In the last fifteen years, hip-hop has gone through countless changes. Different styles have evolved artists, sub-genres have developed and artists have fallen off. In fact, few artists have been able to withstand all of these changes without sacrificing their artistic integrity. One man, however, that has maintained his originality is Paul Hutson, better known as Prince Paul.
To gain a better understanding of Prince Paul, it is necessary to split up his career into eras: old-school Prince Paul and contemporary Prince Paul. Paul, known as father of the skit or interlude on hip-hop albums, has been putting his creative stamp on hip-hop since the early eighties, when he was a member of the hip-hop band, Stetsasonic. At that time, albums were basically collections of songs, rather than cohesive presentations. In this era, Prince Paul produced tracks for artists such as Big Daddy Kane, 3rd Bass, Boogie Down Productions, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys, as well as handling production duties for De La Soul’s first three albums. Unfortunately, problems with record labels, De La Soul’s commercial failures and Stetasonic’s break-up (along with other factors), drove Paul to pursue other projects.
In 1994, Prince Paul joined The RZA (the brain trust of The Wu-Tang Clan), and artists Fruitkwan and Too Poetic to form Gravediggaz, whose “horror-core” antics on the group’s debut album 6 Feet Deep paved the way for acts such as Eminem to be accepted. Psychoanalysis, Paul’s first solo album, dropped in 1996, without receiving much notoriety from the hip-hop media. Somehow, this did not seem to affect Paul’s music, as he almost reveled in creating off beat projects that did not conform to whatever trends were popular in hip-hop.
Following Psychoanalysis was A Prince Among Thieves, a “hip-hopera,” featuring all the elements of a ghetto drama (sex, money, drugs, violence, and betrayal), but rhymed by both up-and-coming emcees, legends and contemporary favorites, including Breeze (of the Juggaknots), Sha, Biz Markie, Xzibit, Sadat X, Everlast, Buckshot and Chubb Rock.
Recently, Prince Paul has produced tracks for underground artists like Kool Keith, J-Live, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and The Last Emperor. He also contributed heavily to projects for comedian Chris Rock (the Grammy Award-winning Roll With The New), and his protege, MC Paul Barman (It’s Very Stimulating), while releasing the 1999 LP Handsome Boy Modeling School (So, How’s Your Girl?), with Dan the Automator.
If you go:
Prince Paul w/ MC Paul Barman
Thursday, Feb. 22, 9 p.m.
Trocadero, 10th and Arch St.
$14, All ages