Damn. I haven't blogged in almost a year. I didn't even do one for my 888 and that was one of the best DJ experiences of my career. I guess I just stopped blogging cuz it's too geeky. I mean, I always knew it was and did it anyway, but one day I said to myself, "no more" and that was that. I haven't even gotten on twitter yet (although every time I promise myself I WON’T do something, I end up doing it). Well, a few friends of mine have been asking about the mix I did with Prince Paul and why I haven't written anything about it and I got to thinking about the blog thing, so here you go.
First of all, my career over the past few years has been one dream come true after another. Schoolly D (or his people) hit me with a friend request on myspace last week and I was so excited, I told my wife about how my childhood idol contacted me. She said "you already told me about that” and I said, “that’s impossible cuz it just happened”. She said, “well you always tell me about this person was your idol and that person was your idol, so who really is it?" and she's kinda right. I brush shoulders with a lot of my childhood heros. And I'm sure that's how Kanye felt when he did the song with DJ Premier, Rakim, and KRS One. Well, Prince Paul is one of those guys to me. I'm halfway embarrassed if he reads this, but fck it.
I was already a fan of Paul’s productions without reading the fine print on the back with Stetsasonic, but when De La Soul came out with "Plug Tunin", it changed my life. I actually have video footage somewhere of me dancing to that song back in '89 when I had no idea how to dance (I still don't). And it WASN’T a dance song. Little did I know what I'd be in store for when "3 Feet High and Rising" came out. Everyone I know has strong words for that album, but those who followed the morphing of hip hop from 1979 to 1989 know what I'm talking about. I'm sure those who discovered hip hop after 1989 have gone back to that album as well. Paul is best known for bringing a sense of humor to rap, which is probably why Chris Rock called on him to produce his albums, but “3 Feet High” wasn't all about the jokes and I'm not even suggesting they were the first to take hip hop in that direction. Biz and Beasties had fun too. It was about the originality. Taking chances. They painted a picture with that album and held my attention throughout which is always hard to do with me. Most albums, hip hop or otherwise, only catch me for about half the songs. That album had SO MANY singles released to the public, but really any song on there could've been a single. And the shorter non-songs like "Delacratic" and "Take It Off" were some of my favorites.
Fast forward to 1997. I get asked to do my first US tour, sharing the bill with Cut Chemist. Before that tour, I knew Cut, but never really kicked it with him. On that tour, we got along great cuz we were both record collector geeks with a sense of humor and both Libras. Even though we had to share a hotel room, we really didn't get in a single argument the whole tour (other than fighting over the rare stuff in the used record stores). Our tour manager Jazzbo was a creative guy who also put a teenage DJ sensation A-Trak and legendary DJ/producer Prince Paul on the tour with us for select dates. A-Trak did the north dates and Paul did the south. It's no wonder that tour was voted "tour of the year" by the fans of Urb magazine back then. It was my first time not only meeting, but spending a lot of time with A-Trak (who I knew nothing about at the time) and Prince Paul (who was a major influence on my career) At first, I was a little reserved around Paul cuz you never know who has the over-inflated ego when you meet them in person, but once I got to know him, he was thankfully down to earth and outgoing. He treated Cut and I as equals, not as subordinates (like a lot of established artists have a rep for doing). That made a lasting impression on me.
Paul and I have stayed in touch through the years and have always talked about doing something together. When I started the 7" series for Stones Throw, I asked him to give me a track for that, which he thought was a good idea, but I never stayed on top of the idea and neither did he. But I'd see him at shows from time to time and we'd catch up as much as you can in a loud nightclub. With the podcast series I've been doing with Stones Throw, I thought a mix with him would be great. I thought he might say no because it’s a lot of work with no money involved, getting all the songs together and piecing it together like an album, but he agreed. I had a gig out in NY in December, so I changed my flight to stay an extra day and took the train out to Long Island to meet up with him and turn it into a reality.
Honestly, I didn’t think we’d get the live stuff done in one day, but we did a lot of prep work and post work. We both agreed on the pimp/playboy theme cuz he used to call me Playboy Wolf as a joke. He knew me 10 years ago when I was single and ready to mingle and teased me about it ever since. My mom even gave me a hard time one day about “being a cad”, which I never heard of, but looked it up and it basically meant a “male ho”. And that was just cuz I had no interest in commitment. I wasn’t leading anyone on or hurting anyone (at least in my eyes). I’m now happily married to a girl with a sense of humor as out there as mine and she supported the idea of the mix before and after hearing it. She helped me pick some of the songs and her favorite is “Gentle Persuasion”. Good taste.
So I get to Paul’s house and we go to work. We share music and ideas and basically figure out a game plan. Now in the past, my mixtapes are generally themed and I usually start with a slow BPM and work my way up, mixing everything on beat. With Paul, he challenged that and reminded me that it’s not all about the mixing when you’re listening to it at home. It’s about the arranging. So we kept this in mind and picked 3 or four songs that mixed together, then threw in an interlude and changed the tempos. The songs are a combination of rap and soul/funk from the 80’s and 90’s with some strange unreleased demos I’ve gotten through the years thrown in for good measure. It was fun telling the story with the music and the theme turned out to be much more complex than what “playboys or pimps” some men like to pride themselves in being. It’s all about men chasing women, but some men are cads and some are losers and some in between. I went throughout high school without a Valentine, so I should know.
Based on the mix we did, I convinced Paul to come to LA and do a show with me in honor of it all. We wanted to do it on Valentines Day, but that day was already booked months in advance with every club we contacted. We ended up locking in the day before which is a Friday the 13th and ends up being a blessing in disguise. It’s the anti-valentine party. Paul and I are spinning all love and lust based music videos. Some stooped fresh and some just stoopid. I convinced Egyptian Lover (another idol of mine who built a career off of being smooth with the ladies) to share the bill with us too, so that’s double the fun for me and with Mayer Hawthorne and Dam-Funk rounding out the bill with their own songs of amour, we’re in there. I’ve gotten a few messages from people flying out from other cities just to see the show, so that's a good start.