Prince Paul on Business
by Roy "Moneyshot" Spencer
Prince Paul, one of the select few who can claim to have helped define the sound of an era. Prince Paul, a man with an album to punt. DJ Moneyshot, just the man to catch up with Paul to see what he’s been up to since Issue 2 and the release of Politics of the Business.
DJ Moneyshot: Let’s start at a leisurely pace: How many records do you think you own?
Prince Paul: Probably like 40,000—I had to put them in a storage space, it’s too many.
When you started to produce did you have an eclectic taste to begin with, or did you dig in the unusual crates in the record stores as you went, in an attempt to be different?
Initially my records came from my family’s collection so I picked stuff from there—I guess my eclectic tastes is just indicative of my personality, I didn’t decide to try to be different.
Do you still regularly DJ out, and if so how do you condense all your influences into one or two hours? Not to mention finding time for fresh tunes and your old and new productions.
Yes I still DJ—I loooove DJing. I don’t necessarily put every major influence in my DJ set but I do put records I like and that people can dance to.
Tell me everything about your new album.
Buying it is a good start, and have an open mind when you listen to it. Drink plenty of beer and smoke your favorite smoke, preferably in the nude—and it will all explain itself.
Has hip-hop lost its ability to tell stories?
Yes, for the most part it has. People don’t care about telling stories anymore, they care about making money.
Do you think hip-hop is a claustrophobic genre to work in? Or does its formulaic nature give you a desire to oppose it?
For the most part, it’s turned into that, but I’m a rebel at heart so regardless of what genre of music I was in I would rebel against it, or rebel against what people expect of me anyway.
What makes you laugh at the moment?
The Dave Chappelle Show.
Why “Prince Paul” as a name. Was it simple alliteration, the two Ps sounded nice? Or was it because you wanted to inherit the throne? If so have you succeeded?
If I wanted to inherit the throne I would’ve started out as King Paul and took over the throne. Stetsasonic thought my original name DJ Paul was too boring so they added Prince, I guess, to make it cool.
If you could time travel back to the Stetsasonic days and find the young Prince Paul, what would you rather give to him: records or advice?
Oh, advice because then I could advise him what records to get, and a whole lotta things to avoid—it’d be insane how rich I could be now if I had that advice then.
Do you prefer working closely with one group or artist developing their sound, or the diversity of inspiration a collaboration heavy albums affords you?
Probably the first one.
Commercially visible rappers like Nas and Missy are heading back to the classic, trusted breaks. Do you think that hip-hop production has gone full circle (like the snake that eats its own tail) instead of evolving?
People like to think that it’s evolving but Missy and Nas are a small minority in the scheme of hip-hop in general—I’m sure they won’t stick with it—it’s probably just for the moment.
Is each album a learning curve?
Yes, every album is a learning curve.
Do you think that an artist only has x amount of albums in them before they’re creatively spent?
Depends on the artist and it depends on what you define as artist—not everyone that makes records is an artist.
When was the last time hip-hop surprised you?
When I mastered my album.
Any final thoughts?
Please, please, please buy my record if you know what’s good for you.