Prince Paul Politics of the Busine$$

[Razor & Tie; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles:  hip-hop
Others: De La Soul, Gravediggaz

The clown prince of hip-hop producers has returned with another satirical look at the game and culture of hip-hop. Politics of the Busine$$ is the new instalment in Prince Paul’s long list of hip-hop releases focused on exposing the art of hip-hop and its peaks and valleys. In 1999 Prince Paul released the near perfect A Prince Among Thieves, the story about Tariq, a struggling hip-hopper that gets involved in drugs and crime to make enough money to record a demo. The album is a roller coaster ride through many stages of life as a young man with dreams. Having a roof over his head, a girlfriend and an honest paying job was what Tariq set adrift by involving himself with the wrong individuals, one being his best friend True. The album ends tragically to show how the hip-hop lifestyle can be very dangerous at times. 

Now, Prince Paul wants to expose you to the Politics of the Busine$$. The opening skit is perhaps a continuation of where A Prince Among Thieves left us, as Paul pitches the new album to a record executive who seems to like it. Further promotion of the album is discussed and the record is released. One year later, the record company drops Paul because his record is considered “backpacking music”. The tone is set for the remainder of the album as Prince Paul exposes many shady outcomes of recording a hip-hop album or any album for that matter. Greedy girlfriends, suspicious dot.coms, fashion, greed, power and much more are the focal elements on this record. In less than an hour, Prince Paul shows us hip-hop’s ugly side of business.

But what Prince Paul has to say is not the only thing that makes him one of the top producers in the game. Politics of the Busine$$ is intertwined with skits followed by great beats produced by Prince Paul himself. All of the beats are individualized for each of the artists appearing on the album.  And so many impressive artists from yesterday and today’s hip-hop game can be found on this record. Paul creates a phenomenal mix of hardcore beats mixed with old school hodgepodge. Check out the refurbished beat on “People, Places & Things” for a true look at Paul’s successful beat conception. This is Prince Paul and hip-hop’s beautiful side of the business.

So how do the two sides of this record mix together? With mixed reviews. Tracks like “So What” and “What I Need” are true hip-hop anthems and are definitely the standout tracks. Unfortunately, Prince Paul takes this “backpacking” theme too far by including “Beautifully Absurd”, an acoustic song about a cheating girlfriend on the record. And as for the skits, (what Mr. Paul is known for), they are weaker than on previous album releases. Mr. Len’s “Ralph Nader” may be the only skit worth mentioning from the entire album. 

If you are new to the world of Prince Paul, I suggest you start with De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising or De La Soul…Is Dead.   But for a concept album about the drama and business of hip-hop, Politics of the Busine$$ surely gets the job done very well. Unfortunately, as a hip-hop album, it falls short and will probably be long forgotten in the bargain bins of hip-hop record stores. Let's just hope some aspiring young artist will find it and listen to it before getting involved in the music monster called hip-hop.

1. A day in the life
2. Intro
3. Make room
4. The driveby
5. So what
6. Drama queen
7. Not trying to hear that
8. Politics of the business
9. Crhyme pays
10. What I need
12. The word F
13. Controversial Headlines
14. My bookie
15. Beautifully absurd
16. Controversial part 2
17. Ralph nader
18. People, places & things
19. A life in a day
20. My life