EXCLUSIVE: Prince Paul Discusses The State Of Hip Hop, Riff Raff, & His Own Cultural Impact
(AllHipHop Features) In part two of AllHipHop.com’s exclusive interview with Prince Paul, the legendary producer/DJ talks about how taking on the duty of hosting Scion A/V’s “The All Purpose Show” has given him a firsthand view of contemporary Hip Hop. Paul opens up about his take on the current state of the culture, how it has changed since breaking into the industry producing for Stetsasonic and De La Soul, which new school artists are on his radar, and whether he actually recognizes the role he has played in the evolution of rap music.
What’s your opinion of the state of Hip Hop right now? You get to speak to a lot of the young artists through your show. Where do you see culture heading?
The cool thing about doing the Scion A/V show is that I do get a chance to talk to these new artists and honestly, a lot of them I’d probably never to listen to in life, but the show gives me the opportunity to research them. I listen to their music, read their bios, and it gives me a new respect. [Contemporary Hip Hop is] just different. It’s not necessarily stagnant. It’s definitely not better, but I can’t say it’s worse either. People’s hustles are different. Music is for free. We use to make music with the intention to sell it. There like “I’m just going to give this away.” The mind state is different, and it’s quantity over quality.
Where we use to take like a year to make an album and it had to be perfect, now it’s if I don’t get this out next month they’re going to forget about me. The grind is different. I don’t know at what year I got lost, but I think it all switched around once the labels kind of went under and everybody started downloading. The concept and creativity of music changed. I think it’s unfortunate that everybody can make music now whether qualified or not just based on technology. I can get my laptop, an interface, and a microphone, make the music inside the computer and flood the web with crap because there’s really no filter. There’s nobody to say, “This is garbage.” There’s so much stuff out there sometimes it’s hard to get to the good stuff. That’s part of the good thing of doing the show is that it gives me an opportunity to filter through some of that.
I’ve interviewed people like A$ AP Rocky. To actually sit down and talk to him [I realized] that he’s actually a cool guy. And even Danny Brown. They’re not as unknowledgeable about music as I thought [laughs]. As an older person in the industry you automatically assume those things just by what you hear and see. I try not to be that dude, at least I try and understand. So it’s a different game. Is it better? No, but I don’t think it’s really any worse. It’s just riding a straight line right now. I hope it gets better.
What new artists do impressed you? Who have you heard that you feel really stands out?
At one point when Earl Sweatshirt first came I thought, “Oh my God. He’s incredible.” I thought he was pretty dope. The new stuff I haven’t heard so I can’t say about present day. I’ve only seen one video. I like Tyler [The Creator] too. A lot of the songs he makes are very hit or miss, but he does his own thing and he has his own sound. I can appreciate that. I’m not mad at the whole A$ AP Mob at all. Joey Bada$ $ and his crew Pro Era. Killer Mike, though he’s been out for a minute. Stalley I thought was impressive.
There’s a bunch of kids that really make music for the sake of making it and enjoying it and advancing the art. I have a problem when people try and extract from the music and not try and give something to the music. Try to elevate it, make it better, or give it a different perspective we haven’t heard before. If you’re going to have fun with, have fun with it, but don’t go, “I’m going to destroy this. I’m going to make my money and I’m out. My father owns a paint store. I’m good regardless.” Those things bother me.
I noticed that you interviewed Riff Raff recently. He gets a lot a flack because people feel like he’s mocking the culture or trying to take advantage of the culture. From your conversation with him what did you take from what he’s trying to do with his rap career?
[laughs] I knew you was going to head into the Riff Raff thing because he’s what you feel is example of what I just said. Before he got on I was like, “this dude.” I’m looking at his hair, looking at his videos, listening to his rhymes, and I’m thinking he’s a cornball. That’s my first impression, but after I interviewed him… I’m not going to say I’m a Riff Raff fan. The other guys on the show with me are Riff Raff fans. I’m not necessarily a fan, but I see where he’s coming from. He’s a clown. He’s an exaggerated Hip Hop person.
If you were to draw someone on a piece of paper like kids use to be back in the day with the Adidas and the chain and the Kangol, he’s that dude. He’s exaggerated. His thing is I’m not trying to get nothing. I’m not trying be nothing. I’m just having fun. You can’t be mad at him. If you wanna go “he’s taking advantage of the culture” be mad at the people who follow him and support him. The people make him at the end of the day. You gotta understand the people who like him aren’t real Hip Hop heads anyway. They’re usually quirky kids who live in Middle America. I can’t relate to that. Nor can my true Hip Hop heads, but he has his own audience. Those people who support him will probably never support Rakim or certain people. There just happens to be there’s a bunch of kids that like him.
Do you ever sit back and reflect on your impact on the culture?
I don’t know my impact on the culture until I read it somewhere. I don’t sit and go, “Do you know who I am or what I’ve done?” It’s not until I’ve read it somewhere like years back it was “you’re the first one to do skits” or recently 3 Feet High and Rising was put into the Library of Congress along with “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and all these classics. I don’t acknowledge these things until I read it or people tell me, and even then I don’t sit and reflect on it.
The one thing I do reflect on as far as what I’ve done is the ability to take care of my family. It’s a pride thing. I hate the “poor black kid story,” but I’m the first person to own my own house. I’m the first person to finish college in my family. I took care of my mom until she passed away. She was able to retire. I bought my brother a car. I helped my sister buy a house. My kids are going through school. It’s things like that. I was able to do all this off of something that I love, and I kind of got ridiculed for it growing up.
You have to remember in the ‘80’s Hip Hop was looked at as a fad. Even my brother told me to quit. He was like, “Mr. Magic, they took him off the air. Hip Hop is dying.” Being teased as a kid, I went through a lot of adversity. At the end of the day I was able to become something that I never thought I’d become. I went way beyond my wildest dreams. So the accolades are great, but if I have the time to sit down and reflect that means I’m not doing anything. When I get to the point where I can really reflect, that means Paul has really retired and there’s no work on the plate.
Follow Prince Paul on Twitter @DJPrincePaul