I truly, truly hope I’m not alone when I contend that Prince Paul is one of the best things to ever happen to rap music. From BDP to De La to Stetsasonic to the Gravediggaz to Handsome Boy Modeling School, Prince Paul has been the architect for some of the most challenging, creative and unapologetically FUNKY sounds in the rap music canon. Single-handedly, Prince Paul has catalyzed some of the most inspirational and irreverently unique moments in rap history, including his own cinematic Prince Among Thieves record (to this day the BEST concept-driven rap record) and the outrageously tongue-in-cheek “Politics of the Business”. Through it all, Prince Paul has displayed a mirthful, brazenly mischievous sense of humor in a field dominated by straight-faced, more gangsta-than-thou posturing, cultivating a colorful personality away from the glitter and glitz of the mainstream. Thus, it’s really no surprise that this record is yet another extension of Paul’s irrepressibly quirky wit, a lampoon project that sees the mad wizard finally going off the deep end, crafting a work that is wholly comic and virtually removed from the brilliance that has typified his career.
While “Politics of the Business” was crafted as an ironic lampoon of rap in its decline, and while Paul intended to make a farce of a record, his indomitable genius overwhelmed the aspirations of his project, and songs that were intended as jokes inadvertently backfired on Paul. The record was, in this reviewer’s mind, one of the best releases of the year, juxtaposing sardonic wit with Paul’s trademark sonic magic, proving that he could outdo the game’s most commercially acclaimed producers at their own game. This record, however, makes absolutely no sense. Maybe it’s Paul’s attempt to make up for the failed joke that was “Politics of the Business”.
Whatever it is, it’s all a bit silly and pretty hard to comprehend. Supposedly a concept album spoofing doo-wop troupes in the ’50s/’60s, Paul undermines this concept by referencing shuffling, sweltering funk (“Here Come the Dix”), true school dancehall (“Tears in My Eyes”), tripped-out downtempo (“When I Come Home To You”), smoldering Motown soul (“I Love You”) and trad early ’80s boom-bap (“Outro to Women”). The vocal performances, samples and lyrics are firmly aligned with the misogynistic theme of the record (it being, after all, a blueprint on how to pick up and treat yo’ woman), with an inebriated sounded deejay spouting such inane lines as “If you think you playing me, bitch, you better go play poolâ€¦I got a dick longer than your father”. Basically, imagine Handsome Boy Modelling School without the illustrious guest vocalists and with the brazen humour dial turned all the way to 11. To add insult to injury, Paul has stuck a 40 minute long track at the end of this EP, “Outro To Women”. Being the gullible bastard that I am, I sat around after the 3 minute mark, waiting for something to happen. What followed, of course, was 37 minutes of blatant, audacious, excruciating silence. GODDAMMIT!
Thankfully, such utter silliness is well and truly redeemed by the bonus DVD, an elaborate documentary detailing the tempestuous rise of this fictional troupe of well-coiffed playboys. The commentary on this is HI-LA-RIOUS, and I won’t spoil it for you by going into a play-by-play description, you have to see it! So there you are. One utter waste of plastic and one irresistibly schlocky, must-watch DVD. If you are a Prince Paul completist like I am, this is probably already on your list of priorities, though I find it hard to consider this any more than an insignificant smudge on his legacy, a footnote in his extensive catalogue that is better left forgotten. If you aren’t, find some way to watch the DVD and leave the CD alone, because unlike “Politics of the Business,” this joke has no kinks in its armour. Approach with extreme caution!