The Top Five DJ Premier Beats -- by Angus Crawford and the Knights of the Turntables, August 2008
One summer during college I had a late night radio show that had a pretty decent audience. During one session I started out playing three Premier beats in a row and just decided that I would only play songs Premier produced for the three hour show.
Some callers were upset that I was not taking their requests, but we were able to compromise because each artist had a Premier beat somewhere in their catalog.
Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie, Rakim, KRS One, Snoop, Mos Def, Common, Big L, Fat Joe, O.C., Jeru, CNN, The Lox, Das EFX, M.O.P., and the Group Home are just a few of the rappers to work with Preemo. The man certainly has a signature sound and has set the standard for all other producers who want to scratch in their chorus. Nothing is better than when he flips lyrics from “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” to create the chorus of “Nas is Like”.
For the past two decades Premier has been one of the best, if not the best, producers in rap. It’s only fitting that we paid our tribute Joell Ortiz style
5. “Moment of Truth” (1998) – Gang Starr
Guru and Premier’s fifth album was arguably their best and arguably the best album of the year (the last great year for hip hop). The title track was one of Premier’s most melodic and blended perfectly with GURU’s self-help lines.
4. “NY State of Mind” (1994) – Nas
Young Nas knew what he was doing when he tapped Preemo to produce three of the nine beats on his debut classic. None of the beats hit as hard as “NY State” with the simple but complex dark drum beats topped with the occasional piano cord that sets Illmatic’s tone for life in the QB.
3. “Come Clean” (1994) – Jeru The Damaja
My choice for number one because of the creativity to use “water torture” as the foundation and kicking in the drums later. In a touch of irony, the beat is extra dirty (even for a Premier track) to compliment Jeru’s clever battle style rhymes.
2. “A Million and One” (1997) – Jay-Z
After the success of the “D’Evils” and “Friend or Foe”, it was only fitting that the two legends initiated the Jay-Z ridiculously-good-“intro”-to-his-albums era. Premier blesses the track with harmonious piano loops, and disguises Aayliyah’s voice (at least I think its her) to help Jay-Z make a refreshingly reflective track.
1. “Mass Appeal” (1994) – Gang Starr
Once again there is a run-a-away winner for the number one spot. The keyboard melody is too sick for words and has some of Premier’s best scratching. It’s quintessential Premo during his prime when all other producers were his sons like Elroy.