Where Are They Now?: Arabian Prince

If you’re an ‘80s baby, chances are you don’t remember cuts like “She’s Got a Big Posse” or “Situation Hot.” And even those schooled on the earliest N.W.A cuts probably didn’t know Mik “Arabian Prince” Lezan was an original member, on the boards alongside Dr. Dre and DJ Yella.The term ‘under the radar’ gets used […]

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If you’re an ‘80s baby, chances are you don’t remember cuts like “She’s Got a Big Posse” or “Situation Hot.” And even those schooled on the earliest N.W.A cuts probably didn’t know Mik “Arabian Prince” Lezan was an original member, on the boards alongside Dr. Dre and DJ Yella.The term ‘under the radar’ gets used all too often in the music business, but it’s a position that accurately where The Arabian Prince has been most of his career. From being a part of gangsta rap’s origins, to his most recent material as the electro-funk hero Professor X, superstardom has always eluded the left coast legend. Not that he wanted it anyways. But with Stones Throw releasing Arabian Prince’s anthology, Innovative Life, and a growing electro audience overseas, the man who once rocked a Jheri curl with the best of ‘em is better known today than when he told the ladies “It’s Time To Bone” in 1989.Arabian Prince is planning on releasing a full-length Professor X album, with a new animated musical group to follow. Delve into the mind of a man who continues to forge his own path of creativity 25 years after first hitting the scene. AllHipHop.com: You were one of the first DJs on the west coast, and you pioneered the electro sound that you’ve carried all the way through to today. Is the response to the music today bigger than it was back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s?Arabian Prince: In a way, yeah. Back in those days electro was big locally. It was a local phenomenon, and in like Detroit, down south and Miami. But it’s crazy now because we’re traveling all over the world. We just got back from Germany and Austria and we’re doing shows everywhere. We’re doing more shows in Europe than we’ve ever done and for younger audiences, because the new generation is really into this really up-tempo electro-funk-type music. It’s kind of a resurgence for it.AllHipHop.com: So you get better feedback in a place like Nuremberg than say in LA.Arabian Prince: Man, Nuremberg is crazy! I think we got a better response there because that was the home of Kraftwerk so they knew every single word to every single song. Here, some people know the words and some people know the songs, but some people don’t and they just like the music. Over there they are definitely electro-heads.AllHipHop.com: Stones Throw has an interesting mix of artists, from you and Percee P to young guys like Guilty Simpson and Madlib. Being on tour with the whole roster recently must have been a good experience.Arabian Prince: It was nice because it was such a diverse tour. Especially [having] Madlib out because he doesn’t tour all that much, which I didn’t know. It was cool seeing Madlib out rocking because it was a rare appearance for him. So we brought the Hip-Hop, we brought the hardcore, the up-temp stuff, just a ton of good music.AllHipHop.com: When you perform does your set include a whole mix of your catalogue?Arabian Prince: When I do my shows, most of the time I’ll do an hour and a half, two hour set. Usually I do a DJ set first and a live set after performing maybe six or seven of my songs. Usually it’s “Panic Zone,” some of my Professor X stuff and then maybe “Innovator/Innovative Life” and stuff like that. But I’m starting to get more requests for some of my older stuff, even like “She’s Got a Big Posse.” So a lot of these younger kids are going out and doing their research and actually listening to that stuff.Arabian Prince “She’s Got a Big Posse”AllHipHop.com: It’s been 25 years since your first release. Has that really crossed your mind at all?Arabian Prince: Yeah, I’m getting old (Laughs). This year is the 20th anniversary of N.W.A and J. J. Fad, so I’ve got a bunch of them.AllHipHop.com: From being a part of N.W.A in the beginning to being with Priority Records back in their heyday, do you have what you consider a defining moment in your career so far?Arabian Prince: For me, some people know me well and some people have never heard of me. Some will be like, “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of Arabian Prince.” But for those that know me, I’m a studio w####. I’m a beatmaker, producer, writer. The whole limelight thing, the notoriety, I’ve never really been into that. I’ve just been appreciative for being able to just make music. I’m creative and I just like to do music. So I guess a defining moment for me was when Stones Throw said they wanted to put out my anthology. I was like “What? You want to take all my old, raggedy songs and put them out? Alright.” (Laughs). So that was crazy. I just did an interview with the Orange County Register and I’m doing an interview today with the LA Times, so I’m thinking that these people are kind of tripping off of this. Maybe they know something I don’t know. But that was a defining moment, knowing people still appreciate the music.AllHipHop.com: Since you’ve been with Stones Throw have you had a chance to get in the studio with Madlib or anyone else?Arabian Prince: I’ve done a few remixes for a couple people, but I’m waiting to get in the studio with people like Guilty and Madlib and a couple other people over there. Madlib is a musical genius. I’ll be listening to his stuff thinking, “How in the hell did he come up with that?” So to be in the same space with some of these cats, doing the same kind of music, I like being on a label that appreciates the music. It’s always music first, then business. AllHipHop.com: It’s been about 10 years since you’ve been doing video games and things of that nature right?Arabian Prince: Yeah I’ve been doing video games and special effects for TV and film and animation. I’m just an uber-nerd at heart. From back in the ‘80s messing around with the 808s and all the analog synths and sequencers really got me into computers heavy. So I’ve been programming and doing animations for the past ten years or so.AllHipHop.com: What are some of that projects that you’ve worked on people would know about?Arabian Prince: Most of The Simpsons games, King of the Hill, Family Guy, Alien Vs. Predator, anything off of 20th Century Fox. A lot of the games out there, and a couple of movies back in the day like Contact. I do a lot of voiceovers on cartoons and film, I do a little bit of everything. I’m an only child dude, so when you don’t have any brothers and sisters you get this creative mind that can’t stop going.Right now I split my time between doing my own music, ghostwriting for people, video games and animation, and on top of all that I’m trying to be a pro golfer. Every morning I’m up at 5 a.m. and practicing, six days a week. I’m pretty good at golf, so I’m seeing if I can take it to the next level.AllHipHop.com: You don’t hear that from too many people in Hip-Hop. I don’t think it’s quite taken off as a cultural pastime yet.Arabian Prince: You’d be surprised though! All these rappers are trying to play golf. I just found out I could play. I started beating my attorneys, and I’m like, “Wait a minute, maybe I can do this.”AllHipHop.com: Maybe it’s just that nobody wants to say they’re golfing unless they’ve got some skills.Arabian Prince: Yeah definitely, but I can officially say it now. You know it’s funny, I was just reading this magazine and I found out that Kenny G is like the best celebrity golfer out there.AllHipHop.com: Did you say Kenny G?Arabian Prince: Yeah, Kenny G man. So my goal is to beat Kenny G (Laughs). I ain’t saying Tiger Woods right now cause he’ll smoke me. But I think I can get some of Kenny G, and I know I can get some of Charles Barkley.