DJ Premier doesn’t have to do much to prepare himself for another battle on the ones & twos. Last weekend, we found the legendary mixer and producer inside Sidebar in Downtown Miami — hours before his scheduled duel with fellow DJ and producer Pete Rock — doing what he does best before any gig. As the sound engineers prepare the massive speakers for the epic showdown, Preemo was completely unbothered as he scarfed down a burrito from a local Mexican restaurant.
“What was the name of the place we just ate the burrito at?” Premier asks his manager. “Taco Loco. That, and a tortilla soup.”
The meal was necessary for him to take on his favorite opponent Pete Rock. Hype surrounding his own battle was through the roof for his fans, however, Preemo says he doesn’t need to do much else to prepare for his gigs anymore — outside of the customary soundcheck. The founding DJ of Gang Starr isn’t a stranger to the 305, but it was his first time battling Pete Rock in Miami. These rap veterans have been making headlines with their unforgettable match-ups since they first squared off overseas in Tokyo, Japan in 2010. Over the last seven years, Preemo and Pete have brought their battle to major cities in the U.S. including Boston, San Francisco, and now, Miami.
“Me and Pete have been doing this off and on for five years. We never rehearse or anything. We just freestyle the whole set,” he says. “The only thing we pretty much put together is just an intro to start the show. After that, I pretty much let him set it off.”
His live battle would come nowhere close to the world broadcast of Swizz Beats and Just Blaze’s duel in New York City at the beginning of the month. Premier says he was busy with his own show on Sirius XM called “Live From The Headquarters,” when his comrades battled but he was tuned in to Instagram Live on his phone to hear it all. Afterwards, Preemo spoke to VIBE about his most recent work with R&B singers like Miguel and Torii Wolf. He also confirmed that he’s “one song away” from completing work on PRhyme 2 with Royce Da 5’9.
“PRhyme 2 is almost done,” Premier said towards the end of our interview. “I’m one song away from finishing but we still have to mix and we have features. We still got to get all the features locked down.’
That’s when Pete Rock walked into the venue. Before every battle his old friend greets him with an “L” on his forehead as he points his way and shouts “Loser,” and that’s exactly what he did. As soon as both DJs finished their “Drink Champs” episode with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, the event was jam packed with hip-hop fans from wall to wall who were all itching to watch the epic battle unfold live in front of their eyes.
After openers like DJ Heron warmed up the crowd, Preemo and Pete Rock made their way to the stage and immediately began hurling classic rap records from J Dilla, Mobb Deep, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, and plenty more at each other. Midway into their set, Talib Kweli came out of nowhere and shocked everyone with a live performance of “Get By.” Needless to say, the battle was too lit.
This article was originally published on Billboard.com’s sister site VIBE.com.