In an interview with Billboard, DJ Premier exactly how the collaboration “Animals” with Dr. Dre for his Compton album came about.
How did “Animals,” your track on Compton, come together?
He was working on a different project — not for the movie [Straight Outta Compton], he just started recording again for a different project — so I was already sending him tracks because we spoke to each other last year.
He told me, “I want to start recording, doing some new music, and I want you to get involved. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them yet, but I’d love for you to send a few tracks if you have time.” I said, “Yeah, I’ll put something together,” and I sent him like three or four. One he liked right off the bat, and he said, “I’m going to work on this.” He told me, “I don’t have a set time for it, but I do want to do it.”
I went to Moscow earlier this year to work with, like, the top producer in Moscow, which I don’t do — I don’t need to work with any producers. The pitch was for me to get with a Russian producer, to use Russian samples and music, and then to have MF Doom rap on it. I was like, “Hell yeah,” because me and MF Doom had just done a song for the PRhyme deluxe album that’s about to be released. To get the opportunity to work with him on another project, with the producer in Russia, who goes by the name of BMB Spacekid.
When we were about to head out to Moscow, MF Doom fell ill and wasn’t able to come out, according to what they told us. I’m like, “Well, who are you going to get to replace him?” He said, “We’re going to get a singer instead of a rapper, Anderson .Paak.” I was like, “Who is that?” They asked if I was down to do it with him, and I said, “I gotta make sure I like him first, I’ve never heard of him.”
They sent me some YouTube links, and there was one called “Suede.” I saw Knxwledge doing the beat, and I know Knxwledge and his work on Stone’s Throw. So I already liked the track, and then I just loved the way [.Paak] looked in the video and his whole demeanor. I told them, “I’m totally in.”
Once we got out there, we recorded two tracks. The first one was the one that ended up on the Compton soundtrack — we didn’t have any vocals on it, it was just a beat. BMB [Spacekid] programmed the drums. I liked the way he laid it down, I found some samples and stuff I liked, I laid that down and programmed it to have the same bounce that I do, so it would have the Premier style of sound. That’s all we did to it — it had a couple change-ups, but mostly we left it alone and started working on another track.
The second track was more of a bounce record, which is already out, through Boiler Room TV. That’s how the whole project had come about, because I had done it with PRhyme, and [Boiler Room] was connected with people in Moscow, and they just wanted to show the process of me connecting with a producer in another country.
They wanted to go with the second track, which ended up being called “Til It’s Done,” which has already come out. The first track was just sitting on the back burner, to be used for whatever we wanted to.
When the whole Freddie Gray thing happened in Baltimore, Anderson called me and was like, “I’m real angry with what’s going on with the police, and I just wrote a song to that other beat. I want to sent it to you and see what you think — maybe we could leak it out, put it out in the streets and show that we’re angry too.”
When he sent it to me it was called “F.S.U.” — F— Shit Up. In the hook he’s saying, “Don’t come around these parts, the whole world thinks we’re animals/ The only way they want to turn the cameras on is when we’re f—ing shit up.” When he said that, I was like, “Yo that’s dope.” Anderson just happened to be going to a meeting with Dre — he had already done a few songs with him, through their management. Anderson’s from the West Coast as well.
When he told him he had a record with Premier that he did in Moscow, Dre said, “Let me hear it.” Once he played it for him, [Dre] called right away and said, “Yo, I want to do this song for my soundtrack. I decided to do a soundtrack album last minute, and I want to put it out with the movie.”
I said, “What do you want to do?” And he said, “I want to put a verse on it.” Like, shit, Dre rapping on a verse? Hell yeah. The song was already done, and I explained how it came about with BMB Spacekid. He said, “I’ll spit the verse and let you hear it and make sure you’re cool with it, and if so let’s add on to it. Come out to L.A. and we can add on a few more things to it.”
I flew out just to add a few more things to the production side with some of his musicians. A couple more vocals were added in the hook, Dre already had his verse down — even Talib Kweli showed up and put a verse on it. We’re not going to use it for the album version, but I told him maybe we can do a remix version and maybe add Common or somebody. That kind of commentary with police brutality and killing black men is totally up their alley.
Next thing you know, it’s on the soundtrack.