DJ Premier has been sewing samples together like a musical seamstress since at least the 1980s. As the beat magician behind Gang Starr classics such as “Above The Clouds” and “Mass Appeal,” Preemo clearly has an ear for molding legendary songs using a multitude of genres — but there’s one sample he couldn’t clear.
During a recent interview with LL COOL J’s Rock The Bells platform, Preemo talked about the one that got away. It happened when he and Guru were working on the Gang Star album Hard To Earn in 1994. They recorded a song called “Doe in Advance” using a sample of the Ohio Players single “Sweet Sticky Thing” and felt clearance was mandatory in this case because the loop was so recognizable.
“Obviously back then you’re dealing with mailing the song because you can’t just say, ‘OK, email the MP3 so we can hear it,’” he explained. “I really didn’t want it to be denied, so I asked if there was any way that I could talk to Diamond [Ohio Players drummer James ‘Diamond’ Williams] because I figured it was a long shot.”
Although Preemo was able to get Williams on the phone, the legendary musician wasn’t having it and flat out refused to give him the green light.
“He told me, ‘Man, I have all daughters, dude. Y’all are cursing on the song. I don’t want my daughters hearing those songs where they’re cursing on the record that I was a part of,’’ he continued. “I’m like, ‘But some your albums have naked women on them!’ Call it art. Call it whatever.’”
Premier lobbed numerous rebuttals in Williams’ direction, but he stood firm, something Preemo can laugh about now.
“It’s all good,” he said. “I got love and respect for Diamond. He’s one of the illest drummers ever. The Ohio Players are one of my favorites of all time. I ain’t mad at him no more. It’s a story now.”
Despite Williams’ refusal to let Preemo sample the song, he wound up using “Sweet Sticky Thing” on the Group Home single “So Called Friends” featuring Guru a year later — denial be damned.
“Sweet Sticky Thing” was originally released on The Ohio Players’ album Honey in 1975. The song spent a week at No. 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and peaked at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100. Outkast wound up sampling the track for the 1994 single “Crumblin’ Erb” from their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Ja Rule would later use it for the platinum-selling single “Down Ass Bitch” in 2001.
As far as “Doe In Advance,” at no point was the song cleared for Hard To Earn, but it did eventually make it out into the world. Check it out below.