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DJ Premier Breaks Down "I Gave You Power"

DJ Premier Knew Nas Classic "I Gave You Power" Would Be One of the "Illest Records Ever"

On the newest episode of DJ Premier's So Wassup? The Gang Starr DJ and producer breaks down Nas' iconic "I Gave You Power" from his sophomore album, It Was Written.

Adorned in his It Was Written 25th-anniversary t-shirt, Preem explained that Nas approached him saying that he needed a beat for a song that he was creating where he plays the part of a gun.

"He didn't know if he was gonna narrate it or what," Premier said. "He knew that he was going to talk about being a gun and being used in bad ways, and at the temporary time it was called 'Gun.' While he was contemplating how he was gonna structure the song, I didn't have the beat ready yet, all I had was a drum pattern."

Premier explains that while Nas was structuring "I Gave You Power" he also wanted a beat for "New York State of Mind II."

"I'm like nah, certain classics you don't touch, but we really really pulled it off."

quotes
I knew when I got to this stage that this would be one of the illest records ever done, with an MC like Nas being able to turn a gun into a thinking weapon.

- DJ Premier

While speaking of the end of "Street Dreams," the song that preceded "I Gave You Power," Nas said that he needed a transition between the two songs.

"He said at the end of "Street Dreams," lets connect it where there's a shooting or something and guys are bragging about how they shot somebody and then they tossed the gun. Then someone else picks it up and the gun starts to speak in Nas' voice of what the situation is. I knew that I needed a sad piano on Nas' intro, and I found a dope piano that I looped. I knew when I got to this stage that this would be one of the illest records ever done. With an MC like Nas being able to turn a gun into a thinking weapon of how it feels to be misused."

Premier pushed aside talk of the sophomore curse and the pressure to follow up a classic — he says It Was Written was just as good as Illmatic.

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