Prince Paul: The Scent of Royalty
In the presence of Prince Paul
A deep female friend of mine once said that artistic greatness is just like strong personal scent; that those who possess it are the ones who least can perceive it. Distinct and pleasing aromas that can bring back a thousand memories, comfort, stimulate the senses, and drive lovers wild are often completely unknown to the one bearing them. And so similarly, it seems to be that some of the most undoubtedly gifted and talented artists are the ones most unaware of their own brilliance.
This metaphor applies to the exceptionally affable and celebrated hip-hop producer Prince Paul perfectly. Undeniably accomplished and influential, his aural highness is the most strikingly modest musician I have ever met. It’s like the man is so drenched in high end cologne that he just can’t smell it.
The valuable thing about this type of innate modesty is that it tends to lead an artist away from complacency and ego, and keep pushing them to create – which is something that can certainly be said for Prince Paul. Always experimenting, moving forward, and showing new sides to his unique personality. From his days of talking jazz with Stetsasonic, and of goofing around plug tuning with De La Soul, to digging deep in session with the Gravediggaz, moderating the musical curriculum of Handsome Boy Modelling School, getting “cerebral” on solo projects, to his latest Negroes On Ice ventures with son DJ P.Forreal, Prince Paul has proved that there are many tenets to his mind and creative abilities.
Multi-faceted artists like Prince Paul can also connect with fans on a truly deep level. By expressing the various sides to your person through music, listeners are able to relate to your work from all different angles. Whether in the mood to be silly, vent frustration, make love, or just move your body, there is sure to be a Prince Paul record somewhere in the crates that is tuned into your wavelength.
Negroes On Ice is in itself like a fantastical exploration of one kid’s head. Entering P.Forreal’s mind to ride fast-paced streams of consciousness and experience his vivid and quick-witted imagination, all of which is scored and enhanced by dope beats and a starry array of guest features. In light of this month’s Negroes on Ice audio release, here is a conversation I had with the man himself in New York City earlier this year, when I was lucky enough to bask in the scent of royalty on Broadway…
Tell me about Negroes on Ice and how touring the show was?
Touring was fun. It’s a one man, well actually it is multiple men, but mostly it’s a one man show. It’s my son at the forefront, and I more or less do the music. We have a little banter back and forth, and there are sound effects as he talks in real time. He has a friend named Talent who is an MC and part of the show as well; he chimes in and rhymes for some things.
We originally did it a while ago in New York at the UCB Theatre to test it. Time went on and it took us another year to come out and do it again, so we had to re-write a lot to make the story more interesting and work out the dialogue between me and my son. What it sounded like when we started changed a lot because we had to work on some of the jokes and the delivery of the story-line. It was a lot of fun to do. There are a lot of people in it too, a lot of guest features. Some of the sound-bites and voices we have in the play are: Ice T, Chris Rock, Peanut Butter Wolf, Freddie Foxx, Erick Sermon, Rosie Perez, Soce, the elemental wizard, Breeze Brewin’ from the Juggaknots – there are a whole lot of people on there! We’ve been working on it for the last two years, and everything changes and evolves as time goes on.
It was the first time that we had ever done that, and I really had nothing to base it on. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it, so we kind of had to make the whole thing up as we went along. I’m pretty excited and curious to see what the public at large thinks about the audio. The play itself was interesting, as we got a lot of different reactions. Some people would think it was the greatest thing ever, and some people thought we were destroying theatre. It was all over the place. So…I’m curious.
Are you looking to tour the show anymore?
Yes, the idea is to travel it. The shows are fun, and I give it to my son because there is a lot of dialogue to remember and he pulls it off. He’s a big ham. It’s easy for him – the way he can get on stage and do that? I couldn’t do it.
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