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

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Gang Starr, "Mass Appeal" (1994)

It's a joke song. The radio stations strayed away from the raw hip-hop that they were playing in the early 1990s. We were like, "All this watered down stuff is dominating the airwaves. We should make a record to make fun of that and Guru's like, "Let's call it 'Mass Appeal.'" [The melody] sounds like something you'd hear in an elevator when you're just sitting there watching the floor numbers change. I love that record. I love it.

I love the video because it was our first time – now that we got houses, cars and money – where we wanted to go back to the projects in the Brooklyn neighborhood I used to live in and shoot there. You have to get a pass from the murderers and drug dealers; the ones that hold that whole area down. Not every rapper could do that; they had love for us because they knew we never changed. When I sent the word we wanted to shoot a video in there, everyone was like, "Yeah. Just don't put us in it." Now they're all in the video showing their money and going to jail. We call them "walking indictments."

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