Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Prince Paul

  • Psychoanalysis (What Is It?) [WordSound, 1996] A-
  • Prince Paul Presents a Prince Among Thieves [Tommy Boy, 1999] A
  • Politics of the Business [Razor & Tie, 2003] Choice Cuts
  • Itstrumental [Female Fun, 2005] Choice Cuts

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Psychoanalysis (What Is It?) [WordSound, 1996]
Melding classic reggae and Miami booty-bass, Muddy Waters harp and Schoolly-D scratch, cocktail vibes and sacred quartet, the Native Tongue beatmaster turned gravedigging heretic assembles "senseless skitstyle material" by "a motley crew of ill characters and cronies from around the way who resemble a P-Funk on crack (wait, P-Funk was on crack)" into a disturbing laff riot whose dramaturgy is more musical than De La Soul's songs. There's even a sweet-chorused romantic ballad about rape and homicide, two of each, but don't worry--they're only a dream, with a fake Viennese muttering eager encouragement in the background. A-

Prince Paul Presents a Prince Among Thieves [Tommy Boy, 1999]
The main thing wrong with this record is that it's too short at 77 minutes: character sketches like Kool Keith's ordnance man, Big Daddy Kane's pimp, and Chubb Rock's crime lord could easily be fleshed out. Deploying hip hop stereotypes of mythic proportions in a coherent fable, it isn't just one of the few hip hop albums ever to make you look forward to the next skit--it's the closest thing to a true rock opera you've ever heard. So root for Chris Rock to turn it into the movie few optioned properties become. And note that while the full meaning of the title track, for instance, depends on the story, the songs hold up when you program around the skits. I'm not claiming Tommy Boy can break the steady-funking Albert King jam "What U Got," where gangsta Sha and good kid Breeze have much love for each other. But I'm not claiming Sleater-Kinney's about to go gold, either. A

Politics of the Business [Razor & Tie, 2003]
"So What," "Chubb Rock Can You Please Pay Paul the $2200 You Owe Him (People, Places and Things)" Choice Cuts

Itstrumental [Female Fun, 2005]
"MVU (Final Act)," "Yes, I Do Love Them Ho's!" Choice Cuts