Charged from a ten-year-plus run in a business as forgiving as the Supreme Court, Prince Paul has seen it all — from his underrated days as Stetsasonic’s DJ to forming his own failed Def Jam subsidiary imprint (oh, the Doo Dew Man Records) and his long-running, now-defunct relationship with Tommy Boy (for whom this album was originally recorded). What’s there not to say about Paul? His cultivation of De La Soul’s first 3 albums, his conceptualization with RZA, Stet-man Frukwan and the late Poetic on The Gravediggaz poorly treated albeit masterfully
created 6 Feet Deep. Let’s not forget the indie-turn-major
, which would ultimately lead to the reinvention of Prince Paul for this new generation of the hip-hop world we live and breath in today. Paired next to Handsome Boy Modeling School and
, two wildly conceived, conceptual entities both embraces and displaced by many.
But here we go. He’s got a brand new one out and no one knows what to do with it. Kiss or diss, kiss or diss? The press has had a hard time embracing the project as a whole, the production, it’s not Prince Paul-like. The songs, they’re not very Prince Paul-esque. The skits, hey, those are definitely on some Prince Paul shit (read: “Princepaulonline.com”, “The Drive By”). Now that everyone can agree upon. But the most important element of all Prince Paul projects is what’s being overlooked here. The parody. Did people actually think Spinal Tap was a group? Well then, no it was parody. As is this.
Politics of the Business could be seen as Prince Paul’s revolt in the form of hip-hop hilarity, a literal impersonation of a rap industry gone awry in the form of a bizarro rush-hour urban-contemporary broadcast. Literal in the sense that while its songs are well produced and packaged with some incredible vocal collaborations, the sense of mockery toward the popular rap lexicon (read: urban radio) is at times overwhelming. From collaborations between Guru and Planet Asia (“Not Trying To Hear That”) and Kokane and Masta Ace (“So What”) to Tash Of The Liks with the Beatnuts (“Chryme Pays”) and, better yet, MF Doom paired with Chubb Rock and Wordsworth (“People, Places, and Things”), the producer spares no effort in gathering an overwhelming slew of upper-echelon guests. Speaking through them all in an undertone of rap industrial disgust.
Didn’t have any singles? Tommy Boy snaps, the answer, an album full of wanna-be singles. Just like almost every other rap album that sells over 10,000 copies these days. Listeners heed the words of Chuck D and Ice-T on the brief title track: “you can’t just say ‘fuck the music business’, you gotta understand the business and get in where you fit in.” Putting together the pieces of hip-hop he finds puzzling we continue.
“Drama Queen” finds Dave from De La with old buddy Truth Enola in one of the more Prince Paul-typical sounding efforts, in a painful ode to the everlasting strain a music career can place upon relationships. Waifty synths ride atop the pleasant pairing of the complementary associates. A similar outcome bubbles from the album’s one unknown artist W. Ellington Felton and his “Beautifully Absurd”. Felton who Paul met after a show in Washington D.C., got a ride and demo from him and soon received a call-back to re-craft the folksy lovesick parable. Boogie Down Productions drums bodyguard the twinkling chord progression (by K. Alyn), as Felton delivers an impressive projection and heart-felt painting.
So, you’re still down and out coz you can’t see the punchline? Then listen to some old De La, Paul’s obviously surpassed your sense of humor. But then again, when did we start listening to rap albums for shits and giggles as much as noggin nods? I think it was sometime around after 3 Feet High and Rising dropped. Hmm…
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