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Prince Paul: Politics of the Business (Razor and Tie)

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Paul fulfills every maniacally spinning dog’s dream by successfully biting his own ass.

For anyone remotely down with Prince Paul, Politics of the Business is the hip-hop equivalent of the last 40 minutes of Spike Jonze’s Adaptation: an inside joke to those who understand what the artist is all about, an ironic critique of the conventions and clichés that dominate their particular medium. And like the last 40 minutes of Adaptation, it leaves a funny taste in your mouth that is neither especially good nor bad. Like aspirin or yesterday’s coffee.

“Since biting is no longer a crime I gave it a try (a painful process needless to say).” This is how Paul summarizes the Politics project. Truthfully—and ironically, I suppose—a few of the ersatz tracks are dope. “So What,” a clear Dr. Dre ripoff, is banging. “Contro-versial Headlines AKA Champion Sound (Part I)” reeks of a Mobb Deep track, while “Controversial…(Part II)” finds Paul going the electro-synth-pop route, a lá the Neptunes. Both are oddly satisfying. But the album’s crowning gem is “Chubb Rock Can You Please Pay Paul the $2200 You Owe Him (People, Places and Things),” on which the mimicry process comes full circle and Paul fulfills every maniacally spinning dog’s dream by successfully biting his own ass. Chubb Rock, Wordsworth, and MF Doom show up to rip apart a beat that Paul originally released in 1991 as “Pease Porridge Hot” on De La Soul Is Dead.

Paul is a funny guy. He thanks Fabio, Halle Berry, and Jeff Goldblum in his liner notes. But the overall message of Politics is serious: the music industry is a truly horrible place to go to work every day. Listen to Chuck D and Ice-T speak on the album’s title track, and you’ll begin to understand where Paul is coming from. Politics is a tremendous “fuck you” to the business and has a few moments of brilliance. But in the end, wouldn’t we all rather hear Prince Paul just being Prince Paul?

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