It takes a certain type of dedication and skill to have longevity in hip-hop and DJ Premier has the formula down pat. Premier has maintained a foot in hip-hop since his debut, carving out productions for Payday Records’ roster and working with the likes of JAY-Z, The Notorious B.I.G and Nas during the early stages of their careers. Now, in celebration of the Payday Records’ 25th anniversary, Moxey has resurrected the label and tapped DJ Premier as its first signee.
Premier’s deal required him to produce four new songs, one of which is the newly released anthem called “Our Streets” featuring A$AP Ferg. The collaboration was a long time coming for Premier, who said he’s been trying to track down Ferg for a track for quite some time, but getting in contact was difficult since both artists had previously changed their numbers.
“Alchemist, who’s one of the most respected producers on the scene, hit me up and was like, “Yo, Ferg’s looking for your number,” Premiere tells Billboard. “He gave me his number, I called Ferg and was like ‘I wanna do this record’ and he said he’s on tour but maybe we can squeeze a day in so I can come to the studio. Maybe like three days later we went to the studio and made the song in like one day.”
At first listen, “Our Streets” isn’t the typical instrumental fans are used to hearing the Hood Pope soar over but Ferg’s flow coupled with Premier’s signature boom-bap make for a match made in hip-hop heaven. It’s a departure from the trap-laden bops filling radio airwaves, but Ferg sounds right at home as he boasts, “Preemo put the soul in it, I make the track hot.”
The Harlemite admits he didn’t feel pressured but wanted Preemo to be “satisfied” with the end result.
“Getting into it I really wanted to write and I really wanted to be motivated as an artist, I really wanted to be pushed,” Ferg says. “If you know Premier, you know he’s a producer that’s gonna push all his artists from Biggie to JAY-Z to M.O.P, whoever it is and he wants the purest you and that was it — I let him do his job. So I was the student and he was the teacher.”
The “Plain Jane” rapper likens the chemistry between him and Premier to that of a fitness trainer and trainee. “It was like being in the gym and exercising. You exercise your body you gotta exercise your mind and your lyrics so for me it was like Premier was my trainer and he was making sure I was getting the best out of my muscles.”
The pair also shot the video for “Our Streets,” which Preemo reveals is a “merge between his generation’s rap scene and my scene and “salutes that throwback New York vibe from the clothes to the old car with VVS rims.”
As for his longevity in the game, Preemo says it’s a “huge blessing” that he’s able to stay relevant as most DJ’s who have come up in his era have fizzled out into irrelevance. “I often reflect on my career and I’m like wow; I’m still successful, still making money, still being able to take care of my family and my team and still be relevant to music in some type of fashion where all my old heads are still happy that they’re getting music from me,” Premier says. ” I still like making records, I still like to compete with all the competition; I never put a date on my career stopping at a certain time, you’re supposed to start when you’re tired of doing it and I’m not tired of doing it.”