Bulletin Board Archive

Topic: Hip Hop 101: Interview with The Legendary Prince Paul

  1. Aug 12, 2005 02:36am by NRG - livin the art that is life ! www.64111clinic.com fam www.nrginmotion.com massage www.myspace.com/nrginmotion world community Location: havenhouse KCK/ 64111 Clinic 4 Life
    By William Hernandez www.uannetwork.com If there is ever an award for the most misunderstood and underappreciated artist in Hip-Hop it would go to DJ/producer Prince Paul. Prince Paul started DJing back in the late 1970’s. He was inspired by the wide choice of music Afrika Bambatta played. In the mid 1980’s Prince Paul was recruited to be the DJ for Hip-Hop’s first live band, Stetsasonic. Paul’s luck would forever change when a trio of fellow Long Islanders, De La Soul, asked him for input and help on their demos. With De La he had the chance to experiment and do things musically that he never had the chance to do with Stetsasonic. He did production work for several songs on De La’s debut the classic 3 Feet High & Rising. Thus, Prince Paul the producer was born. Prince Paul as a producer is as leftfield as you can get. While most of his peers were doing boom bap production style during the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was sampling not just funk, but obscure records such as the theme music from the Batman series of the 1960’s. After working on De La’s debut album he went M.I.A. only appearing to do certain remixes and tracks for select artists such as Cypress Hill, 3rd Bass, BDP and Big Daddy Kane, just to name a few. Then in 1993 he hook up with the RZA and emcees Poetic (R.I.P) and Frukwon for the Gravediggaz project which revealed his darker side. Since then Prince Paul has kept busy working on concept driven albums such as Prince Among Thieves, Handsome Boy Modeling School 1 & 2, Politics Of The Business, and his most recent project Itstrumentals. I had the pleasure to interview this legendary artist. Talking to him made me feel as if I was talking to a long lost friend. I’d like to thank Peter Agoston of Female Fun Music for hooking this interview up and Prince Paul for letting me pick his brain for that half an hour. UAN: How did your new album Itstrumentals come about? PP: It’s crazy! Peter interviewed me for Politics of the Business. He mentioned he had a label that he was trying to get off the ground. Eventually, while staying in contact, he asked me “Why don’t you do an instrumental record for us?” I’ve never done that before. He said “Take whatever instrumentals you have; some old stuff whatever the case is.” I said “maybe I’ll try that.” I started putting the record together, and then I realized if I put straight up instrumentals that might be kind of boring. I started putting concepts around each instrumental piece. It became all these throwaway records that I made from the 80’s, 90’s to the present. That started taking shape. A lot of it is based on music I would make for myself or play for people and they would look at me and frown, and go “Yo! What is this crap?” (Laughter) I like it. I might as well make something out of it. Believe it or not, after I listen to the record when it’s done, even though it’s not commercially out there like that, I can say that it’s probably one of my favorite records at this point. UAN: How do you go about clearing samples? PP: Samples is definitely crazy, historically I’ve always had problems clearing samples. That’s why now a days sampling for me is just limited. I see some things we sample and you can technically chop it up and kind of make it your own. Since the law has made sampling totally illegal, it makes us the producer guys use the technology a lot more. Sampling is very expensive man. You try to clear something; they try to charge you your whole album budget. Some samples I’ve tried to clear come in the tens of thousands of dollars. I’m like “You got to be kidding.” (Laughs) I don’t make dough like that. It’s not worth it. UAN: How did you get with the RZA back in 1993 to do the Gravediggaz album? PP: As far as RZA is concerned we did demos in the 80’s. I’ve known him for a while. Probably around the time I did 3 Feet High and Rising was when I met RZA, well he was Prince Rakeem back then. We worked on a few things and somewhere around the line he got a deal with Tommy Boy and he did that “Oh We Love You Rakeem” record. After that I didn’t hear from him. Then I was able to get his number. This is before Wu-Tang came out. I told him “I don’t know if you’re still rhyming or whatever, but you’re one of the best emcees I’ve worked with.” Let’s get together and pull our talents. I got two other guys which was Poetic and Frukwon. Let’s try to make something collectively. Because individually we’re all been having a hard time, I was losing my steam with De La. People didn’t really get the album De La Soul is Dead. I tried to pull everybody’s talent. We started putting Gravediggaz together in 1992. RZA had put out Protect Your Neck independently and that started to take off during that time. It all kind of worked out. Then he became the RZA as opposed to Prince Rakeem (laughs). UAN: I’m going to name you a couple of songs you produced and I want you to talk to me how they came about? Me, Myself & I by De La Soul PP: I’m a big Funkadelic fan. I have been since the 70’s when I was a kid. I based a lot of what I’ve done with De La on Parliament Funkadelic. In the process of making the album 3 Feet High and Rising it was the last song that we got to. Tommy Boy was like, “The album is great, but we need a radio record.” I’m like, “I don’t know what a radio record is.” (Laughs) I’m still a kid making records, producing. I’m not a marketing guy. Maceo from De La was like we should use Nee Deep and I’m like, “know what you’re right.” I went to the board using Parliament Funkadelic records, but I wanted to use the whole concept behind it. We got together and put it together. They were very reluctant. They did not want to do that record. To this day I think they still hate performing it even though it was a big record for us. It went against what they stood for which was making a commercial record. That record kind of put them in a bigger scale. UAN: Derelicts of Dialect by 3rd Bass PP: You know it’s funny, nobody brings up that record. That record is an unspoken record. People mention quirky remixes I’ve done historically, but nobody ever mentions Derelicts of Dialect (laughs). Thank you for even mentioning that record. It was a little different because at that point 3rd Bass had a lot of success with The Cactus Album, it went gold and it was still selling. It was like “Okay Paul, we want you to produce some more songs for the next album we’re doing. Instead of doing two songs, we want you to produce a few more.” This time it was different for the fact that in the first album I told them what to rhyme over, which were Brooklyn-Queens and The Gas Face. This time around they more or less selected a bunch of beats that I made and Derelicts of Dialect was one of the beats that they took. That’s the way that they flipped it. It’s not really any major story behind it, because I had less control actually on the 2nd album as opposed to the 1st one, but it was all music. I happened to like it and that song was really crazy at the time. It was dark and it had a vibe to it. Personally, they flipped it. UAN: Latin Lingo (Prince Paul remix) by Cypress Hill This girl named Franchesca was doing work with Rush Management and she told me, “Cypress Hill wants you to do a remix for one of their songs.” I was like, “I love Cypress Hill.” At that point DJ Muggs was getting his production thing, I guess, up to par. I listened to Latin Lingo. They gave me a copy of it. I was like, “Wow this is really a challenge!” I found something that worked with the whole vibe they were doing. The only thing bad thing about that record was I mixed it a certain way. But whoever mastered it made it sound horrible, sonically speaking. It had too much bass, no mids. The song would have been so much better if it would have been mastered properly. UAN: I’ve noticed you from all of your albums Psychoanalysis, Prince Among Thieves, Handsome Boy Modeling School 1 and 2, Politics of the Business, to Itstrumentals, there is always a theme behind them. Why? PP: One, It’s an outlet to put out a lot of those records. I have records that have come out on the majors. For example the Handsome Boy records that came out on Atlantic, which is great because it gives me a good amount of exposure due to the fact that I have a machine that runs it, that has money that can put me out there that can promote me properly. That is important especially now a days. I did the Chris Rock record that came out 6 months ago on Universal. That is good because it gets me out there on that level. But the beauty of it is even when you are someone like Peter (Agoston) who has no money or Mr. Len who really has no money either to put out records who ask you if you would like to put out a record. Two, you have the freedom of doing whatever you want to do. I think as an artist you should be able to express yourself without having limitations. Putting out records commercially you’re limited because you have to cater to a larger audience. Because that company needs to make X amount of money to survive and if you don’t make that X amount of money you’re no longer down with them anymore. With these bizarre records that I do, it allows me to be really creative and go out on a limb, test my skills as well and also see if there is another audience out there. Because right now there is only but so much music that is out. The listeners are getting cheated. As a listener you’re getting cheated. I try to push the boundaries. If you look at the 70’s and 60’s you had bizarre records out like Stripperoubics. (laughs) Some crazy kiddie records or comedy records with music in the background, you don’t have that. Your variety is limited. I try to give people a choice at least. UAN: I heard you’re going to do one more record and then you’re calling it quits. Is that true? PP: I’m sincerely thinking about. I think people didn’t really understand what I’m talking about. I’m going to do one more Prince Paul record such as Politics or Prince Among Things. I’m probably going to do one more of those and maybe after that somebody would want me to do music for commercials, movies, maybe an artist here and there. But I don’t think I’m really going to pursue it on a higher level. I’m going to keep it simple. I’m starting to feel as though as an artist you want to feel relevant. I feel like I’m not sure if what I’m doing people really care anymore. I like to make music to kinda just open peoples’ eyes and shake them up and have them realize that there is more sounds out there than what is offered to you. If people aren’t willing to hear or care, who am I making music for? I don’t want to be that guy that keeps on coming out like I’m trying to force my sound on you. As time goes on it gets worse and worse and people are like “He’s corny he should’ve ended it along time ago.” I want to end it off on a high. I think the last Prince Paul album I make hopefully will be the best. For more info on Prince Paul check out: www.princepaulonline.com & www.femalefunmusic.com