After co-producing one of the top pop albums of the year, Christina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics,” DJ Premier is back in the studio honing projects by Nas, Amerie and Canibus, and close to securing production work on Whitney Houston’s upcoming comeback disc.
Premier says he is most looking forward to working with Houston, who reunited with Arista/J head Clive Davis recently to start planning her first new studio album in four years. “I’m not gonna jinx it but there [have] been talks and I’ve met with the right people so if that goes down I’d love to give her a big record,” Premier tells Billboard.com. “I know what she needs. I’m not gonna give her a record about rolling on dubs and all that just because that’s what’s current. That’s beneath her. She can go left field as long as the record’s banging and she sings it well.”
In recent years, Houston has battled drug addiction and last month filed for divorce from singer Bobby Brown, her husband of 14 years. Premier thinks the long-subdued pop star can make a grand reentrance. “She deserves another chance,” he says. “I won’t misguide her career and give her some bulls**t [track].”
As for Nas, Premier produced an as-yet-untitled track for the rapper’s forthcoming album “Hip-Hop Is Dead…The N,” due Dec. 19 via Def Jam. The pair previously worked together on Nas’ 1994 debut “Illmatic” (Columbia).
“We did one song for the [new] album but we haven’t mixed it yet,” says Premier, who correctly predicted the disc would be pushed back from its original November release date. “I don’t know what the latest [date] is but I think he should wait ’til next year, personally, to really make a classic bomb. He can do it but I think he needs more time. Whatever he chooses, he’s got my support.”
In addition, Nas and Preemo hope to release their long-brewing collaborative set soon. “[Nas] told me he wants the next album to be the one that we finally do, just me and him, all the way through — just a Premier and Nas album,” says Premier. “We’ll see if that goes down.”
Premier is also crafting material for NYGz and Blaq Poe — two New York-based rappers on his label, Year Round — and he says his own album, “A Man of Few Words,” is “still on the table. I just put it on hold for me to really get my artists out there first because they’re gonna make my album grow,” says Premier. “[Then] we’ll be recognized for bringing new, good hip-hop to the table.”
While Premier and his Gang Starr partner, Guru, are currently focused on side projects (Guru is working on “Jazzmatazz Vol. 4”), Virgin/EMI Music Catalog Marketing will on Dec. 26 release the greatest hits CD “Mass Appeal: The Best of Gang Starr.” The 21-track disc contains two songs that were originally released on film soundtracks. A CD/DVD set, featuring 13 music videos, will also be available.