Over half a decade ago now (7-8 years, something like that) I heard my first DJ Premier tape courtesy of my man Ron. I don’t remember the exact scientifics of how it ended up in my hands though. It was probably something like, “Hey Flash I know I owe you a few bucks, so hold onto this ’til I can pay you back.” The other time this happened, I ended up with a Gravediggaz tape that had a song not released in the U.S. under an alternate name – I think “Niggamortis” instead of “6 Feet Deep.” I was afraid to take it out of the shrinkwrap though cause I figured he’d be mad if he came up with the loot and I had, so I never touched it (and still have it buried in a box of stuff packed up from my dorm room somewhere). The second time I fared much better, as he hit me off with a “Crooklyn Cuts” Primo tape he picked up on a recent visit to the East coast. After listening to it, I honestly never cared if he paid me back or not – it was some of the freshest, rawest, most uncut pure hip-hop I had ever heard. The trademark “Premier, P-P-P-Premier” line echoed in my head for weeks, as did a sample of The Lady of Rage doing the same from her “Necessary Roughness” album.
It’s been a long time Primo, I shouldn’t have left you. Even though you did me a solid with the “Haze Presents NY Reality 101” mix CD a few years back, I haven’t gone out of my way to cop any more Premier mixes that couldn’t be found in regular retail outlets. “Australia/New Zealand Tour Mixtape 2004” convinces me that was a huge mistake. Right from the start, Primo is picking nothing but the choicest quality cuts. He sets the tone right with the Prince Paul track “Politics of the Business” where Chuck D and Ice-T talk (literally talk, they do not rap) about how shady the music industry is. From that point you know it’s on, as Primo is only going to show love to those who DESERVE IT, cause the man doesn’t play politics. In rapid succession, the songs blaze up your ears lovely: Royce Da 5-9’s “Hip Hop,” M.O.P.’s “Whut the Fuck” and SK’s “The Streets” are each scratched into the mix with Primo’s tricks and served to you hot and fresh. If they don’t get you amped, you probably don’t have a pulse.
If you’re not familiar with a DJ Premier mixtape yourself, you should know that Preem’ only likes to choose the grimy shit, the rugged underground shit, the stuff that’s not exactly going to tear up the charts on BET or MTV. That doesn’t mean the music’s any less fat mind you. Raekwon’s “King of Kings” featuring Havoc from Mobb Deep is some of the hardest hitting boom and pound to be found in rap. It’s stripped raw, hella heavy, and neither Havoc nor Raekwon are taking any shit lyrically or musically. He can go from big names to lesser known ones at the drop of a hat though, as he follows up with the Encore song “Zigga Zigga” and gives those who don’t know the “Layover” rapper yet a chance to get down with his Hieroglyphics sound. Primo also puts on one of the few Bravehearts songs I can respect, “Twilight” featuring Nas, although unfortunately my CD player doesn’t seem to track it well (maybe there was a flaw in the burning).
There’s no let down in the quality of the music though. The twelve inch bootleg only Ghostface song “The Drummer” can be found here, alone with the Obie Trice remix to “The Set Up” featuring everyone from Redman to Lloyd Banks and Jadakiss. It just don’t stop ’til the casket drop. The underrated Kardinal Offishal spits on the beautiful and haunting flute loops of “Kemotherapy” and brags “I create 9/11 with every mic I touch” and manages not to offend me cause his rap and beat are so fat. From the little heard 54th Regiment on “Recognize the Name” to the name that’s MUCH more recognized in Biz Markie on the song “Chinese Food,” it’s all good. The latter half of this CD has to be my personal favorite, as Primo touches all the bases from underground gems like Immortal Technique’s “Industrial Revolution” to the thugged out G-Unit song “G’d Up” to the Mobb Deep hotness of “Gangstaz Roll” to giving the Westside Connection dap on “You Gotta Have Heart.” You can’t front on the scope of his choices, from North to East to West, except that even though Preem’ hails from Texas there are no Southern rappers getting love (how ’bout at least one Devin the Dude song in here). Still it’s good to know that after all these years, DJ Premier, P-P-P-Premier hasn’t lost his golden touch in making New York’s hottest mix tapes going.