Perhaps motivated by the positive response to the D’Angelo episode of his YouTube series “So Wassup?,” revered producer DJ Premier takes an uncharacteristic turn away from hip-hop to once again show love to the R&B side of his decades-spanning career. This time he takes a trip down memory lane to the tune of a Janet Jackson cut.
On episode 9 of “So Wassup,” the former Gang Starr producer recalls his first foray into working with pop-star royalty on the remix to Jackson’s ageless hit “Together Again.” The second single from The Velvet Rope album, this one had many lives. One of those tunes spawning a multitude of alternate versions, Premier highlights in the episode that the song’s remix CD was like it’s own EP, tapping into all shades of Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty).
What Premier provided was a dramatic hip-hop feel for a song that is universally recognized as a dance music classic. Similar to how he approached his remix work on D’Angelo’s “Lady,” Preemo created two remix versions, coining the one that would go on to be used for urban radio the “100 In A 50 Remix” and its stripped-down sibling “Just Tha Bass Remix.” It becomes evident why, after hearing the thump that rings in with each chorus, accompanied by Premier’s signature heavy boom-bap drums and bells.
Preem describes one of his first times in the industry being fully star-struck when personally selected by legendary hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to contribute to the remix collection for his then label-mate Janet. He hilariously notes calling his mother for advice before declining a chance to DJ for her American Music Awards performance of the song, only to later redeem himself by DJing Janet’s UK album release party.
In an era where having a hip-hopped-out remix was vital to marketability, it’s clear that a star of Janet Jackson’s level didn’t need, but in fact, wanted DJ Premier’s specific talents to represent this side of her. As Janet preps us all for her upcoming documentary JANET, this episode serves as yet another behind-the-scenes appetizer to her life served up on a platter with Premier’s refreshing wisdom and wit.