logo

Prince Paul (producer)

Words: Johnny "Jbutters" Mann

prince paul

Unreleased circa 2003

For the people who haven’t heard “Politics of Business” and gotten the sarcasm you were trying to convey please explain what you were trying to do with the album.

I just wanted to see people’s reaction to me doing a contemporary style [whether] they would base it on me doing it or would they base it on the actual quality of the music. Me personally I think the music is really really good, but I think the fact that I did it makes people shy away from it or automatically critique it as being bad. I’m sure if Memphis Bleek came out with the same music they’d be like “Oh it’s banging!” I wanted to see if I could push the limits. What I should have done is the same music but under a different producer name and I bet it would have been received a little differently.

I know you mentioned a few times in prior interviews that with this album you were spoofing what you called “fast food music.” Besides the obvious what were some of the more subtle things on the album that you were poking fun at that someone might not catch?

I think all my stuff was obvious like the Dre style tracks, the Neptunes style tracks, I bit some stuff from Timbaland, I had the Hot 97 hot station voice on there I thought that was so obvious, I thought the skit to begin with was so obvious with Dave Chapelle dissing my record. A lot of it to me was obvious in your face stuff, but it was just the concept of dissing the style of music on the music made it have more of a double edge to it. I guess in a way it was too much information, that’s just the way I am. It’s the way I make records. As I’m making something it’s like ohh this will be funny and I keep on adding stuff to it and sometimes it gets a little cerebral. I really make records for myself and I have since I started primarily because I never planned on making records this long or intended on making records at all. I never thought about longevity.

Considering the type of music that you were making fun of and the people who will listen to it and not necessarily catch the sarcasm at which point is it still funny and if no one gets it is it still funny?

Going back to myself I think its funny, it’s a shame I have to express it. Sometimes you’re hoping people catch the humor in it. All in all I think the album is really good [and] I think the music is really good. I think that because I made it it’s received differently. I if I go do a record where I’m playing a banjo backwards with some hiphop beats it will be like “Oh my god that’s crazy!” I knew if I tried to do something contemporary it would be a little insane, so as far as joking wise I’m wasn’t really trying to stress the joke I was trying to stress the irony. If I wanted to make a “haha” record I would have put a lot of blatant laughable things on there. The lyrics would have been more “haha,” but they are in a serious tone so I got lost on that as well. I was reading some reviews where it’s like Paul’s trying to make a joke, but the joke’s not funny and I’m like B that’s not it either. Nobody has caught it which is cool. It’s the same thing that happened to me when Gravediggaz came out ten years ago. [Critics] were like he’s trying to do horrocore and be on gangsta rap. I caught a lot of flack for that album and now ten years later kids screaming Gravediggaz, but where were ya’ll ten years ago when people were blasting me on it. Not saying ten years from now people will say the same thing about this, but it’s been kinda commonplace in almost all of my music. Not everybody likes what I do and I expect that.

I heard that Chris Rock bought the rights to make a movie of your last project “Prince Among Thieves,” but it’s been shelved. Do you think there is any chance for that to come out and how much influence would you have on how it would be put together?

Yea, there is a chance it’s going to come out. He two-wayed me during the tour and said they are starting to rewrite it. Me and him are pretty cool so as far as input I’m sure he’ll go over it with me first before he actually says it is what it is. He somewhat respects my writing because I helped put his albums together so there’s a lot of jokes we kinda co-wrote. He also tried to get me to write for his show but I never had the time so he respects me as a writer so I’m sure we’ll confer at some point.

I was wondering about that. What are some of the similarities going from producing hiphop albums to making a comedy album and what are some things that are so different between the two that you had to change your style to accommodate?

Comedy records are fun. I have fun making hiphop records, but hiphop guys are a little unprofessional. Comedians come in they do whatever, its not like they have to get their manager’s manager to sign this and I can’t come in unless I get twenty grand. Comedians come in laughing, do their part and when it comes to paper it’s like ahh don’t worry about it. It reminds me of when I made hiphop records in the 80s, everybody was there because they wanted to have some fun and now for the most part it’s like how much am I getting paid not necessarily what do you want from me or whether you’re a fan of my music.

In interview you were quoted as saying you used to be inspired by listening to the radio, but now your concepts tend to inspire your music. How do you avoid the trap of coming back to the same ideas and continuously find new things to inspire your concepts?

The world and universe is infinite. [In] rap, not to sound hateful, cats just recycle the same ideas and thoughts over and over again so for me to go outside of the box is very easy. It’s not like movies which span all different types of styles and genres. Rap only goes in so many directions, so I think with that said coming up with self inspiration and other influences around is pretty easy. I have more ideas jotted down than I have time in this life to be honest and hopefully my son can do some of those things. I have a bunch of things I want to do and I have yet to make my best record.

The reason I asked that question is because I’m taking a class in organizational theory and one of the ideas is that when you look at a situation you are only going to go with what you know and until you learn something else you’ll be trapped in that cycle. So as far as yourself I was wondering where do you gain knowledge from to keep yourself thinking outside of what you already know or have tried and not just the box of say hiphop.

You know what it is I’m not a business minded person. I am a creative person and creative people always go outside the box. When you talk about business and organizational management a business mind would do that and that’s why you get the Puffy’s and everybody they do really good because they generate the same things over and over again. As an artist the beauty of creating art and being a human being is to always challenge yourself. To do something over and over again besides having money as a fulfillment what else is there. I could have made a billion 3 Feet High and Risings and a billion Prince Among Thieves, but the fact that it has been done wouldn’t do anything for me. With that in mind then I think I would fall into the trap that you are talking about having nothing really inspire me and things start sounding alike. I think the difference is that I’m not motivated by money. I’ve always saved my money from when I started making records with the thought that I would never make money again.

Knowing everything that you know now what would be one thing that you would change as far as business moves in your career?

I think the first thing I’d tell myself is don’t trust anyone. There are very few people I trust in this business. It’s hard to go into a business with no morals when you’re a person with morals. So if I come to you with my hand extended and you have a gun out on me I’m not used to that, so it made me have to change my style and stockpile two guns to come back at you and that’s not me. I tried to see the good side of people, but that’s not the case its based on what can you do for me and when you can’t do that for the person then that’s it regardless of the fact you went to their house, played with their kids, or met their mom has nothing to do with putting food on their plate and that’s the bottom line for most people. It took me a long time to realize that.

Staying on your career how do you feel your production skills have improved over the years?

It all depends on the concept that I’m doing. I’m a little more aware of what I’m doing and the equipment that I’m using. If my concept is to make an old style record then I get the old equipment, but if my concept is to make a “hiphopera” then my production style has to change. It changes with the concept. None of the records since the De La records really sound alike just the concepts change.

I heard you have a new group called The Diks coming out. What’s the concept behind that?

We’re gonna put out an EP hopefully this year or next year called “The Art of Picking Up Women.” It’s self explanatory we have a lot of people in the group Peter O’Toole, Johnny Cochran, Magic Johnson, the names go on and on.

Lastly, I wanted to get your reaction on a lot of Native Tongues (Black Sheep and Jungle Brothers) hitting the road again on tour and Tribe coming back.

I think it’s maturing. We started off in the game and everyone was excited to be around each other and a lot of times the business and success kinda pulls you apart maybe because of jealousy or whatever, it could be a lot of things. When it comes back around especially when you go out on your own you have to realize what made you and kinda humble yourself and I think that’s what’s happening to a lot of these other guys. You have success and when things aren’t there like that it kinda brings you back together. It’s like with most people you make a lot of money you leave the hood because you can, but you’re forced to stay in the hood when you don’t have any money so you’re forced to be around each other and I think that’s what’s happening. It’s the same science. Not to dis anybody, but I’m willing to bet if everyone was multi millionaires it would be hard to get everybody back. However, when you peek up and things start to settle out you start thinking about what really made me and made hiphop fun for me and you realize the people who made you who you are.

Do you see a Native Tongues reunion in the future?

I don’t know you’d have to ask those guys. I was down, but I was an outsider. I was just a producer I wasn’t really in the group. I’m still trying to do another De La record so we’ll see what happens with that.

I’m sure a lot of people would be excited about that, are they open to that idea?

We talked about it a few years ago and they were like yea, yea, yea, but it’s hard to say with those guys though. Their like why don’t you do a song on the new album, but I’m like I’d rather do a whole album because it would feel better when you listen to the album from beginning to end with the same texture. I thought a lot of people would like that too, at least one more record.

Anything else you wanted to plug?

The Handsome Boy Modeling School record will be out next year on Elektra. It’s a lot more handsome this time, I changed my look a little bit. I had to refine myself because I’m getting a little older. Prepare for the new look.

Magazine:Unreleased
Date: December 27, 2012