DJ Premier both shocked and elated Gang Starr fans when he unveiled One Of The Best Yet, the first new Gang Starr project since 2003’s The Ownerz. In addition to utilizing unreleased vocals from the late Guru, Preemo enlisted J. Cole, Q-Tip, Royce Da 5’9, Jeru The Damaga and more to contribute to the album.
But according to a new interview with Take It Personal Radio, there were several other notable MCs who he’d been eyeing for the project but ultimately didn’t make the cut, including Drake, Nas and Yasiin Bey.
“I asked Drake to get on it because I had just done ‘Sandra’s Rose’ for his [Scorpion] album,” he said. “So I was like, ‘You can get on this.’ But he was so deep into getting his touring together, it just wasn’t the right time to just knock it out real fast. I needed it done really, really [quickly], like yesterday at that time.
“Nas was supposed to get on it, but it wasn’t clashing right at the time. Honestly, Nas was like, ‘I’m just not in writing [mode]; I just have no writing in me right now. And if I’ma do it, I gotta kill it, ’cause I gotta sound as good as Guru. I just have no writing feels right now, so I just don’t wanna half-ass it.’ And I respected that.”
When Preemo got to Bey, he insinuated the MC formerly known as Mos Def simply dropped the ball.
“He was supposed to do it,” he said. “I kept stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him, and it never got done. I said, ‘You know what? He owes me.”
The storied producer also tried to get Kendrick Lamar on the project, but Dave Free explained, “He’s locked in, focusing on what he gotta do next.” Premier also said he was going to ask JAY-Z but never actually went through with it.
“I’m not gonna even approach him about it,” he said. “I’m just gonna keep it movin.’”
Listen to the full episode above.