18 September, 2012@9:39 pm
HHS: First off, what is the concept behind your new album Negroes On Ice…? Didn’t it start out as a theatre show of some sort, like a comedy/sketch show…?
PRINCE PAUL: The concept is kinda like a day in the life of my Son, obviously it’s highly exaggerated, it’s more or less like a story that builds into music and goes into the story, almost like A Prince Among Thieves but this is more like a one man show type of thing where he kinda gets up and just tells everything about what his day is like, it’s like a bizarre exaggerated day in the life of a teenager. To be honest it’s really stupid… it’s just bizarre. It’s really hard to describe, some people listen to it and think it’s great, some people listen to it and think I’m ruining Hip-Hop and here, there and everything else so we’ll see.
HHS: So is your Son, DJ P. Forreal, the main MC on this project…?
PAUL: Umm, well actually we have a few other MC’s but he kinda splits it half and half with the other guys. He doesn’t really rhyme, I kinda made him rhyme by default you know, when we came to do this we didn’t have the budget so he was forced to rhyme some of the stuff, it’s difficult because he can’t rhyme so it was horrible, horrible times but we got through it, made it work haha.
HHS: I heard the “Textual Healing” track and didn’t think the rhyming was bad…
PAUL: Yeah I mean, what people don’t realise you know… well actually he did that one pretty quick but a lot of the times on the album it’s like a billion takes, you know like “do it again, do it again, do it again, do it again” haha. I guess it’s almost like when Eazy-E rhymed on NWA records, you know you’d hear the stories about how he had to punch in and do stuff over because he really wasn’t an MC. It’s almost like the same thing, but he’s getting the hang of it now, he’s getting better.
HHS: Do you handle all of the production on the album…?
PAUL: No actually it’s split between me and him, initially he did most of the production on there but as time went on we needed to pick songs so we’re doing 50-50. And there’s also a guy, a friend of his that he works with which is another Paul, named Paul Mackenzie and he plays the keyboards so they put a lot of stuff together between them two on the album as well.
HHS: Did your Son used to go by the name of DJ Paul Fresh…? Does he just go by DJ P. Forreal now…?
PAUL: Yeah he went by Paul Fresh for like 3 months haha, and then he changed it.
HHS: I also wanted to ask about the Unreleased Series that you’ve been dropping on Soundcloud. It’s almost like a continuation of the Hip-Hop Gold Dust compilation, is that what you were aiming for or were you just trying to get more tracks out there…?
PAUL: Well I wasn’t even thinking about Gold Dust when I was putting the stuff out, I was just trying to put out music that was going to waste you know. I got so many tracks just laying around, with vocals, without vocals, stuff that got rejected that I did mixes for. I figured I might as well just put it out you know, it doesn’t do me any good just holding on to it, I might as well put it out and let other people enjoy it. I put it out there, some people think it’s great, some people think it’s crappy you know, but at least I get to not keep it in the computer.
HHS: Do you plan on putting out any further volumes of Hip-Hip Gold Dust…? Do you have vaults full of unreleased tracks…?
PAUL: Umm probably not, unless someone approaches me to put out another record like that you know, but those records are kinda hard to put out because you have to get clearance from all the artists and some of them are hard to find, a lot of the stuff is sample based so then you got clearance of all the samples so it’s a lot of hassle. So to put it out online, it’s free, it’s just way easier… not profitable haha… but it’s way easier.
HHS: One of the tracks I wanted to ask about from Hip-Hop Gold Dust is the LA Symphony track…
PAUL: Ahh yeah, yeah “Broken Down”…
HHS: It’s one of my personal favourite Prince Paul beats. Did you do any more tracks with LA Symphony or was it just the one track…?
PAUL: Wow thank you. Umm it was just the one track, they had approached me, wow I had totally forgot about that, it was a while back in the day they were like “we’re big fans and we’d really like you to do a song with us” and they let me hear some of the stuff they were doing. They had some type of beat they wanted, you know “that Prince Paul sound” and I remember I gave them that beat and half of them liked it, half of them were uhhhhhhhhhh, they weren’t too sure about it. But I was like hey man, this is a Prince Paul beat, this is my style and you know it all worked out and I think they did a really good job on it. It’s sad that it never officially came out.
HHS: Yeah, that’s why I wanted to ask about it because it never came out until the Hip-Hop Gold Dust compilation…
PAUL: Yeah I think their deal got messed up, typical Hip-Hop story you know, you get signed, you get dropped, or the label goes out of business.
HHS: Another track that you dropped on Soundcloud was that unreleased Gravediggaz track “The House That Hatred Built”. Was that something that was recorded for the demo tape or the first Gravediggaz album or was it just you guys messing around…?
PAUL: Yeah that was the first song that we ever recorded as a group, so it was a demo you know, everybody came by the house, I played the song, the beat that I had and I was like yo, I think we should use this. This kinda fits the style we had talked about. And it was really on the spot we recorded it so what you hear is the first song we ever did.
HHS: Who came up with the idea for the whole Horrorcore concept on the first album…? Did you have the idea or was that just the kind of beats you were making at that time…?
PAUL: Well a lot of the beats I was making were kinda dark, I was going through some weird depression at the time, it was more or less like a career thing, my career was going on a down turn, you know, dealing with music business stuff, and I was young too, it kinda stresses you out. So all the songs I was making were dark sounding so when I approached RZA, Poetic and Frukwan and I was playing them some of the music, I think the vibe that I was doing kinda steered it in that direction. It’s funny, like Poetic would debate this if he was still around god rest his soul, but I think it was more or less RZA that came up with going in that direction.
HHS: Kind of like that’s how RZA interpreted your beats, put his lyrics over it and every one else followed suit…?
PAUL: Yeah that more or less kinda happened, you know, we were sat thinking of names and stuff and I’m almost positive RZA came up with Gravediggaz and I was like “Oooooo..”. And we took names up you know, and that’s when he invented the name The RZA, because before he was known as Prince Rakeem. And he was like yo, I’m going by The RZA, for Resurrector or RZArecta… and I’m like yeah that’s cool hahaha. So everyone went around the room making up names. So yeah it’s a little known fact that the RZA’s name was invented in my house.
HHS: Possibly a tough question… who do you think was the illest MC in the Gravediggaz…?
PAUL: Umm, it depends on what day, you know, it would always flip flop. For a minute I would always say Poetic, but then I remember I used to get Poetic and RZA to battle all the time. I was always going to Poetic’s ear or going to RZA like yo, Poetic can eat you up man haha, and RZA would be like word, word?! And they would just battle and I would have to say RZA would get him haha. Almost every time. But Poetic was really, really slick, like some days you catch Poetic and you can’t beat him you know, and some days you catch RZA and you cant beat him. Frukwan was a really competitive MC, he was like ok I’m gunna lay my rhyme and then I’m gunna lay back. They were the best MC’s ever.
HHS: When it came time to do the second Gravediggaz album was it a decision that you made to take more of a back seat on the production side of things…?
PAUL: Yeah, I only really wanted to do the first album, that was my main thing. When it came to the second album I remember me and RZA were talking about not doing it, like yeah we cool, but felt that Poetic and Frukwan weren’t really in a position to move on. We still had another album contract and budget, so you know, to make it financially better for them we decided to do the second album. I told them I wasn’t really into doing the production as much so I told RZA it would be wise if he did his part, he was starting to put together his production team, he had people working under him, he was building his Wu-Tang conglomerate. And he decided hey, let’s get everybody paid, so everyone can produce some tracks in addition to himself. And I’m cool, I just want to chill out, you know, I’m on to the next thing.
HHS: Were you still present at the recording sessions and mixing sessions…?
PAUL: A lot of times I was there, more when they were recording the lyrics rather than the music because you know a lot of producers make beats in the house and then laid the track down at the studio so I felt like they didn’t need me there, it was their own production I didn’t want to step in.
HHS: So when the third Gravediggaz album came around, did they approach you to be involved…? Or where they already aware that you had moved on…?
PAUL: I think more or less they did it on their own, so it was a conscious decision like ok Paul is outta the picture, so we need to get this album together to prove that we can stand on our own two, and I’m just guessing here, but that’s more or less how that came about.
HHS: The RZA has said in a couple of interviews that a new Gravediggaz album is in the works. Have you been involved in that at all…? Is it something you would go back to…?
PAUL: Yeah we talked about it a few times, we talked about doing some reunion shows. I spoke to RZA’s manager and we were putting together a whole big thing. But then it never materialises and I can’t blame RZA because he’s a busy dude you know. A lot of it falls on his shoulders and I literally spoke to him last week and I was saying we been getting a lot of questions about Gravediggaz, maybe we should do it you know, and he agreed like, let’s do one more go round and end the chapter. When that’ll be… I don’t know. Have we discussed it… yeah. Doing beats on the next record, for me I’m not sure. I know that they recorded some stuff already and I heard some of the stuff that they did, but I’ve gotta see if I can fit into that lane.
HHS: RZA dropped a new Gravediggaz track a couple of years ago featuring him and Frukwan called “2 More Cups Of Blood”. Did you hear it…?
PAUL: Nah I haven’t heard that man, I’d love to hear it though.
HHS: He put it out as part of his Wu-Wednesdays series through Soundcloud…
PAUL: Well I gotta check that out, I remember when I went to his house, he played me a bunch of new stuff like here’s some new stuff I’m working on. And you know, he says this is the chamber were in this time so take a listen, and I’m like ok, cool. But I don’t remember that one… I might have heard it, just didn’t know the title, but I’ll have to check that.
HHS: I read a while back that the reason there has been no material by Poetic released since his death is because he told his family that he didn’t want any of his music to be released posthumously. Had you heard anything like that…?
PAUL: I’ve never heard that, that’s actually the first time I’ve ever heard that…
HHS: Is there much unreleased Poetic material…?
PAUL: I think there’s at least a whole albums worth. I know I have some stuff in my possession but you know, I would have to get permission from his estate and everything and I respect that, if I wanna touch anything. But other than that yeah he definitely had a lot of stuff. He was like a real MC, he wrote constantly. He wouldn’t just write to the song, he would just write rhymes to write rhymes so he had tons of material.
HHS: The project that you were working on straight after the first Gravediggaz album was the Horror City album right…?
PAUL: Well the Horror City stuff, I kinda did it at the tail end of the Gravediggaz record. What freaked people out, especially when I tried to shop the Horror City stuff, people thought it was the same thing as Gravediggaz because of the name Horror City. But Horror City is just the slang for Amityville, that’s what it’s called because of the Amityville horror. And so people got it all mixed up and it caused a whole lot of stress but yeah I recorded that at the tail end of making the first Gravediggaz record. I think it was a really good album man, but nobody heard it at the time.
HHS: It gets pretty much universal acclaim on Hip-Hop blogs since you put it out online. The beats are like a natural progression from what you were doing on 6 Feet Deep, were you still in a dark place at that time…?
PAUL: Yeah, yeah, all of those beats were made around the same time. Sometimes I go back and listen to it, at that point I was doing a lot of that stuff on ADAT tapes so I listen to those tapes, there’s maybe ten songs on a tape. Sometimes I listen to those songs back to back and they all have that same vibe. It’s what I was going through at the time. In some ways I wish I could repeat that again, it’s a time and space as far as getting back in to it.
HHS: Is there any of your projects that you feel stands out above all the rest…? Which are you most proud of…?
PAUL: My favourite record that I’ve made, out of all of them, is probably the first Gravediggaz album. I put a lot of work in to that. It was a passionate project to kinda prove to myself that I could still make a good record, and I still had the ear, I was able to put people together that didn’t know each other and convince them to make a project that would work. And it was a challenge in the sense of a lot of the time the guys weren’t in the same place at the same time, like RZA would come in and record some vocals, Poetic might come in, Frukwan might come in, or Poetic and Frukwan. So to make it sound cohesive and work. There were times when we were all together, but there were times when everything was haywire. So when you make a record like a jigsaw puzzle, to put it together was kinda amazing. So when I listen to that at the end of it, you know, that record was a lot of hard work. That’s all I think about now, it was hard to make this album.
HHS: Do you prefer working as part of a group, i.e. with Gravediggaz, producing for De La Soul, Handsome Boy Modeling School, or do you prefer working solo…?
PAUL: I think it’s easier when I make stuff on my own in the sense of I can kinda guide the direction. But I like the idea of collaborating with other people. You know, a lot of times I can’t think of everything, so if there’s people that you respect and work with we can come up with great ideas, that’s fun too. That’s a whole lotta fun, and it takes my production to a different level as opposed to when I’m by myself. When I’m by myself I’ll go but so far but when you’ve got another mind on something he’ll take you places you didn’t think of.
HHS: DOOM! recently gave an interview with XXL Magazine. He was talking about an upcoming project, he didn’t give much info but said it was a full length collab with a beat maker from New York that made hits in the 90′s… he also said it wasn’t DJ Premier. A lot of people started mentioning yourself as a possibility… Can you confirm / deny anything about this…?
PAUL: Well I can say right now that it’s not me haha. It would be nice if it was. Me and him were supposed to work on a record about 10 years ago. When did the first DOOM record come out, ’99…? So yeah, maybe around 10 years ago we wanted to put a record together, but we just never got the time to make it materialise. But yeah, it’s not me. It would be kinda cool maybe in the near future.
HHS: What is your relationship like with DOOM! now…? Do you speak on a regular basis (or as regular as you can with a cat like DOOM!)…?
PAUL: Yeah I mean I catch him every whenever. We have an extensive relationship, I’ve known him since he was a kid because we did Gas Face together, that was the first song he ever rhymed on. So despite all the stuff that’s going on, he’ll every once in a while hit me up. And a lot of the albums you hear, he’ll send it to me first and it’s like what do you think? Do you think I should do this? How do you think this and that, a lot of times for advice which is flattering, and that’s kinda what it is. We’ll sit, we’ll chat, we’ll talk about life, it’s not just music, we’ll talk about the family, what’s going on, how’s your health haha, you know it’s not all beats. We talk about grown folks stuff half the time haha.
HHS: Are there any of your projects that you wish had gotten more shine…?
PAUL: Man I wouldn’t like to say. I wish all of my records sold a lot more. But I mean it all kind of worked out where it’s supposed to be, you know. Would I like to have overall greater success… Of course. But at the same time I like the freedom of making the records I like to make. A lot of the times with big labels and big budgets, there’s big expectations and you have to deliver, which means in some cases kinda commercialising your style a little bit just so you can meet the needs of the label. So for me being able to make whatever kinda record I want to make, I’m cool with that. I prefer a loyal fan base rather than the fan that just buys your record for the hit.
HHS: Politics Of The Business is a very underrated album with a lot of hot joints. It seemed to just go over people’s heads at the time it came out. Why do you think they didn’t ‘get it’…?
PAUL: Yeah I probably asked the same question at the time when it came out. Sometimes I think beyond… haha how can I put this… my brain works a little bit too fast, because I’ll think of stuff and I’ll put a lot of sarcasm in and put a lot of stuff in the music and a lot of times it goes over peoples heads, and they’re like ohh ok, he’s trying to do whatever. Or they’ll try to figure it out or try to pigeon hole it. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a quick joke, or I’m poking fun at a certain style of music and people are like ohh he’s trying to do this and it got caught up in everybody thinking I was trying to commercialise our music, but I was really just poking fun at a lot of that stuff. The other part of it too was it was a joke that I had going on with Tom Soderman at the time, he was stressing me, I remember he told me “Albums don’t sell, singles sell, make a whole album worth of singles”. And I was like, you know what, that’s kinda funny so I was just poking fun at that conversation.
HHS: I wanted to ask about a couple of your one-off projects like The Dix and Baby Elephant. Are these things that you would revisit…?
PAUL: Probably those are one-off’s. Baby Elephant I really enjoyed doing because I love working with Bernie Worrell. It was just a lot of stuff with his business and his management so we could never really hit it off like we wanted to, but would I like to make another one… Yeah I’d love to work with him again, he’s a great dude man I look up to that dude. The Dix would be a lot of fun to do because it’s just a bunch of me and my friends acting stupid haha, but will it happen again? I doubt it but a lot of those same friends are always on the records I make anyway because we’re friends.
HHS: What have you got planned for after Negroes On Ice…? Any future projects in the works…?
PAUL: Yeah I mean right now I’m doing umm… I haven’t made a Prince Paul record in quite some time, like a serious one that I’m really passionate about with some really good music. When I make records like The Dix and all that other stuff it’s just for fun, it’s not competitive, it’s not to win any new fans. It’s not really how I’m feeling at the time, it’s just acting silly. So what I mean by a real Prince Paul record is like a Gravediggaz record, like the first one is a real Prince Paul record or A Prince Among Thieves, those are records that I worked really hard on and I really love the music that I made. So I have a whole lot of music that I’m sorting out trying to put together.
HHS: Have you been working with any other groups or MC’s lately…? The Souls Of Mischief album that you did a few years back is a personal classic!!
PAUL: No not really. The Souls Of Mischief album was a hard record to make too but it was a lot of fun in the sense that I got a chance to really hang with those guys and get away from the house. We spent like a month, almost a month in a house out in the woods man it was horrible haha you know, bugs all over the place it was hardcore! Working on my Mac laptop you know, it was some gully recording but it was cool. But yeah, there’s been a few things I’ve tried to put together over the last few years but it’s just hard getting people together. Back in the day if you had a budget, it’s easier to get guys together and MC’s together and say hey here’s some money let’s work on this record. One, they’re motivated because they’re getting paid and they can take time off because they’re getting paid. And the other part of it is they obviously love the music. So now it’s difficult for me to go to MC’s and say hey, lets work on this project together, and they go ‘For what?’ haha. And I’m like ‘to make great music!’ haha. And they go, ohhh ok, and it never gets done.
HHS: Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you wish you had…? Or anyone you would like to collaborate with…?
PAUL: Man, I don’t know, I’ve already worked with RZA, I’ve already worked with DOOM! If it was up to me I’d like to do a record with those two guys again, but other than that…
HHS: I think you’ve worked with pretty much everyone that’s worth working with…
PAUL: Yeah I mean really, unless they’re dead it’s hard for me to think of anyone I want to work with.
HHS: You produced the Resident Alien album when you had your Doo Dew Man label. Were there any other acts that you were producing, or was anyone else signed to the label…?
PAUL: Oh yeah there was a gentleman by the name of Mic Teluxe, a good friend of mine, I grew up with him actually. To me, he is exceptionally good lyrically. We did maybe half an album and it never got released and I’ll probably throw a song or two on Soundcloud. I thought he was really, really good but the label just crumbled and things didn’t work out so I didn’t get a chance to put his music out but I still have a few of his songs.
HHS: Have you ever seriously thought about rapping…? Have you ever dropped verses on any projects…?
PAUL: Aside from the De La records like Pass The Plugs and Description and that kinda stuff. I mean, I’ve jokingly done stuff but never really like hard core rhymes, you know. You’ll find joke verses on Stetsasonic songs, you’ll find joke verses on some of the records I’ve done but to sit down and really rhyme rhyme? I know my limitations hahaha, I’d be playing myself out. I’d be doing a disservice to the sport if I tried to rhyme.
HHS: A couple of years ago there was a member of the Wu-Tang Corp forum called DJ Wuki that had an unreleased package of Wu-Tang tracks for sale. It included 8 Gravediggaz tracks that no one has ever heard of or been able to find. Most of the tracks featured Shabazz The Disciple, some of the track names were ‘Save Yourself’, ‘Radiation’, Diggaz Was Dead’, ‘Another Page From The Diary’, ‘Revolution’, and ‘False Things Must Perish (Original Version)’. Were you involved in the making of any of these tracks…?
PAUL: I don’t think I’ve heard of them, who knows, even if I did I probably wouldn’t recognise them just by name. It’s hard to say because of the whole umbrella under Wu-Tang and everybody who made beats, there’s so much material, it’s hard to keep track of who did what.
HHS: Your albums Psychoanalysis and Itstrumental deal a lot with themes of depression and mental conditions. What was the inspiration behind basing a whole album on those topics…?
PAUL: Being depressed haha. Especially when you’re younger and in the music business it’s difficult, some people deal with it with drugs but I’m in my head all the time so I’m constantly thinking, thinking, thinking. And when you’re young, you take stuff a lot more personally so you sit down and somebody disses you or you put trust in people or record labels and stuff you shouldn’t do. A lot of those people look at you as dollar signs, they don’t look at you as people, so today they’ll be your boy, but when you’re not charting they’re like Who? Paul who? I take all that stuff personally and being an artist I put it on wax like ok, this is how I feel, and make a record in this zone so yeah that’s how a lot of those came about. Those records are kinda like blueprints of what was going on in my life at that time.
HHS: Like your state of mind at that time…
PAUL: Yeah it’s like a diary. People say yeah you’ve done De La records, you did De La Is Dead, you did 6 Feet Deep, but I look at it like, man when I made that I was going through this, and when I did that album this other stuff was going on. I look at them differently, I don’t hear them like other people do.
HHS: Which would you say is your favourite of the De La Soul albums you produced…?
PAUL: Umm probably the first one, like, we didn’t know what was going on. I mean, I had a cool time making records with Stetsasonic, but with De La we were just going for broke, we weren’t worried about labels, we were just making our own kind of record. It was weird because it was like the blind leading the blind haha, I was fronting like I knew what I was doing but I really didn’t and those guys had so much faith and trust in me and we made a record that weirdly did well.
HHS: Going back to the new album, Negroes On Ice, when does that drop…?
PAUL: It changed, it was September 25th, it’s now October 2nd and the vinyl and the CD’s come out on the 16th on Nature Sounds.
HHS: Have you ever worked with your Son on any previous projects or is this the first time you have collaborated…?
PAUL: Working together on songs this is the first collaboration, but I’ve recorded his voice here and there on stuff and he’s been around from day one. I remember when he was a baby when RZA and them would come round when we were recording the Gravediggaz stuff and doing the De La stuff so he’s used to the whole recording process. It was different when I started recording him though, he got a taste of me being a perfectionist.
HHS: Can you shed any light on the other MC’s on the new album…?
PAUL: Umm I can give some basic ones out, there’s a lot of vocalists and vocal appearances on here, there’s Breeze Brewin who I’ve worked with before, my Son’s friend his name is T Harris, there’s Soce The Elemental Wizard, obviously my Son, there’s a bunch of vocalists. I’m not at liberty to say just yet, I kinda want to surprise people when they hear the album and they’ll go that’s such and such, man that’s such and such. There’s a lot of guest appearances on there.
HHS: Good luck with the album when it drops and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions…
PAUL: Thank you. I appreciate it man and no problem at all.
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