Soren Baker, L.A.
Christina Aguilera receives musical assistance from an unlikely collaborator on her upcoming album, "Back to Basics," due in June via RCA. Gang Starr principal DJ Premier produced five songs for the project, which finds Aguilera paying tribute to the music that inspired her: soul, jazz and blues from the 1920s, '30s and '40s.
"It was kind of a shock because I was like, 'How the hell does she know about me?'" Premier recalls of his first conversation with RCA about the album. "I'm one of those guys that really doesn't expect pop artists to really be up on me. My first question was, 'What does she know about me?'"
It turns out Aguilera was familiar with some of Premier's jazz-influenced work with Gang Starr in the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially the song "Jazz Thing."
"It had elements of Miles Davis and Billie Holiday and little horn pieces," Aguilera says of the tune. "The way he combined that, I was like, 'Hm. I bet he would get where I'm trying to go with this record.' It was taking a chance. God knows if he would even do it because it was kind of his first time, I think, even venturing into the 'pop' world. I knew that it would be a different and new thing for him."
Aguilera says that her work with DJ Premier is new territory for both of them and continues her legacy of taking creative chances with her music. Likely single "Ain't No Other Man," produced by DJ Premier and Charles Roane, clocks in at 127 beats per minute -- most pop and rap songs rarely exceed 10 -- -and features energetic horn blares. Another song, "Thank You (Dedication to Fans)," finds Premier slicing up pieces of Aguilera's first hit, "Genie in a Bottle," and pairing them with voice-mail messages from Aguilera's fans.
These songs gave Aguilera the sounds she desired and allowed her to fulfill another one of her mandates. "The thing that I try to do with each record, I don't necessarily go to the main people that are the No. 1 chart-toppers in music," she says. "I really like to go left field, think a little bit out of the box and go with someone, maybe a little bit more obscure, that I really respect. Not to say that Premier is that, but just to say that I'm not going to go to the obvious person, say, the Neptunes, Pharrell or Lil Jon. I really like to go someplace different that people haven't approached."
(Love this bitch..it's about time she came back!)