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splendid > reviews > 8/15/2003
Prince Paul
Prince Paul
Politics of the Business
Razor & Tie


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Not Tryin' to Hear That"

Buy me now
For all y'all who don't know, Prince Paul's resume reads like this: DJ for groundbreaking Brooklyn troupe Stetsasonic, production duties on De La Soul's epochal 3 Feet High and Rising, co-production work in Handsome Boy Modeling School, his much-lauded collaboration with Dan the Automator, and membership (alongside RZA and Frukwan) in horror-core kingpins Gravediggaz. In addition, he's released (under his own name) two of the finest hip-hop albums of the past five years, Psychoanalysis: What Is It? and A Prince Among Thieves, and has worked with MC Paul Barman, the Beastie Boys and Big Daddy Kane, to name but a few.

When it comes to hip-hop, it's important never to mistake hyperbole for respect, and while it might seem excessive to laud Paul's previous accomplishments, the fact remains that he was bangin' out tracks and tweakin' turntables while Timbaland was saving up to buy his first sampler. That isn't to say that Prince Paul was ever the savior of Top 40 radio, but his deft touch with a sampler and buoyant beats always yielded cutting edge fare. Which brings us to Politics of the Business.

Politics of the Business manifestly skewers the very record company politics that brought it to life. Bookended by a pair of skits ("A Day in the Life", "A Life in the Day") in which Dave Chappelle alternately blows smoke up Paul's ass and lambastes his tracks as non-commercial tripe, the record makes its point clear from the jump: you've gotta take what you can from the business before the business takes everything from you. The intentionally blatant consumerism of "princepaulonline.com" is as hysterical as it is deadly serious, while the bumping title-track is all forthright truth courtesy of living legends Chuck D and Ice-T, and the poignant "Beautifully Absurd" wonderfully encapsulates the album's slightly paranoid yet astutely forthright aesthetic. Goofball skit "The Drive By" lampoons the absurdity of current mainstream rap, and the droll "Chubb Rock Can You Please Pay Paul the $2200 You Owe Him (People, Places and Things)" is equal parts self-conscious parody and beat bangin' underground bling.

While Politics of the Business follows in the conceptual footsteps of its forbears, its all-too-literal sense of moral responsibility does get a tad tiresome, occasionally sagging into diluted dogma -- "Controversial Headlines AKA Champion Sound" parts one and two, for example, lose focus quickly, clouded by irreverent sociopolitical commentary. Still, those are minor misfires in a sturdy set; on the whole, Paul remains true to his convictions and his reputation.



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