At the outset of 2015, DJ Premier made a huge announcement. The iconic producer, DJ, & one half of Gang Starr had formed a new five-piece band. With Preemo’s new Queens, New York-based HeadQcourterz studio & the still unnamed (the collective has now officially been christened The Badder) collective that reverberated the walls with pulsating sounds from live instruments.
“When we put the band together, the key to any relationship is that you vibe together in a way that you can make magic happen. That’s what happened with me & Guru, that’s what must continue with anybody I connect with.”
Days later, Brady Watt (Bass), Lenny “The Ox” Reece (Drums), Takuya Kuroda (Horns/Keys), & Mark Williams (Trombone/Keys) hit Japan to do a national tour, playing twice a day, for four days straight. With DJ Premier behind the turntables, mixer, & laptop, the band jammed out grooves, ranging from more obscure Preemo productions (Ill Bill, Skyzoo, Torae) to rarely performed relics (Jeru The Damaja, Lord Finesse), to hip-hop influencers (Curtis Mayfield). Now, that same energy, chemistry, & historic extension of DJ Premier’s career hits the States.
“Put us against anybody, we’re a problem,” touts the DJ, who brings the bravado, competitiveness, & desire from excellence from the 1980s hip-hop climate into his tour outfit. The five-piece band improvises, often providing some nuances that may vary a set from night to night. Preemo confirms that currently, he has been crafting an homage to Gang Starr & M.O.P.’s rare 1998 soundtrack cut, “½ & ½”. Having the band not only affords Premier the ability to honor cult-championed songs, but he showcases the musicality of Rap.
“My addiction is turntables, drum machines, guitars, amps, & a lot of speakers. I have fun doing a whole bunch of different styles with the band, because they fall into place so well, with everything that we’ve brought into the picture, no matter what it is.”
Gang Starr is a backbone to the show. Honoring his longtime partner Guru, DJ Premier continues to wave the flag. “I miss that dude so much, and we have a long & undeniable track record,” says Premier. This tour allows the band to play deeper cuts from the legendary duo, including the poignant ‘Hard To Earn‘ gem “Mostly Tha Voice”. While hits are woven in, the sets allow deeper consideration. “I get to do rare Gang Starr records, not just ‘Mass Appeal’, and it works.”
Approaching 30 years crafting hip-hop’s soundtrack, DJ Premier is invigorated through his band-mates. “I have to still preserve the sound of the city. Especially coming from Texas, that was my goal to gain acceptance in New York City, and I did that before money or tours.”
You can hear some of Premier’s recent work on Miguel & Dr. Dre’s albums, but be on the lookout for Preemo’s solo-album, the ‘PRhyme‘ digital deluxe album, upcoming material with Ed Sheeran, & Premier is serving as the Executive Music Producer for VH1’s original-movie “The Breaks“.
DJ Premier & The Badder are currently overseas for a 15-date European tour which kicked off a few days ago.