’m old but I’m not that old. I think our generation is still in the pocket; we know technology [and] what’s going on. We’re aware of stuff.” The Long Island, New Yorker stressed that Hip-Hop’s elders pay attention. “I think it’s important for us, as producers, to kind of be aware too. Like you said earlier, [we need to] at least understand [what the youth are doing].” DJ Premier agreed to this point. Paul continued, “You don’t have to like it, but I want to least understand it.” He added, “I don’t want to shut them out and act like we can’t even listen to that style. But I also feel like they need to respect [the forefathers]. A lot of stuff is just a newer manipulation of what we were doing.” Even the popular sound of right now stems back. Paul pointed to one of his earliest contributions on wax. “Stetsasonic’s On Fire—do your research; take a listen to the hi-hats and the 808 [drums]. I did it in ’86!—30 years ago.”
In the second part of the video, Prince Paul and DJ Premier laugh about how Instagram posts can reach further than music. Paul gets Preemo to break down how he handles concert hecklers. The two artists discuss Prince’s catalog, and some of the Rock & Roll acts—including Devo, The Smiths, and AC/DC that Preem’ is deeply connected to. As Paul promoted his just-released LP, Preemo confirmed some upcoming work.
“I have four projects coming out,” began Preemo. “There’s a new artist from Long Island named Torii Wolf.” Including a Dilated Peoples remix, Premier has released a number of tracks with the singer. “I produced the whole album, along with King Of Chill, who’s a legendary producer in Hip-Hop.” As hinted at earlier this month, the producer and a longtime affiliate are completing a project nearly five years in the making. “Me and MC Eiht from Compton’s Most Wanted just did a project called Which Way Iz West? I executive produced that along with Eiht; I produced three songs on that.” Specific to the status, Preemo said, “I just mixed the album, scratched on every song. [Bumpy Knuckles] is on it [as well as The Lady Of Rage], Kurupt, Xzibit, WC, Big Mike from the Geto Boys; it’s really a dope album.” His Year Round Records imprint will also release a new LP by duo NYGz. That longtime Gang Starr Foundation act is founded by Panchi and Shabeeno. “Also, me and Royce 5’9” started the PRhyme 2 album; we’re pretty much almost done with that. Like Prince Paul said, the consistency is part of my addiction and love to doin’ music. It’s fun being in the studio.” The producer also confirmed that he recently followed up 2000’s “Recognize” with a new DJ Premier-laced L.O.X. track.