Chelsea Market opened its doors to some of New York's most notorious music talents last night, as film and music buffs gathered to catch a sneak preview of Amir Bar-Lev's new toe-tapping documentary, "Re:Generation."
DJ Premier, listed by The Source as one of "the top 5 producers in hip hop history," appeared alongside the award-winning filmmaker Bar-Lev ("My Kid Could Paint That," "The Pat Tillman Story") in a Q&A before hitting the turntables himself. The invite-only crowd, featuring an eclectic mix of sleek scenesters, hip hop impresarios, and grungy music journalists, was treated to live performances by Premier, rocker and vice presidential nephew Jamie Biden, and DJ pair AndrewAndrew. Hyundai, who sponsored the film, supplied booze, Pop Burger sliders, and tricked-out cars complete with do-it-yourself turntables and video game systems.
"Re:Generation" follows 5 of the industry's biggest DJs and producers as they form cross-genre pairs with other musical titans: producer Skrillex created an original piece with the remaining members of The Doors, electronica performer Pretty Lights collaborated with LeAnn Rimes, and DJ Premier brought Nas along to the Berklee School of Music Orchestra, where they not only dropped beats -- they picked up batons.
Jamal Munnerlyn, the West Coast editor at Vibe Magazine, moderated the Q&A, where he asked DJ Premier what he took away from his work on the film.
"Education," said Primo, who added that learning how to conduct an orchestra was an eye-opening experience. "I didn't know that when you wave a baton that you have to go across, down, left, right," he explained. "I have a different respect for anyone that touches any instrument whatsoever." Playing with the orchestra inspired him, as well. "It actually wants me to go take a violin class," he admitted, "just to get better at what I do."
Before the interview gave way to a dance party, Amir Bar-Lev issued thanks to Preem. "Just to be a fly on a wall, and to watch people practice their craft, is really an honor," he said, recalling the moment when he found out the Grammys, whose committment helped cobble together the musical pairings, had tapped DJ Premier to anchor the film.
With the pomp and circumstance over, the producer did what he does best -- mixing old-school hip hop with whatever genre he wants. The crowd grooved to everything from Biggie to Aerosmith, including the track Premier and Nas laid down with the the Berklee Orchestra. Those not dancing sipped on their ridiculously strong vodkas (thanks for the hangover, bartenders), checked out the venue's off-the-wall art collection, and played with the XBox installed in the back of a brand-new Hyundai. Note to party planners: if you want to impress car-starved New Yorkers, just turn your venue into a showroom. They'll have fun.