DJ Premier was behind the boards for three of the tracks on Jay Z‘s classic debut album Reasonable Doubt. The legendary producer recently spoke to Ambrosia For Heads about the project and his first impressions of a younger Jay Z, revealing just how much Jay impressed him from day one.
“[DJ] Clark [Kent] reached out ’cause I knew [Dame] Dash, but not to the level of doing business with him,” Primo recalled. “Jay said he needed three songs and that Dash handled the business, so I dealt with Dash. I charged him $8,000 for three songs, and I was making around $20,000 to $25,000 a track for all productions at that time. But Jay was one of those guys where I’d say ‘I know you’re on the come up.’”
And Premier says that’s a policy he extended to other talented rappers prior to their breakthrough– like the Notorious B.I.G.
“I know what it’s like to have to start up and get to a point where you can afford to pay more. Same thing with Biggie. I charged him $5,000 for a track and then I said “when you start makin’ some money, I’m gonna charge you” and he said “absolutely.” Then he went platinum with Ready to Die I said “next time, I want $30,000” and he’d be like “here’s a check.” And, you know, Jay – same thing. When he got the Def Jam deal, they paid me like I wanted with no hesitation.”
“‘Friend or Foe’ was the next we did and it got to the point where when Jay heard those horns, he was like ‘yo, let me jump in the booth and record to that real quick,’” Primo says. “And he just started doing that verse and we was just like, ‘yo this dude is dope.’ I can totally relate to a drug dealer going to another drug dealer and saying ‘hey, you can’t move and set up here when I got these blocks on lock.’ And [Jay Z] did it so witty, and it was just so well done. And especially the ‘don’t ever ever ever ever come around here no more’…everybody knew Friday and Chris Tucker and that particular scene…he referenced things that everybody is familiar with and that’s the thing.”
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