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Prince Paul - conducted by Hugo Lunny & DJ Neoteric  

Prince Paul - Defining Musical Integrity

June 2005

Nobody can argue with how much of an impact Prince Paul has made on urban music, well that is unless you're extremely ignorant. From Stetsasonic to De La Soul, MF Doom, 3rd Bass, Gravediggaz and many, many more - the man has solidifed a legacy.

Creatively unmatched, Paul has assembled concept albums such as the Hip Hop-era - Prince Among Thieves and the Handsome Boys Modeling School.

Most recently, Prince Paul dropped an instrumental album, Itstrumental on Female Fun Records.

DJ Neoteric and I sat down to talk to Paul at length about this album and a variety of other things. Enjoy...

MVRemix: What are you going to do tomorrow (the Itstrumental release date) - what is the typical way Prince Paul handles an album being released?

Prince Paul: He handles it like every other day. He gets up in the morning, eats his oatmeal and he exercises because he's not a kid anymore and he looks at his desk, like what I'm doing now and goes "What am I doing?" [chuckles] That's usually it. There's nothing usually special. I don't have any big signings at the local Tower Records... I'm not going on tour with Nelly or anything. It's pretty quiet.

MVRemix: Were there ever any big celebrations on the day or was it always you wanted to keep it kind of low key?

Prince Paul: I do the record and I keep it moving. I wait to see what happens. Even from "3 Feet High & Rising" on, its always been like I get a call and people say "Wow, your record's here." Or, "Its been doing this..." I don't call the label and check on anything because I don't want my feelings hurt. I just wait to see what happens. If I hear something good about it, fine. If I don't hear anything about it, fine. If I hear something bad about it, usually I'm like "Oh god! Don't wanna hear anymore." It's pretty quiet, I wish I had something exciting to say... I pull my gun outside and I start shooting in the air and sexy girls come over the house. It's nothing like that.

MVRemix: Kind of following on from that, reviews and such - how do you respond when critics respond to your material negatively?

Prince Paul: If they talk negatively - of course it's gonna bother you. But I like at least negatively with an understanding of why. A lot of times I read stuff and it's negative reviews or negative opinions of something; it's obviously people that just didn't get it. Now if they got it, and they say the song still sucks, that's different. Or they review something that's totally off key than what they're trying to get at, then to me it's like "Okay, they just didn't understand it," and I can't really fault them too much. They were just being stupid. Other than that, I try to let it roll off my shoulders. But any artist would be bothered, at least somewhat.

MVRemix: How did the relationship with Female Fun come about?

Prince Paul: I met Peter (Agoston) through a few interviews he was doing for a few magazines and during the process of talking, he had mentioned that he had a label that he had put out. We have a mutual friend, that's Doom... He put out Doom's instrumentals and a few other people. So, he said if I was ever interested in doing that, he'd put it out. I never really thought about it too much. I was like, "Uh, I don't know..." An instrumental album is not really my thing. That's good for those other cats 'cause I feel like they have stuff that's a little more interesting. He convinced me to take some old instrumentals, whatever I'd got that might work and put it on an album. So I started doing that. Getting a lot of old beats I had and putting it together. But in the process, listening to the music I thought "Oh god, this is really bad. I need to make it interesting." In some form of fashion the hooks came up and the concepts came up.

MVRemix: But you did mention Doom. I guess you've known him for years now...

Prince Paul: Oh yeah, I was the first person to record him, I think. Yeah, "Gasface," yeah.

MVRemix: I wanted to ask about the "Guacamole" song. What happened with that?

Prince Paul: "Guacamole" song? What song is that?

MVRemix: Maybe the title's a bit off, was there not a recent track with Doom that went unreleased?

Prince Paul: I don't remember [chuckles]. Yeah, we did a song... I think it was me, him and Barman and we did a song that didn't come out. But I never knew what the title is.

MVRemix: We can file that under "Internet rumour"...

Prince Paul: That might have been it. That's old though, we did that two or three years ago.

MVRemix: Was there a reason why that didn't come out?

Prince Paul: It was just the music that we used was just too popular, so we never put it out. We didn't sample it, it was like an interpolation. Too much to clear, so it was easier to just put it out to the free world.

MVRemix: Since you guys have such a strong relationship, what's the possibility of projects in the future?

Prince Paul: Definitely. Me and Doom sat down and we talked about it. To me, when and if I work with Doom to any extent - I need to do something attached to something he's never done before because a lot of guys - you've got the Madlib album, he has one that he did with Dangermouse and a few other people. I think that's cool. But I think wherever I take him, I've got to take him to a point where it's just different. I don't want to make another "Doom with whatever the producer is," this is the producer's style. And this is how he interprets Doom. We have to re-invent ourselves totally and I think that's gonna be the next step.

MVRemix: Typically we've seen from you a concept album, you don't tend to throw out beats to just random people - you tend to do one really focused project. Is there a reason for that?

Prince Paul: Probably because my whole life is so un-focused [chuckles], if I at least made my records somewhat focused it might be a little easier. A big influence for me, growing up, was Parliament Funkadelic and a lot of those records that I grew up on were based on one concept. You have one where they're going into outer space and one where they're going under water - it kind of goes on and on. Listening to that and kiddy records, sometimes when I'm making a song, there's a few different perspectives on an idea that I have. Let's say we're making a song talkin' about girls. I could talk about girls, how they're sexy. Then I wanna talk about how evil they are... then I wanna talk about girls having babies. Next thing I know, it's a whole concept of girls because there's so many different aspects of it. That's a lot of it too, I try to hit all sides of it. It's easier too, when you're just focused on one thing.

MVRemix: Everyone that's into producing wants to know about what you use to make your beats and how you go about your process...

Prince Paul: [laughs heartily] Well there's no definite process. I don't go in and say I'm gonna start with a drum program, or I'll start off with a loop. It could be anything. One time when I was sleeping, I had this melody in my head, and for some reason in the dream it manifested to where it was this crazy beat. Of course, when I woke up it wasn't there, but I still had the melody in my head. So I ran downstairs and went on the piano and recorded it. Sometimes I'll go downstairs and I'll have in mind a kick and a snare and I'll start tapping. It all depends... maybe there's a loop or a sound I have in mind. So it varies. Usually a concept is what sparks the whole thing. I can sit down and think about guns shootin' off, the next thing I'm thinking "What would sound more menacing?" "A shoot-out!" This type of sound. And I'll take it from there.

As far as equipment is concerned - I use everything and anything. If I ran down stuff I use it would really vary, because on some songs I have an 808, a real 808. I've got the 808, a 909, an RZ-1, a DX. I've got a few rhythm machines. I still use the SP1200, the MPC2000. I still use the ASR-10. Sometimes I use my A-DATs. I record on Pro-Tools. For the Itstrumental album I recorded a lot of stuff onto 1/4 inch tape. Still use my 8-track TASCAM. It varies. It all depends on the sound I'm going for... If I want it nostalgic... If I want a certain smoothness. If I want it to sound a little particular maybe I'll just do it all on the computer. I just don't like using one piece of equipment to get a certain sound. I like to jump all over the place to get the mood that I want.

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"A big influence for me, growing up, was Parliament Funkadelic and a lot of those records that I grew up on were based on one concept. You have one where they're going into outer space and one where they're going under water - it kind of goes on and on."