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

Gang Starr, "Words I Manifest" (1989)

The James Brown era of sampling was very heavy and I wanted to be a part of that. The [songs] that I wanted to sample were pretty much used up by every artist you can think of. That's when I went, "Damn, man. I wonder what it would be like to take jazz samples with naked space to look for sounds that I can manipulate and program into drum patterns." I snuck a little James Brown in there, though, with the main vocal section.

I was in New York at the time, but kept going back to Texas [periodically] to do a semester in college. It got to the point where I wasn't taking my classes seriously. I'm back with all my friends I used to run the streets with and we're getting into trouble. My father was my dean, so the teachers were ratting on me [laughs]. When Marley Marl, my biggest idol, opened his radio show with [this song], though, that's all I needed to know. I was like, "Ohhhh my God."