April 2nd – Prince Paul was born Paul E. Huston in Amityville, New York, on this day in 1967.
Prince Paul began his career with Daddy-O, Wise, Frukwan, DBC, MC Delite and Bobby Simmons in the mid-1980’s as a part of Stetsasonic, one of hip-hop’s first live bands.
The band, originally known as The Stetson Brothers after the “Stetson” hat, released their critically acclaimed debut album “On Fire” on Tommy Boy Records in 1986.
Stetsasonic followed that up with their ground breaking sophomore joint “In Full Gear” in 1988. “In Full Gear” featured the classics rap hits “Sally”, “Float On” and “Talkin’ All That Jazz”, an answer song to an interview musician James Mtume gave on a New York City radio show in which he criticized rap music for sampling.
Stetsasonic released one more album; 1991’s “Blood, Sweat & No Tears” before calling it quits as a group.
Prince Paul, however, would receive his biggest acclaim when he stepped out as a producer and helped musically craft De La Soul’s debut album “3 Feet High And Rising” in 1989 on Tommy Boy.
The album was preceded by an EP released in 1988 which featured some of the classic singles and tracks that would appear on “3 Feet High And Rising”, like “Plug Tunin’” and “Jenifa (Taught Me).”
“3 Feet High And Rising” would feature unlikely music samples for hip-hop by artists such as Johnny Cash, Hall And Oates, Steely Dan and The Detroit Emeralds.
The album also popularized the “album skit” between songs courtesy of Paul collaborator Don Newkirk.
“3 Feet High And Rising” would be lauded by critics and fans alike as a bona fide classic.
Prince Paul would go on to produce two more albums for De La Soul; 1991’s “De La Soul Is Dead” , which received 5 mics in The Source Magazine and 1993’s “Buhloone Mindstate”, which would feature guest appearances by former James Brown sideman Maceo Parker and the late Guru of Gang Starr.
Both albums would continue to push the boundaries in hip-hop for production, creativity and innovation.
Prince Paul would eventually become one of the most sought after producers in the music industry working with 3rd Bass, Queen Latifah, Big Daddy Kane, Jaz-O, Boogie Down Productions, Groove B Chill, Cypress Hill, Slick Rick, MF Doom, J-Live, Souls Of Mischief, comedian Chris Rock and funk legend George Clinton on his 1990 remix for “Tweakin’”, which featured Yours Truly and Flavor Flav, just to name few.
Prince Paul has released five solo albums; 1996’s “Psychoanalysis; What Is It?”, 1999’s “A Prince Amongst Thieves”, a hip-hop opera which featured some of the biggest names in rap music, 2003’s “Politics Of The Business”, where I had the opportunity to again work with Prince Paul alongside Ice-T, comedian Dave Chappelle, Dave of De La Soul and The Beatnuts to name just a few and 2005’s “Itstrumental” and “Hip Hop Gold Dust” both released the same year.
Prince Paul was also a member of one of hip-hop’s first super-groups along with Wu-Tang founder The RZA, Frukwan and the late Too Poetic in Gravediggaz, who pioneered rap’s “horror-core” sound. Gravediggaz released three albums; 1994’s “6 Feet Deep”, 1997’s “The Pick, The Sickle And The Shovel” and 2002’s “Nightmare In A-Minor.”
In 1999, Paul also collaborated with Dan The Automator and formed Handsome Boy Modeling School and released the album “So…How’s Your Girl”, which again featured contributions by some of the biggest names in hip-hop.
In 2004, Handsome Boy Modeling School released a second album called “White People” which this time along with featuring some of hip-hop’s big guns, also featured big names in pop, reggae, alternative rock and comedy.
Prince Paul has also been involved in collaboration projects and groups who released albums like The Dix, Baby Elephant and Dino 5.
Prince Paul continues to perform and produce music today and is considered one of the most innovative and creative minds in the history of the industry.