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Prince Paul is still making a name for himself: Part 2

Past. Present. Future.

[Part 2 of 2]
Part 2 of the interview with Prince Paul, the most creative producer in hip-hop...


 

[more:]
Prefix Magazine:
Do you ever look back on your career and think, Damn I should have done that differently?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Ah, man. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, I'm kind of happy where I'm at now. A lot of questions from interviews I get, like How do you feel about Timbaland getting all this money? and You were once this guy in the forefront and now you're this underground dude. How do you feel? I'm happy. I'm content. I make a body of work that people seem to like. I've been doing what I want to do for a while. I can super-size my Big Mac meal. I'm comfortable and I like that.


I'm at a place where I can walk the streets and people don't attack me, but maybe one out of every 10 people will go, that's Prince Paul. That's good enough. I still get recognition, but it's not unbearable. It's a happy medium I have now and I'm still working. Just think of how many of my peers have been around. "Man, what's he doing?" "Oh, he's doing construction." That's what a lot of rappers get into. "He's in construction. He just made this demo, he wants to holler at you." So, I'm like man, I can't complain and I've invested my money pretty well so far. I'm not hurting too much. I'm cool.

PM:
Who do you think of when you think of your audience? Do you want the Hot 97 crowd buying your music?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
It would be nice financially and it would be nice because, for the moment, they would think I'm a genius and they would give me a Soul Train award or something. "Oh, he's hot. He's making this meaningless music that sells a whole lot. But since he's sold a whole lot he deserves an award." Or maybe a Sammy Davis Jr. Achievement Award. They'll give me something because I made this booty song, but not because I made a body of work. That'd be nice to put on the mantle and stuff.

But that audience is so fickle. As fast as they like me, that's as fast as they dislike me. I could never chase after that audience. That's why I kind of got upset when I was reading things like, Oh, he's trying to get this audience.' I'm like B -- realistically I've said this a million times over -- I'll never get that audience. They don't accept me and I know that. For you to think that I would sit down and logically think, Man, Hot 97 is going to play this Prince Paul record in heavy rotation, BET is going to want me to host 106 and Park, is insane. They're not thinking about me. I was making fun of the music and that's what I've been doing. I don't want that audience. They're not loyal.

C'mon man, Sisqo sold a billion records with "The Thong Song," and the next record came out and nobody wanted to hear him. Did they really like Sisqo or did they really like that record? Shaggy sells a billion copies of his album and the next record comes out and maybe sells a million. I don't know what it sold. But it wasn't close to that first album sold. They just liked him for that single, but do people like him for him? Few people do. They like him, but the mass audience doesn't. And I want people to like me for me, whether good or bad. Which maybe it's too much to ask for sometimes.

PM:
You've done a lot of projects. I'm just going to rattle them off to see what the status is, 'cause people want to know. Paul Barman. De La. Gravediggaz. Handsome Boy Modeling School. What's still in the works?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Okay. Gravediggaz no longer exists, especially since Poetic passed away. It wouldn't be right and nobody's head is really there anymore. De La: me and Pos have been two-waying each other for the last week or so, and I've been trying to talk them into us doing an album together. At least one more. I don't necessarily want to do a whole bunch of them, but I think for us to work on a record exclusively with no outside producers, just De La and Prince Paul again, I think it would be great for both of us creatively and just financially [Laughs.]

Paul Barman, I still talk to him. I think he's looking for a deal now. I told him I might want to do his entire next record. I'm not sure yet. Depends on timing. Handsome Boy Modeling School: I'm working on it right now, me and Automator. We're on Elektra, and hopefully they won't drop us. And we should have an album coming out next year or they might drop me. They might keep Dan. [Laughs.] They like Dan; he makes money. Paul, he's a little suspect. I think even more passionately. Oh, Stetasonic: that's done been -- so done.

But what I'm passionately working on now is my next album, my next Prince Paul record. I've started doing the music already and I'm really, really excited about that. That's kind of where my heart's at right now. Even though I know it won't be out. I don't even know if I'll have another album out. Who knows? It sounds like I'm joking, but yo, the way the business is now, you can be dropped any minute. If, given the opportunity of having another record on this label, I have a record that I think thus far musically I like a whole lot. And I know the direction I'm going to go is something I'm really excited about and more so than most of my other records I've done. It's like the early stages. There's a certain feel that I'm doing on this. It's more about feel than it is technical quality or more about what audience it's pleasing.

The whole concept of this record is you listen to it and you like it, but you don't realize why you like it. And that's what I'm going for. And the EP I'm doing with this group called the Dix that I've been working on for the last year. I'm close. I got two more songs to go. I just can't seem to get it done because time won't permit me. It's an EP; I was gonna do an album; but I don't have time for that.

PM:
People are still waiting for that De La/Prince Paul reunion.

Prince Paul: Part 2:
I'm waiting for that.

PM:
To me it's just not the same without you in the mix.

Prince Paul: Part 2:
It's the chemistry. It's like any good thing. I can't take 100 percent credit and they can't take 100 percent credit. It's like a marriage that worked well. I'm the silly guy and I come in with my point of view, which forces them to experiment and test themselves more, which forces them to come to the table with something quirky. And it just made us come up with different sounds and ideas and stuff and not being scared to do them.

I don't know. I just think we're at a point in our careers that we've done enough stuff on our own. Whatever successes we might have had alone, I think it's just time to at least collaborate on one more album. I mean just one. I've been trying to convince them of that for the last two years, maybe even three, and I never really get a straight answer. I always get a, "Oh yeah, that'd be cool."

So, I think if the kids write in or demand it or whatever, more so to them maybe, they might be more apt to come to me, as opposed to me coming to them all the time and approaching them with the concept.

PM:
It seems like you've been plugging your Web site, www.princepaulonline.com, a lot. What role is it going to play?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
It's far from even being done. What I wanted to do was sell a lot of things that I can't get released in general. There are a lot of unreleased tracks I've done throughout my career, from Stetsasonic to date. Stuff that people never heard, and I want a vehicle to put out quirky mix CDs and music that people haven't heard before and just sell merchandise and inform people of certain things that I'm doing. Just to see what the topics are and see what the feedback is. Does Prince Paul suck? Do people like me? Not that I care -- I mean I care -- but I won't let that shape how I make my next record. I'm always curious to see what people think, and with me there are a lot of pros and cons. There are a lot of both. People they either really like me or they really don't. It's good to kind of see what's going on in people's heads.

PM:
Who would you say you're really feeling in terms of production lately?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Neptunes. Hands down. For a while. Not to the point where I'm like, Man, I'm gonna do records like the Neptunes. But to the point where I respect them a whole lot, because musically, they can do stuff that's pretty simple but very catchy, and then they can do stuff that's very complex. Their arrangements are from the '70s, and people are like, This is so great. But they're just using tried and true techniques from back in the day. And I like that.

PM:
Are those guys you talk with regularly?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Nah. Not at all. I met them one time at Irving Plaza. I think they were performing that night, I think I was there with Automator. Just briefly. I made a fool of myself. I was like, "Oh my god. I love your record. That N*E*R*D album is incredible. I'm a big fan. Oh wow." There's no shame in my game. If I'm a fan, I'll let you know. I think their response was, "Wow. Thanks." [Laughs.]

PM:
You're a big television fan, right?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Yeah, when I get a chance to watch.

PM:
Do you watch the "Making the Band" series with Puffy?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
I've seen a little. I don't catch them the first time, but I catch them when I'm flipping the channels. Like, wow. "Making the Band" is on. But I don't catch them in sequence. I catch them here and there.

PM:
Do you have any thoughts on the show?

Prince Paul: Part 2:
Man, it's just amazing what people will do for a record deal. Maybe I'm saying that because I'm on the other side of the fence. I've been making records so long it's like, ah man. But, sometimes I wonder if it's them selling their souls, 'cause it's not really them reflecting themselves as artists or what their direction is. It's them wanting to make it. If you look at "Making the Band," if you look at the kids individually, a lot of them don't get along, 'cause they don't respect each other. So that's one reason, it's hard to make a group out of people that don't even respect each other, let alone their talents. Nobody goes, "Yo, he's ill." Everyone is like, "Nah, I'm better than you." So, that's one reason. That's a time bomb and Puffy knew that, so it makes good watching. So, he's brilliant in doing that.

A lot of these kids aren't repping who they are. They're repping a band concept, to make money. So as an artist they're really saying, not "I don't care about the art," but "I'm just more worried about making it than showing who I am." 'Cause it's not really them when you see them making a song. It's not really what they say they want to do. (It's as if they're saying,) "This is my chance to make it to make records," and I think that's what everybody -- not everybody, I'm being drastic -- but that's what most people's perceptions of the music business now. It's about making it and not about the art behind it. This is how I feel. It has nothing to do with how you feel anymore; it's about making money. That's why all the music sounds alike. It's like, man, everything sounds the same 'cause everybody's concerned about making it or keeping their job, which is smart, because everyone wants their job.

"I can't let them drop me man. Let me get Whoever to produce it and get Whoever to sing the hook. 'Cause I just need to make it!"

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