Behind every good rapper is a good producer. For Guru—and many, many others—that’s DJ Premier. When rap started to move away from stridently political fare, it took some great little turns before impaling itself on Bentleys and things that go bling. Along with the goofy theatrics of early De La Soul (who came up with the BK Lounge long before Dane Cook ever saw a microphone), Gang Starr played with the possibilities of hip-hop’s form. Premier’s signature use of laid-back jazz, funk and soul ushered in a Coltrane-blue shade of cool, epitomized in the album “Jazzmatazz.” His other work with verbal greats Biggie, Nas, Jeru the Damaja, Mos Def, Rakim and Jay-Z further solidified him as one of the best producers of all time. Having said that, his DJ skills don’t disappoint either. While Terminator X claims to “talk with his hands,” Premo takes it to a literal level: He has created rhymes by splicing together phrases cut from three, four—sometimes five different tracks. With copies of the same song on different turntables, he’s completely reconstructed the lyrics to a song of an MC he’s playing with. Yes, he did just produce pop tart Christina Aguilera’s new album (“Back To Basics” out on the 15th), hitting speeds that he usually doesn’t come anywhere near—but the 40-year-old has been the rule for so long that we owe him the occasional exception.
August 10 at Darkroom.