This was must have been an experience all its own, to say the least. My man Jaeki/Complex put hours in with DJ Premier to bring you a complete breakdown of all his classic records, straight from the hoarse’s mouth.
Gang Starr f/ Nice & Smooth “DWYCK” (1992)
DJ Premier: “It was just a fun record. It was a B-side joint. We did ‘Down the Line’ on the Nice & Smooth album, so we were like, ‘Ya’ll do one with us.’ So we just made a B-side and it was ‘DWYCK.’ WC was here when we cut that record. He was up in New York hanging with me. Don Barron from Masters of Ceremony was also here. Everybody cut their vocals, and Smooth came the second day. He laid his, and we put it out there, and all of a sudden it was a summertime smash. After that we were doing shows everywhere thanks to ‘DWYCK.’ It was a very high point in my life.
“It was supposed to be on Daily Operation, but the label wasn’t rolling with it. They just wanted to leave it the way it was. The buzz, however, was so big, we re-mastered it and tacked it onto the album, but then [the label] just didn’t do the re-pressings. I think we would’ve gone, maybe even platinum. ‘DYWCK’ was that big. We were upset, so we said, ‘Let’s at least put it somewhere down the line because even if they don’t want anything on the album, if they want ‘DWYCK’ on it, they’ll cop’em.’ So that’s why we put that on Hard to Earn.”
Nas “N.Y. State of Mind” (1994) after the jump…
Nas “N.Y. State of Mind” (1994)
DJ Premier: “That was just amazing because it happened in this room. Actually, anything from ‘92 and on, we did it here. It was just amazing watching him work because I was already a fan of him when he did ‘Back to the Grill,’ ‘Halftime,’ ‘It Ain’t Hard to Tell,’ and ‘Live at the Barbeque.’ So when I heard him on those records I was like, ‘Yo, I got to do something that’s on the same level.’ So I came in here, and flipped the ill, gutter, Joe Chambers sample (‘Mind Rain’). I can tell you because it’s cleared. [Laughs.] Nas watched me build the beat from scratch. And he wrote the verse in the studio. If you listen to ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ you’ll hear him going, ‘I don’t know how to start this shit,’ because he literally just wrote it. Before he started the verse, I was signaling him going, ‘One, two, three,’ and he just goes in like, ‘Rappers I monkey flip’em, in the funky rhythm.” He did that in one take. After he did that first verse, he goes, ‘How was that? Did that sound all right?’ And we were just like, ‘Oh, my God! The streets are going to go crazy when they hear this!’
“It was one take, but he would format it before. He’ll sit at the front, cover his mouth when the beat’s playing, and would mumble it. So we can’t hear what he’s saying. He was real quiet, but he would bring his whole army. Rest in peace to Drawz, by the way. He just died not too long ago. I remember [Nas] bringing Slate, Wallet Head, basically, all the people he was shouting out. They would be like, ‘Can we go in [the booth] too?’ They just wanted to feel it, you know? It was just funny to watch them all in the booth doing ‘Represent,’ and yelling in the background.”
read the full story at COMPLEX