DJ Premier maintains one of hip hop’s busiest schedules. In addition to his main gig with rapper Guru in Gang Starr, he’s a highly sought after DJ who’s produced for a wide variety of artists–from Arrested Development, Neneh Cherry, and Branford Marsalis’s Buckshot LeFonque project to rappers like Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and Das EFX. Celebrated for setting complex, funky beats within spare sonic scapes, he’ll eschew overused P-Funk samples in favor of anything from a free-jazz piano cluster to silky 70s soul jazz, enhancing the records of many rappers without drawing attention to himself. He won’t be performing with Guru at this rare live show; instead he’ll cut it up at the turntables for several proteges of the Gang Starr Foundation, his full-blown production team, and also spin between their sets. Particularly worth catching is Jeru the Damaja, whose 1994 debut, The Sun Rises in the East (Payday/ffrr), a stripped-down and scrappy bit of nongangster revisionism, comments on stock issues like racism and the denigration of women without the PC self-consciousness that laces most “alternative” hip hop. Group Home make their Chicago debut in anticipation of their debut album, expected in May. Their hot single “Supa Star” has been one of the hip hop underground’s biggest sellers these past few months. Thursday, April 20, 10 PM, Alcatrazz, 112 N. Green; 942-3006.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Hastings.