DJ Premier: My Life in 15 Songs

Gang Starr co-founder and producer behind Nas, Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. classics recalls early days, lawsuits and working with Limp Bizkit

Load Previous

Gang Starr, "Just to Get a Rep" (1990)

I was living in the Bronx and a friend brought me the [French electronic composer Jean-Jacques Perrey] record [sampled for the song] and said, "I think you'd kill this." As soon as I heard it, I knew immediately what I'd do with it. That was more the looping era; now I chop samples into beats and make them more disguise-able, but back then it was just getting a dope loop. A few years later, I got sued by Perrey, but he worked out a good situation where he said, "Look, gimme a little fee for what you violated and I'll give you some library stuff of stuff I never released and you can start making beats off of my catalog."

It was the first time someone sued me over a sample. I was still naive to sampling laws because it was so new. They looked at [sampling] as straight thievery – which in a sense, it is – but we weren't doing it to violate anyone. We just loved their sounds and how pure they are. But I had a very good attorney. We were making so much money and he told me how much it was going to cost [to settle] and I just said, "Aw, fuck it. Pay him." [Gang Starr's debut album] No More Mr. Nice Guy was me still learning how to make beats. I didn't know what I was doing.

Back to Top