DJ Premier is a DJ and record producer who is widely regarded as one of the all-time best producers of hip hop music.
Over his prolific career, he has produced works by such artists as J. Cole, Mobb Deep, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Common, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. DJ Premier is also renowned with half of the acclaimed hip-hop duos Gang Starr and PRhyme.
Early Life and Education
DJ Premier, whose real name is Christopher Edward Martin, was born on March 21, 1966, in Houston, Texas.
As a teenager, he was mentioned in Prairie View, Texas, before moving to the Brooklyn borough of latest York City. Martin later moved back to Texas to attend Prairie View A&M University.
In college, he worked because the campus DJ and sometimes performed with the esteemed Marching Storm band.
In 1989, Martin joined Keith Edward Elam, known by his pseudonym Guru, within the hip hop duo Gang Starr.
The pair subsequently released the only “Words I Manifest” and the album “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
Shortly after this, Gang Starr signed to the Chrysalis record label, offering the duo unlimited artistic license and worldwide major-label distribution.
Gang Starr became one of the most popular and influential hip hop acts of the 90s, helping to pioneer jazz rap and, therefore, the New York City hip hop sound.
Following the albums “Step within the Arena” and “Daily Operation,” the duo released “Hard to Earn,” which featured their first Billboard Hot 100-charting single, “Mass Appeal.”
In 1998, Gang Starr had its greatest commercial and important success with “Moment of Truth,” which debuted as a favorite on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The album is taken into account by many to be the duo’s magnum opus.
In early 2010, Guru suffered an attack that put him into a coma. He gave up the ghost a few months later. In 2019, Gang Starr released its final album, “One of the simplest Yet,” which Elam had worked on before his death.
The album also features guest appearances from Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, and J. Cole, among other artists.
Career as Producer
As a producer, DJ Premier produced all of Gang Starr’s songs. He has also produced the works of an array of popular artists like Common, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Kanye West, Papoose, the Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Mos Def, Mac Miller, Nas, Limp Bizkit, Ludacris, and Dr. Dre, among many others.
Beyond hip hop, Premier also served as a producer on Christina Aguilera’s 2006 pop R&B album “Back to Basics.” The album debuted atop the Billboard 200, while its lead single, “Ain’t No Other Man,” won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Among his other notable production credits, Premier produced MC Jeru the Damaja’s 1994 album “The Sun Rises within the East” and his 1996 album “Wrath of the Math.”
During this point, he also produced and supervised “Livin’ Proof” by the hip hop duo Group Home. Later, in the 2000s, Premier worked with Blaq Poet on the album “Tha Blaqprint,” released by Premier’s company Year Round Records.
Beyond his work with Gang Starr, Premier is closely related to the hip hop duo M.O.P. Their relationship began in 1994 with a remix of the group’s single “Rugged, Neva Smoove.”
Premier has since produced a variety of songs on M.O.P.’s various albums. Later, in 2014, he partnered with Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5’9″ as half of the hip hop duo PRhyme.
The pair subsequently released their self-titled debut album, which peaked at seven on the highest R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. A second album, “PRhyme 2,” came calling in 2018; it features guest appearances by rappers 2 Chainz, Dave East, Yelawolf, and Rapsody, among others.
In terms of his music genre, DJ Premier is understood for his heavy sampling of funk, jazz, and soul artists. Additionally, he’ll often scratch in lyrics from various songs to create new phrases at the turntables.
Premier has cited various artists as influential to his style, including Marley Marl, Jam Master Jay, UTFO, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash.