Curses and All: Legend/DJ Prince Paul Gives Son ‘P. For Real’ The Real Hip-Hop


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Prince Paul has always bounced to the beat of his own drum, whether it’s been as a DJ for the first Hip-Hop band Stetsasonic, producing the groundbreaking 3 Feet High and Rising album for De La Soul, or doing horror-rap with the likes of RZA.

Last month, the legendary producer teamed up with his son, P. For Real, to release a Hip-Hop comedy album entitled Negroes on Ice – once again showing that he’s not afraid of taking risks and trying something new. caught up with Prince Paul and his son to talk about their new album and get yet another perspective on a successful father/son Hip-Hop collaboration (see also: Kid Frost’s Kid, Scoop Deville, Part 1 and Part 2). Read on: Prince Paul, it’s an honor to talk to you today. DJ P. For Real, hopefully you didn’t hear all of that stuff your dad was saying about you while we were waiting for you on the other line. [laughter]

Prince Paul: That’s OK. He’s heard it all before. Well, I don’t want you two beefing and making diss songs about each other. The last thing rap needs is a father and son diss battle! [laughter]

Prince Paul: Maybe we’ll team up and battle other father and son teams, like Master P and what’s his son’s name? Romeo.

Prince Paul: Yeah, Romeo. [laughter] That would be the most uninteresting battle ever. We don’t see too many father and son rap combos, but it’s nice to see whenever we come across it. Our site featured Kid Frost and his producing son, Scoop Deville, earlier in the year.

Prince Paul: It’s like all of the guys from the Golden Era are all old men now. I think what’s different with me and my son is that I don’t rhyme. He really doesn’t rhyme either. The first time he rhymed, I forced him to do it on this Negroes on Ice project. That was a painstaking process. We’re more like a production creative force.

[youtube] P. For Real, you followed your dad’s footsteps into the production side of things.

P. For Real: I grew up in the studio, so it was kind of natural. I wasn’t always nice. Not saying that I’m super-nice now, but I’ve figured things out. Your dad had a crib set up in the studio while he worked?

P. For Real: When he was working on The Gravediggaz album in the studio, he would be holding me.

Prince Paul: I remember I was working on Bulloone Mindstate with De La Soul – which we never completed together. I demo’d the album, but they completed it on their own. I was holding my son in the studio while sampling and blasting sounds at the same time. Did you ever think that your son would follow in your footsteps? Or did you have other hopes and dreams for him?

Prince Paul: I never really wanted him to follow in my footsteps, honestly. As a parent, your job is to project your children. The music business has so many ups and downs. When the getting is good, it’s good – but at the same time, when it’s bad, it’s bad. There are so many things that can happen. You’ve got to be strong, because feelings can get hurt when people diss you and use you. There are crazy women out there, drugs, and every possible thing. You look at your children, and you don’t want them to go through that.

When he started doing this, I really didn’t take it serious. I was like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.” But I couldn’t stop him, and he kept going on with it, so eventually I had to pay attention and respect it. P. For Real, why did you follow in your dad’s footsteps instead of choosing another career path?

P. For Real: First, my dad is my role model and second, I love music. Watching him all of my life, I’ve always wanted to do what he did. But those are big shoes to fill. Your dad is a Hip-Hop legend, and with that comes high expectations. That’s a really big burden.

P. For Real: You have to create your own lane. If I try to make myself Prince Paul number two, then yeah, it is a big burden.

Prince Paul: Wow. You gave me some high praise. I got legendary status. I bet if you got on the phone with Skee-lo right now, you would say the same thing. [laughter] The “wish I was a baller” rapper? No, I wouldn’t call him a legend. I’d call him a veteran, but not a legend.

Prince Paul: That’s smart, but you’re a writer using words like “legend” and “veteran.” I feel it’s justified. You’ve got some great accolades and accomplishments there.

Prince Paul: I’m just happy to be somewhat relevant. When people don’t want to talk to you anymore, that’s when I get nervous. What I think is cool about you two is that I wish that I could have shared a Hip-Hop bond with my father. His genre of music was early rock ‘n roll, and although we shared a lot of love for music, we didn’t have a Hip-Hop connection.

Prince Paul: It was the same way with my father. We shared a love for jazz, but that was it. With me and my son, we love Hip-Hop, but there’s a lot of stuff that his generation plays that is crap. It’s garbage! Although we both love Hip-Hop, sometimes we don’t share the same tastes – if you even want to call some of that stuff Hip-Hop. [laughter] But he’s a lot savvier than a lot of friends his age, because he’s grown up on the old stuff. As far as today’s rappers, especially the ones that come out with one just one hit, I don’t know those too well. What about you, P-For Real? Is there anything about rap from your dad’s era that you can’t relate to?

P. For Real: I think all of that “yes, yes, y’all” is wack. The stuff that came out when I was baby like Public Enemy and LL Cool J, I like. When I was a kid, Nas’ Illmatic album was what my dad played every day when we got in the car.

Prince Paul: Curses and all. I didn’t care. Curses and all with your kid around? What was your reasoning for that?

Prince Paul: I was just playing hot music. It was a dope album. My son used to mimic The Beatnuts when I would play them in the car. I would also play De La Soul’s Stakes is High album, and I had nothing to do with it at all except for demo’ing it at the start. I thought it was a great album, and I would play it a lot for us. It was our bonding time together. What’s funny is that when P. For Real went down to Atlanta, his uncle took away his Nas album! [laughter]

P. For Real: He took my album away because there was cursing in it. That was wack. You two made this new Hip-Hop comedy album together. Was it a challenge working with you dad? Was he ever too hard on you?

P. For Real: There was always critiquing going on. This was my first time recording an album. There was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know about, and my dad would tell me to do it again. Plus, on top of the stuff in the studio, there were outside father and son things going on, too – like him asking if I finished with the dishes. [laughter] Were you hard on him, Paul?

Prince Paul: I think that my son had it easy. From my era, there are a whole lot of elements that come with paying your dues and earning your stripes. If you’re going to get in the booth, you’ve got to have some kind of talent, even if you’re my son. If someone is wack, they are wack.

This project represents me. I love my son, and I love the music, too. I have to make sure that whatever he does, it has to be to the best of his ability. I don’t know necessarily what his ability is, but as a producer, my job is to figure that out – even if that means making him re-record things over again. We recorded and re-wrote this album like a billion times. It’s still not what I hear in my head, but I know what his abilities are, and I have to respect that. Sometimes what I hear and what I want is probably out of this world. I’m a perfectionis,t unfortunately. That is a blessing and a curse. There used to be a lot of comedy in rap back in the day. Watching a few of the videos from your album made me very nostalgic of that time in Hip-Hop.

Prince Paul: That’s just who we are around the house. We joke around 24/7. Don’t walk into my house expecting to chill out and not get snapped on. Everybody has thick skin, and we laugh and joke. It was natural for us to do this kind of project.

P. For Real: Like he said, all we do is make fun of everything and each other.

Prince Paul: A lot of the humor on this record, some people get it and some people don’t. Some people that I’ve played it seemed like they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Maybe they just expect the Prince Paul of old, and not the one now trying to do something different?

Prince Paul: Yeah, I’m doing something different. At the same time, have you ever watched “Adult Swim” late at night, and the comedy was awkward and different? And you wondered, ‘What the hell this is?’ That’s kind of like what this is. [Laughter] Maybe they just want your Gravediggaz stuff?

Prince Paul: I was talking to RZA just the other day, who happens to be on the record as well. I mentioned a new project that I wanted to work on with him. He didn’t give me a ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’ He gave me that basic, “Yeah.” Does that hurt a little?

Prince Paul: Nah, not at all. I’ve got a reputation that’s always left people wondering of what I’m doing. I did a skit on my last album Handsome Boy in which I had someone do an impression of RZA. He was on the album in one of the songs, but he didn’t know about the skit. While on tour, a kid approached him and told him that he was mad funny on the album. He thought the kid was talking about the song. Then finally he went back and heard the skit on the album and told me, “If it was anybody else, I would have had a beef with them.” He gave me a pass because I’m Prince Paul, and this is what I do. [laughter] P. For Real, I hope that you cherish this experience. When you have kids, you can show them this project that you made with your father.

P. For Real: Oh yeah, it’s a great bonding experience. He’s my best friend.

Prince Paul: Wow! That’s the first time I’ve heard that. I’ve got to give this interview props. This is something I’ve never heard before.

P. For Real: It’s a friendship and a bonding experience and (pauses), I really don’t know where I’m going with this. Do your friends ever try to get you to get a beat from your dad?

P. For Real: I’ve been getting that forever. It got worse when I got into a high school because that’s when people started to find out who my dad was. I would always get mixtapes from kids at school to give to my dad. I know my dad’s ear, so I knew what he would like and not like. I would listen to them first. It never made it past me if I knew that it wasn’t going to make sense.

Prince Paul: Oh, there was some crap that he brought me. I was like, “What is this? I can’t believe you are wasting my time.” But I’ve met up with some of his friends and suggested things and gave advice. What’s next for you Paul?

Prince Paul: I want to make a Prince Paul record. I haven’t made one in a real long time – a serious one. I’ve got so much music that I’ve saved up. I’ve got to put it out. It’s bothering me. I’m going to try to get that done and have it out sometime next year.