After years of rewriting hip-hop behind the decks and digging up samples from the deepest record bins, DJ Premier has debuted "Bpatter," a live-instrument track and the first offering from his new band titled DJ Premier and the Badder.
The Rolling Stone exclusive track packs all the power and dusty soul of a classic Premier beat, but as its raucous accompanying clip emphasizes, the addition of live drums, horns and bass — alongside Premier's own whooping and scratching — injects his style with a new energy.
DJ Premier and the Badder wrote "Bpatter" during their second rehearsal as they prepped for six test performances in Japan. While waiting for bassist Brady Watt, trumpeter/keyboardist Taku Kuroda began playing a keyboard riff and the other members quickly built on top of it.
"Taku started playing this riff, [drummer] Lenny [Reece] joined in and then I started scratching the 'Let's Get Down' line just goofing off to pass the time," Premier tells Rolling Stone. "But we always keep the tape recording so that we can listen back to an idea that might turn into something later. Then we decided to record it professionally and add on to it and it organically worked."
The video was filmed in both New York and Hamburg, Germany. Premier tells Rolling Stone that Kuroda couldn't make the band's shoot in NYC, so at their opening gig in Germany, the DJ grabbed a "PREEMO" T-shirt from the merch table and had photographer Daniel Hastings film Kuroda in the green room.
Despite Premier's long history as a DJ, live instrumentation has been a part of his arsenal since he was a kid and he says he's always wanted to play in a band. Growing up in Texas, he learned how to play drums and bass — his teacher was the father of rapper Travis Scott — and also played guitar in church with his older sister. DJ Premier and the Badder formed at the suggestion of Premier's manager, Ian Schwartzman, who'd discussed the possibility with Kuroda's agent, hence the trip to Japan.
"The band is just another extension of what I will continue to do, which is to make hardcore raw beats," Premier says. "That part will never change. Sometimes I will do band stuff; sometimes I'll do traditional sampling stuff."
DJ Premier and the Badder are currently trekking through Europe, and the DJ hopes to record an album with the band in the future. Still, he insisted he's not giving up his bread and butter as a producer: He recently contributed to Dr. Dre's Compton and has a solo LP in the works as well, slated for release via Year Round Records.
"I always have ideas swimming in my head and even more creative things will arise after I do this," Premier says. "But my hip-hop production will still remain on the MPC. I could never abandon that style. That's how I got my name in lights."