DJ Premier Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

Mos Def “Mathematics” (1999)

DJ Premier: “That’s left field. I love that beat. Oh, my God. That’s straight gutter. You can’t front on me with that. I chop that shit up lovely. ‘I revolve around science/What are we talking about here?’ You know a lot of DJs cut and attach stuff now, but they ain’t doing it like me. And that’s not even to brag, it’s just scientific. It’s mathematical. Mos and I go way back. He used to be managed by my manager. He was in a group called UTD, Urban Thermo Dynamics, back then. His sister Ces, and D.c.Q, his brother, were all in the group. [Mos] is so bugged out, so I knew I had to make a bugged-out beat. ‘Mathematics’ is just so fucking funky. I remember I went to see Scarface at Enterprise Studio. They called it Enterprise because it looked like a spaceship. It was in a big, huge, movie-theater-type room. He’s in there working on one of his albums, and he was like, ‘You got some beats? Let me hear what you’re working on.’ I played him the beat for ‘Mathematics,’ and he goes, ‘Yo, I should have that! That’s what I want! When you do something with me, I want that! Don’t give me no down south whatever. I want that beat, and I will kill that.’ Scarface even met Mos Def and told him that he wanted that beat. But Mos is quick, man. He heard it, had his verse ready, went in there, and it didn’t take him much.”

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