DJ Premier Reflects on Prince, Hip-Hop, and Why He'll Never Stop DJing

The world recently lost an icon, and while millions of music fans grieved in their own way, one man is sure he was the biggest fan of them all. That would be DJ Premier.

“I understood where he was coming from,” the legendary hip-hop DJ and producer says. “My mom looked at me like I was a little weird. She was like, 'Why are you into this guy?' But I made my mom a believer. She's 87 years old now, and I took her to the Musicology concert, and she loved it.”

Premier was born in Houston but soon moved to Brooklyn where he'd spend most of his life and formative years. It was here that he got his education through music, learning the ins and outs of life from the sound produced by scratchy needles.

His mom took him to see all the greats, from James Brown to Chaka Khan, Ike and Tina Turner. When he got older, he started digging through the crates at his favorite record store, Infinite Records. The vinyl he found there would become his musical foundation, exposing him to rhythms and tempos, styles and attitudes. He funneled all this knowledge into hip-hop culture and found his home behind the turntables.

“I always have to know how I'm going to start a set, and after that, I think freestlying it is way better,” he says. “The vibe just kicks in, and you just know how to go from this to that, and you just go. I think it's like playing speed chess over regular chess. If you play it with the clock, there's that pressure to hurry up. I like pressure.”

Resale Concert Tickets

Powered By
powered by Seats For Everyone SEE MORE

  • Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 / 7:30pm @ Amaturo Theater at Broward Ctr For The Perf Arts 201 Sw 5th Avenue Fort Lauderdale FL 33312
    201 Sw 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale FL 33312

  • Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 / 7:30pm @ AmericanAirlines Arena 601 Biscayne Blvd Miami FL 33132
    601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami FL 33132

  • Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 / 7:30pm @ King Center For The Performing Arts 3865 N Wickham Road Melbourne FL 32935
    3865 N Wickham Road, Melbourne FL 32935

Premier is, to say the least, well-respected as a producer, and he broke into the national consciousness as the musical backbone of NYC rap duo Gang Starr. He's also the producer behind some of the genre's most celebrated names, like Nas, Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., Rakim, and more. But he's not afraid to move outside his rap comfort zone, working with genre-benders like Limp Bizkit and even pop princess Christina Aguilera. Still, DJing remains his true love.

It's a talent that has taken the young man a very long way from Brooklyn. His skills on the deck send him to far off lands. He's played for crowds in Vietnam and Africa. It even earned him a private audience with Nelson Mandela, a moment he can never forget.

“It's an overwhelming feeling,” he says. “It's almost like the records take over your whole body. Something about hitting the stage, when you see all the people there already cheering that you're about to go on, you're just so ready. It's a nervous feeling, but it's more of an anxiety. I'm not nervous where I'm scared at all — I'm just like, hurry up and get me to the stage.”

DJ Premier. 10 p.m. Friday, April 29, at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com. Tickets cost $25 to $60 via showclix.com

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >