Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Premo Reverse DJs Brooklyn

They opened Marsellus Wallace's suitcase and then poured cocaine on it

Gang Starr - "Flip the Script"

Last Thursday, DJ Premier spun (I feel strange using this term, maybe because I've never actually gone anywhere for the purpose of seeing a DJ) some records at the bar in my building, Sputnik. FYI, Sputnik is probably the best bar in NYC, and this only has a little to do with the fact that I can get there in a hop and a skip, and a lot to do with the portrait of Czar Nicolas on the bathroom door and the always stellar, mostly hip hop DJs there (who aren't superproducers). Anyway, Premo was there for this "Brooklyn Next" event, which also included an art show and this band Pagoda, which features the actor Michael Pitt, of The Dreamers fame, on guitar, vocals and hair-in-face postures.

This Pitt guy has a constantly pouting mouth and he was dressed like he was doing an impression of Curt Cobain, which is funny because he played a Cobain-like character in Gus Van Sant's movie Last Days. His band is on Thurston Moore's label, and their website features a note by Moore concerning how and why they are the shit. Too bad they kinda suck. They do, however, have a nasty cello player (cellist), who was encircled in pedals. After the show, my brother-in-law ordered a shot of tequila for the guy, on me, just because he played the cello. I told him he was the J. Mascis of the cello. Unfortunately for him, he didn't know who J. Mascis was.

Premo is 40 years old. He produces records for Xtina and, according to Nas, would've produced all of Hip Hop is Dead had he been able to clear his schedule. So I have no idea why he is actually DJing at a bar in Brooklyn. Apparently the owner of the bar saved his life once, or something. I dunno. Anyway, he was there, not terrifically late, and he played some motherfucking records for people to dance to and rap along to. I was drunk and it was fun.

He did a little James Brown tribute to open his set, which is always good, and better than Allyiah (whose name should be in spelling bees) or Left-Eye (who somehow managed to marry Ardre Risen after burning down his house) tributes. Then he basically just played all the biggest tracks he produced, doing some DJ stuff in between, but mostly just playing his songs and shouting out Brooklyn and Brooklyn rappers who are either dead (Biggie), less famous than him (Guru), or more famous than him (Jay-Z). People bugged out a little and there were a bunch of dudes in front of the DJ booth who rapped along to every song in a trance. I was mostly just struck by the odd nature of this situation.

DJing is a lost art. Turntablists are basically only known to other turntablists, aka irrelevant. The only DJs that are still relevant aren't DJs at all anymore, but producers. (Imagine if Quincy Jones played solo piano at a Bar, that's what this felt like) Big name producers don't go on tour with rappers anymore. 9th Wonder used to DJ for Little Brother, which meant that he produced them and DJed with them on the road. then he realized he could make a bunch of loot producing records for more commercially viable rappers and riding around in vans with Phonte. Now he's not even part of the group and when he makes a record with a quasi-underground rapper like Murs, he gets equal billing. The whole point of the DJ, as a precursor to the producer, was to play records that he didn't make, mix them together, and create a beat. Premo, however, just played songs he had made and let people applaud him. Luckily he's one of the greatest producers in the history of hip-hop; as in, without him, hip hop would be completely different. Along with RZA, Large Professor, Pete Rock et al, he literally created the sound of 90s hip hop. And now he's teaming up with Xtina and making some some pop records that stand up with anything Timbo is doing in that same genre.

When he got into his Gang Starr material, which was around 2 or so (he started at 12:30 or so), the crowd thinned out and a bunch of people left. This makes sense. Guru is not very famous.


Sordid Puppy said...

guru pretty much sucks. furman, you're so ny-centric. that, and that alone, is your list of 90s-defining producers? im not even going to go into know better. that brooklyn lager is going to your head. and then to your head.

Furman P. Slothra said...

yeah i guess i meant those are are the NEW YORK 90s hip hop defining producers. not gonna pretend like i know anything about the history of hip hop from anywhere else.