Breaking Down the Top 10 Best DJ Premier Beats Ever
Any hip hop purist will know that if DJ Premier isn’t the greatest, he’s one of the best rap producers ever. Breaking down the best DJ Premier Beats is no easy task. Although he was born and raised in Texas, Premo truly left his mark on the East Coast golden age of rap especially the New York sound. As a member of Gang Starr with Guru, DJ Premier experienced much success as an artist and a producer releasing numerous projects under the Gang Starr banner. DJ Premier beats are synonymous with some of New York’s greatest anthems.
The influence of DJ Premier stretches far wider than simply Gangg Starr’s discography with the producer having blessed acts of all genres with instrumentals. Premo has worked with Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas, Christina Aguilera, D’Angelo and more making him a versatile, production powerhouse in himself.
Summing up the best top best 10 DJ Premier beats is no easy feat but I feel like the songs that I’ve selected for this list really speak for themselves especially when you take into account the lasting impact of the songs.
10. Jay-Z “Intro/A Million & One Questions/Rhymes No More“
Album: “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1”
This is one of those records that really shows you that sampling is an art. I’m not talking grabbing some pre-made loops and matching up the timing, I’m talking grabbing bits and pieces from classics and tastefully crafting a masterful arrangement.
This one has portions of Aaliyah’s “One in a Million”, Latimore’s “Let Me Go”‘s Pianos, as well as a transition portion to the track that samples Ferrante & Teicher’s “Break Up to Make Up”. With a blend of those records with the traditional flare of DJ Premier beats, this rap beat truly is one in a million.
9. Notorious B.I.G. “Kick In The Door“
Album: Life After Death (1997)
Allegedly, Diddy wasn’t feeling the beat for “Kick in the Door” when he first heard it and said “This is not hot” but 20 years later it’s safe to say that this DJ Premier beat is one of the hardest rap beats of all time.
DJ Premier was always on to push the envelope and the power of this hip hop beat combined with Biggie’s lyrics made this track a timeless classic that stands the test of time making it one of the best DJ Premier beats.
8. Nas “Nas is Like“
I Am… (1999)
Only the 6th collaboration between Nasty Nas and Premier, “Nas Is” has a gritty sound to it from the minute you crack it on due to the record crackle and pops and masterful drum kick pattern. This DJ Premier beat showcases the sound that was popular during the golden area in hip hop with samples that crate diggers would kill for.
Many people were baffled for years as to where the DJ Premier sample came from until it was finally uncovered that John Rydgren and Bob R. Way’s 1966 record “What Child is This?” was utilized.
7. Jay-Z “D’Evils”
Reasonable Doubt (1996)
This one kicks off with Premier’s go-to piano line style combined with a Snoop Dogg sample which luckily arrived a year before the East Coast vs West Coast rivalry really picked up steam.
This DJ Premier beat also features a Dr.Dre sample, Prodigy sample and a hint of Allen Toussaint’s “Go Back Home”. As a result, this is a hazy, ethereal production that really takes you to another place if you sit back and enjoy.
6. Group Home “Supa Star”
Album: Livin’ Proof (1995)
First of all, Gang Starr’s duo Group Home was never viewed as the best rappers but their voices were perfect to get you hype. While Premo utilized Group Home’s vocals he directed with precision as he blended their tones and cadences with clean boom-bap drum arrangement, spaced out sounds and chopped up pianos.
The production on this Premo beat is crazy helping to elevate otherwise pedestrian MC’s for a few moments. Who wouldn’t sound great on a beat this good?
5. Jeru the Damaja “Come Clean“
Album: The Sun Rises in the East (1993)
After popping up on Gang Starr’s Daily Operation album, Jeru the Damaja started a career of his own with Come Clean serving as his first official single.
Above all, this one is really brought to life by Jeru the Damaja’s signature delivery and gritty flow leaving this DJ Premier beat not needing too many melodies. The overall sound of this beat is aggressive and it really puts you in that zone, it’s tough.
4. Notorious B.I.G “Unbelievable“
Album: Ready to Die (1994)
Biggie tracked down DJ Premier to grab a beat for his Ready to Die album and it’s a good thing. Because the project was nearly complete with Big sought Premo’s services.
This DJ Premier beat draws from unlikely sources as Premo took “Impeach the President” and “Your Body’s Callin'” and created a masterpiece. Due to Big’s untimely death, it’s a shame Big and Premo didn’t get to chef up more heat together.
3. Gang Starr featuring Nice & Smooth “DWYCK“
Album: Hard to Earn (1992)
You knew we couldn’t get through the best DJ Premier beats without touching on Gang Starr. The group’s catalog is filled with dope collabs with Premo. Gang Starr’s biggest party hit to date is “DWYCK”.
The song originally dropped in 1992 featuring clean bars by Nice & Smooth as well as Guru dropping a dope 16. Therefore, this DJ Premier beat hit extremely hard and was perfect for the summertime.
2. Nas “NY State of Mind“
Album: Illmatic (1994)
This is a really gritty instrumental that kicks off with a Joe Chambers. Match that sample combined with a sick bassline and off-key piano chords and it hits. Furthermore, the song had the soul of New York in it so it’s right that Nas hopped on it. This DJ Premier-produced record really put on for the city.
This is by far one of the best DJ Premier beats with part 2 nearly topping the original.
1. Gang Starr “Mass Appeal“
Album: Hard to Earn (1994)
DJ Premier always claims that this song came together as a joke and that’s ironic because the record’s no joke. This is the most definitive track of hip hop’s golden age due to Premo and Vic Juris sample.
One of the best DJ Premier beats, this one is still getting plenty of spins across the globe. Nothing will ever feel the same as spinning this one while roaming the streets of New York.
For another top 10 list, check out our list of the Top 10 Best Metro Boomin Beats