Big D Presents... Top 30 Greatest DJ Premier Collaborations (Part 2 of 2)Jun 10, 2007 (Updated Jun 12, 2007) Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Part 2 of 2
Part 1: http://www.epinions.com/content_5035696260
And so we continue with Part 2 of Big D's Top 30 Greatest DJ Premier Collaborations. The Top 15 Greatest Primo cuts ever. The last 15 were all hot, don't get me wrong, but these are the ESSENTIAL Premier collaborations that in many cases are the reason why he is such a legend and others are early songs that put him on the map. In just looking at the folks involved, Preme has worked with a variety of emcees ranging from the hardcore, to the conscious, to the lyrical battle emcee, to mafioso, to everything. It's like he has a beat for every song, and this proves it. Well enough with the intro, check it out:
15. M.O.P. - Lifestylez of a Ghetto Child
Album: Firing Squad
Youtube Link: N/A
Recently I reviewed Firing Squad and said it was crucial hip-hop listening and M.O.P.'s best album. Well, like I've stated before, Premier has a lot to do with that. No disrespect to the skills of Lil Fame and Billy Danzenie, but Primo made their albums that damn great. With that said, this song is one of my favorites from the album and features one of Preme's penultimate pieces, a sombre and dark violin, providing a dangerous, nightmarish atmosphere for M.O.P.'s nihilistic storytelling and cautionary tales. Yeah its ill... what more can I say?
14. Gangstarr - You Know My Steez
Album: Moment of Truth
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXCo_lR3Pp0
I personally feel 1998's Moment of Truth is Gangstarr's best album mainly because Guru's lyrics were modernized and Preme's production skills had been mastered. Moment of Truth became Gangstarr's biggest and most successful album to date, and you can credit it to this single, which made it to #76 on the Billboard Top 100 charts, which is an accomplishment for underground hip-hop in an era where flashy suits and lights were the selling points. Primo's melody here is Godlike, taking from Joe Simon's "Drowning in the Sea of Love", and of course doing his thing. Do yourself a favor and check the damn expensive-looking music video.
13. Nas - Memory Lane (Sittin' In Da Park)
Album: Illmatic [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_104700939908]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bdGHe_x_NQ [NOT A VIDEO]
"Keep it on and on and on and on an..." is forever etched into the minds of Nas fans, and a lot of them consider this song to be THE BEST Nas song of all time, which is saying something from an artist who has more classics in his discography than Dave has Tyra Banks jpegs on his computer. Xylophones and a hard drum loop provide the hip-hop, while Preme takes Reuben Wilson's "We're In Love" and allows Nas to make himself a legend. You can point at this song and say that it's one of the reasons why Illmatic is held in such high regard and could even be considered the leader of the album, mainly because the subject matter is exactly what Illmatic is about: street poetry about what Nas sees out of his project window. Saying it's a classic yet again isn't going to make a difference.
12. Jeru the Damaja - Come Clean
Album: The Sun Rises in the East [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_138856074884]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B5dOCSBBEI
Taking the drums from Funk Inc.'s "Kool is Back", Primo laces one of his more memorable grimy beats of the era, sort of capitalizing on the success of Wu-Tang months prior, giving it to Jeru The Damaja, who was Gangstarr Foundations hottest up and coming emcee at the time. Jeru is criticized for his lyricism, but I personally think he's dope as hell. Is he anywhere close to the heavyweights? Probably not, but he has his own distinct delivery and hard flow, which I feel makes The Sun Rises in the East a classic album, along with the fact that it's entirely produced by DJ Premier. This was THE single.
11. Jay-Z - A Million and One Questions / Rhyme No More
Album: Vol 1: In My Lifetime [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_116341182084]
Youtube Link: N/A
Without a single doubt in my mind, "A Million and One Questions / Rhyme No More" is one of DJ Premier's greatest artistic accomplishments. Okay, so here's what this genius does. First he takes the opening keys from Latimore's jazz classic "Let Me Go" (download this song ASAP), and doubles them up to a breakbeat, tripling the third chord for that "doom doom doom" sound you hear. Once Jay rhymes the first half ("A Million and One Questions"), you quickly hear some violins for the break, some scratch-sampling, and silence... then Hova comes on the track with "Motherfuckers can't RHYME no more, bout crime no more" and a SECOND beat comes on, which is actually the melody of the first beat, BACKWARDS. Premier can not be touched by anybody. Forget 9th Wonder. Forget Rza. Forget Kanye.
Oh yeah, and Jay can rhyme too.
10. Pitch Black - It's All Real
Album: Pitch Black Law [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_164986195588]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGPpnXNt5mk
Okay so Pitch Black Law was whack lyrically and production-wise, with the exception of the two Primo tracks, which might sound like a bit of a fluke, but no I'm serious. For some reason, when Preme is behind the boards, Pitch Black actually TRIES harder, unlike Group Home who just SOUND better, you can tell they have to step their game up, and they did in the single. I vividly remember when this video first aired on BET and I heard those beatbreaks, then SEEING Primo, I can't even describe how happy I was. Real Hip-Hop made it. My son Marat feels that Preme gave them a beat that was way too good for them. I wouldn't disagree, mainly because the album as a whole is one huge pot of fecal dissapointment, but you can't deny they rip it here. This video is as HIP-HOP as it gets, with a mic in the middle of the city, Preme rippin the boards, and Pitch Black rippin it.
9. KRS-One - MCs Act Like They Don't Know
Album: KRS-One [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_117212155524]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTea5duGTbs
In my opinion, KRS-One was Kris' greatest album of all-time, and what a surprise that Premier happened to jump on it. The teacher basically aims his guns at everybody here, and although nobody can deny that he's a legend, he's a little crazy. Either way, this is a banger, with Preme bringing the up-tempo head that is needed for a bangin rap single. Kris is no slouch on the mic either. If you haven't gotten this album yet, what are you waiting for?
8. Jay-Z f/ Big Jaz & Sauce Money - Bring It On
Album: Reasonable Doubt [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_158925491844]
Youtube Link: N/A
DJ Premier himself said this was his favorite beat he gave Jay, and with good reason. The instrumentation and chords here are awe-inspiring, and the Fat Joe sample is great ("Bring it on if you think you can hang, and if not, then let me do my thang"). All three emcees absolutely rip it, including one of the most overlooked Jay-Z verses ever (Maneurisms of a young Bobby De Niro... etc). Primo laces just a simple smooth violins cresendo, and backed by the dope lyricism, you can't go wrong.
7. Notorious B.I.G. - Ten Crack Commandments
Album: Life After Death [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_96491835012]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyiHWn2fo0o [NOT A VIDEO]
A lot of people argue as to what beat Primo did for Biggie was the best, and quite often, "Kick in the Door" gets thrown in there. I love that beat, but no... THIS song is the G.O.A.T. of Preme/Biggie collabos. Preme digs in the crates yet again and discovers Les McCann's "Valantra", takes the opening chords, loops it, adds the Chuck D sample, the scratches, and you've got a masterpiece. He makes it look easy. Notorious B.I.G.'s drug-pushing rules are damn entertaining and probably something to follow in life, whether or not you push weight. Speaking of weight, Biggie himself is absolute lyrical fire here:
"I been in this game for years, it made me a animal
It's rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step by step booklet for you to get
your game on track, not your wig pushed back"
6. Non-Phixion - Rock Stars
Album: The Future is Now [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_103964315268]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHdkmNPNcV8
The Future is Now was a great album, loaded with beatmaking heavyweights like Large Professor, The Beatnuts, Pete Rock, and of course, DJ Premier. This was the lead single from the album and boy is it a banger. Sabac Red, Goretex, and Ill Bill trade verses over banging Primo production which is like a mixture of hip-hop drums with steel rock guitars. However the true highlight is Primo's scratch sample chorus, which I believe is the best in his whole career, and that's sayin something:
"Coming through rocking"...
"Wild like Rockstars who smash guitars"... "Non-Phixion"
5. Rakim - When I Be on the Mic
Album: The Master [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_151835348612]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KZbdFyzkds
One of the founding fathers of lyricism has teamed with Primo a couple of times, and when you have arguably the best rapper of all time with the best producer, how can it not be magic? Well it is. This was one of the few true classics on the dissapointing Master album, and fans of old-school Rakim should enjoy his tearing the mic in half with somebody not named Eric B.. This one of Primo's bouncier beats of his career, and his scratching is among the best he's ever done, so great to the point that Rakim actually dedicated a part of the second verse to the skills of DJ Premier.
Nowadays DJ's bags of tricks, graphic
On some behind the back shit, catch it and scratch it
Classic, this kid got his craft mastered
Hands is mad quick like he mix with magic
Spin it back and forth and grab it... and know just where it is...
................There it is"
4. Nas - Nas is Like
Album: I Am... [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_97727319684]
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rBTJ-P6LHU
This track has become infamous because a lot of people really believe this could be Primo's best beat ever. Nas had fully engrossed himself in the mafioso Nas Escobar character by the time I Am hit store shelves, so it was refreshing to hear this because it was one of the few truly "Nasty Nas" moments on the album. Nas rhymes and collaborative chemistry with Primo is the one main reason the track is so successful at being dope, with Nas comparing himself to all sorts of things and Primo samping in vocals from "It Ain't Hard to Tell" and other classic Nas tracks.
3. Gangstarr f/ Total - Discipline
Album: Full Clip
Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HR8IKg2k5tE
At one time, this could've been #1. This was from Gangstarr's greatest hits album as a bonus. I absolutely love this song more than anybody can imagine. Guru's rhymes focus on clearing your mind and avoiding temptation, but yet the temptation to play this song on repeat is simply too much to fight. One of Premier's most clean, radio-friendly pieces is here, with bouncy percussion and light drums. This song may have been a prelude to Primo's work on Christina Aguilera's album last year, as it seems like a lot of producers are switching to that. Primo brings in female pop-group Total for the chorus, proving that clean sound that makes the song a bonafied classic. The chorus is beautiful:
"Baby won't you take the time (take the time)
Let me know what's on your mind (your mind)
Just because I'm yours don't make it riiiiiiiight
(don't make it right)
Baby won't you take the time (bay-bee..)
Let me know what's on your mind (I'm waiting..)
Slow down baby now let's make it right (on your love..)
(I like you..)
2. Showbiz & A.G. - Da Next Level (Nyte Tyme Remix)
Album: Goodfellas [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_278040579716]
Dave (ALB)'s favorite beat of all time. Opening with a nice little scratch, we immediately bump into vocal samplings of "Showbiz..... A.G.", followed by a distinct "doom doom doom" bassline, followed by random growls. This is one of the simplest possibly beats to make, without heavy use of any real jazz or piano instrumentation, but rather just Primo playing behind the boards, proving that he is God. Speaking of God, A.G. himself is a candidate, dropping what many consider the best performance of his career although the song is a laid-back, semi-party track that EVERYBODY can enjoy. Some of you may remember the beat from 8 Mile as well. A.G. said it right "shit is bumpin, ear drums thumpin"... damn true. Godlike.
1. Royce Da 5'9 - Boom
Album: Rock City [Review: http://www.epinions.com/content_100386639492]
Believe it or not, Royce Da 5'9 is at #1. Dave believes Royce could've been one of the greatest emcees of all time if he fine-tuned his albums and dropped more frequently. That's definitely a credible statement. I think he needed more Primo, and it works here. The production... well... it's hard to describe it in words. This redefines the term: thumping, as Primo's scratching and production is just... unbelievable. The violin sample backed by the raindrop-like drums forms what I feel is his greatest composition ever. Royce is no slouch either. This is without a doubt Royce's best song ever and his best lyrical performance ever. In fact, the first verse of the song is one of the best opening verses to a song ever in rap:
"I'm the verbal-spit Smith Wesson...
I unload with sick spit the quick wit could split a split-second
Bomb with a lit wick expression...
You here a tick tick then you testin..
My saliva and spit can split thread into fiber and bits
So trust me, I'm as live as it gets
Everybody claimin they the best and had the throne
Since B.I.G is gone, if you ask me, they "Dead Wrong"
My flow is hotter than the flash from the click
When the hammer slaps the bullet on the ass from the clip
You wind up in a room full of my dawgs
I'll have you feeling like a fire hydrant in a room full of dogs
So come, come now, get pissed on, shitted on
Tough talk turns to, "Can't we all just get along"
You get blazed when the mic's off, shot when it's on
You probably ducked when they laid the gun shot in your song
My gun strrr-utters when it speaks to you, utter shit to repeat to you
Nothing the clip, then give a speech to you
Me and Premier, we kind of the same in ways
We both speak with our hands in dangerous ways
Rap now is a circus of clowns
A whole lot of lip from cliques I'd probably rap circles around
I'm the next best to reach a peak formerly known
as the best keep secret, I guess that I just leaked it...
Well there you have it.. These are essential listening to any music fan, whether or not you like Preme. So get out and pick up some of these albums, read my reviews on them, give me my damn VH if you haven't already, and enjoy!
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