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DJ Premier's Sonic Inspiration In Three Samples

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DJ Premier is a purist at heart. He picks samples based on feeling, and the beats he creates from them are all about honoring that vibe. That lineage has played out from his parents record collection growing up in Houston to his own expansive discography over the last 30 years.

The Formula is a five-episode series on the art of sampling in which acclaimed hip-hop producers show us how they find inspiration in classics, hidden gems, found sounds and other raw musical materials to create new hits. For each video in the series, NPR Music has also asked a writer we love to focus on an element of the video we've made and spin it off in a new direction — to sample it.

Read Hanif Abdurraqib's essay on the many literal and musical children of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, whose signature song formed the heart of one of Premier's best-known beats — Notorious B.I.G.'s "Kick In The Door" — here.

You can find all the videos and essays at


Host: Rodney Carmichael; Producers: Nick Michael, CJ Riculan, Maia Stern; Animator: CJ Riculan; Directory Of Photography: Colin Marshall; Editor: Maia Stern; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Tsering Bista; Audio Recording Engineer: Andy Huether; Audio Mix Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Production Assistant: Shanti Hands; Supervising Producer: Nick Michael; Senior Producer: Abby O'Neill; Consulting Editor: Jacob Ganz; Managing Editor: Becky Lettenberger; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey; Special Thanks: Alex Ariff, Bobby Carter, Charlie Ferguson


  • "It's All Because She's Gone," Steve Davis, Music (1970)
  • "The Planet," Gang Starr, Hard To Earn (1994)
  • "I Put A Spell On You," Screamin Jay Hawkins (1956)
  • "Kick In The Door," Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death (1997)
  • "Kung Fu," Curtis Mayfield, Sweet Exorcist (1974)
  • "Nice Girl, Wrong Place," Gang Starr, The Ownerz (2003)
  • "Rose Water", DJ Face [series theme track]
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