There's no question that Prince Paul is one of the most unique and best producers to emerge from the hip-hop scene, his illustrious career speaks for itself. The way in which he masters so many different styles and concepts is just something else. Therefore I was quite suprised by how initially dissapointed I was with the purchase of his 2003 album "Politics of the Business", the follow-up to his all-time classic concept LP "A Prince Among Theives". I didn't listen to it more than probably a couple of times before putting it on the shelf where it stayed until a few days ago, when I decided to give it another chance. Without the preconceived notions of the original play, the album banged a whole lot better than I remembered. The whole project is of course a tounge-in-cheek concept album about Prince Paul creating an album that will truly please his label and reach the record buying mainstream. With that in mind Paul leaves his past behind, as well as his instinct for always striving after originality, and channels the then current sounds of Neptunes, Timbaland and Dr. Dre. It's a weird ass idea, but Paul is of course a weird ass guy, and through his eminent talent he actually pulls off the sound pretty damn well. "Politics of the Business" is truly a daring move (or a very stupid one, depending on how you look at it) as it's not really designed to go platinum, which we can see by the way it was promoted and the clever skits that's weaved into the narrative of the project, but rather a musical attack on how similiar all commercial hip-hop sounded in the early 2000s. What's funny is that the commercial hip-hop of 2003 sounds dope and progressive as hell, compared to the stuff that's getting major radio play today. While the concept hinders it from becoming a masterpiece or even truly great, songs like "So What", "Drama Queen", "Chryme Pays", "Peoples, Places & Things" and "My Life" should definitely satisfy fans of the once-De La Soul mentor. Another plus is that the list of guest emcees to make an apperance here is almost as impressive as on its predecessor. Amongst others this include Masta Ace, Dave of De La, Truth Enola, GURU, Planet Asia, Kokane, Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Jean Grae, Ice-T, DJ Premier, Chuck D, MF DOOM, Wordsworth, Chubb Rock, Beatnuts, Tash, The Pharcyde and of course Dave Chappelle. I would imagine a lot of fans had a similiar reaction as mine when this was originally released, so I would like to recommend you all giving it another spin.
But this isn't strictly a throwback review, we are here for "The Diary of Prince Paul", a bonus DVD that came with some editions of the album. The 30 minutes long film is a mockumentary/spoof of the MTV Show "The Diary Of...", and does this concept very well. The show focuses on the struggle of Prince Paul and his crew in recording and promoting the the new album. It's absolutely ridiciolous, and weird as hell, so I'd imagine you'll either love it or hate it but to me it's a quite hilarious little film. It's filled with lots of little cameos in there too, such as Bushwick Bill, Mr. Dead, Lord Sear, Mr. Len, Mr. Eon, and more. While watching I kept thinking about how I would've loved to see this with my man Kaddu (R.I.P.), 'cause I know we would have had a blast viewing this. Funny thing is that the very same day as I first dusted off "The Politics of the Business", GrandGood uploaded the entire "documentary" to YouTube (my copy of the album came without the bonus DVD). So a huge thanks to the guys over @ GrandGood for this ill upload!
I'm thinking of doing a series of articles focusing on some of the more slept-on or missed out Prince Paul projects, but we'll see. Anyways, as a little bonus I'm also re-posting the two outtakes/alternative versions of songs from "...the Business" that Prince Paul posted on his Soundcloud page a year or two ago. The version of "My Life" especially is just an amazing song all around, and features Buckshot instead of the Fatlip, SlimKid3 and Black Ice-assisted version heard on the album. The other track is an early demo of "Beautifully Absurd", a stong track though not exactly a hip-hop joint per se.