Words: David Ma
More than just a beatmaker, Prince Paul brings personality to the table: a raunchy Morgan Freeman sound alike, a sound bite from the defunct TV comedy Get A Life, or a well-timed fart joke all have made their way into his work. He also pioneered the classic rap skit, a device in which he's employed anyone from Xzibit to Father Guido Sarducci to add a context and color to the narrative. As the Undertaker of the Gravediggaz he's also been credited with ushering in rap's horrorcore genre (something he deflected during our interview with an evil "Ha ha ha!" followed by a fart noise).
From his contributions as a youngin' to Stetsasonic, to his time with De La as Plug Four, to his Handsome Boy Modeling School collab with Automator, Paul's quirky approach is as sought after as it is copied. He’s made mad classics, and here we proudly present the 10 favorite sample flips of this conventionally unconventional clown prince among thieves.
1. Jeru the Damaja – “Come Clean” (Payday, 1994)
Producer: DJ Premier
Sample Source: Shelly Manne – “Infinity” (Mainstream, 1972)
Prince Paul: To me, samples freak me out most when I have the record myself but never picked up on what another producer did. This was used by Premier for Jeru’s famous “Come Clean” and is one of those cases. I was like "Yo, I’ve had that record forever but not ever even thought of using it!" No one knew around at the time really knew what it was and the first chance I got, I ran up to Preemo and said, "Shelly Manne!" [laughs] He was like, "How’d you know?" and I was like, "Just let your lawyers know that I know what that sample is!" [laughs]. That song is now obviously classic but that sample is nuts.
2. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin’ but a 'G' Thang" (Death Row, 1992)
Producer: Dr. Dre
Sample Source: Leon Haywood - “I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You” (20th Century, 1979)
Prince Paul: Dre used this for “'G' Thang”! It freaked me out because I never envisioned it as a hip-hop song. It’s one of those that prove Dre has a good ear because he took the best, most catchy part; even though the song is already so dope standing on its own. The first time I heard it in a subway by some dude who was handing out Dre promo tapes right before The Chronic dropped. Dre’s latest work at that point was Efil4zaggin, which I loved, but this was a far cry from that sound.
3. De La Soul – “Peas Porridge” (Tommy Boy, 1991)
Producer: Prince Paul
Sample Source: Harrell & Sharon Lucky – “Peas Porridge Hot” (Melody House, 1974)
Prince Paul: De La’s “Peas Porridge” is one that always struck me if I do say so myself [laughs]. Our friend, Double B, found the sample off this weird children’s album and I took it and flipped it for De La on “Peas Porridge.” We were all buggin’ off it and I thought let’s make a song from it [laughs]. Samples like these are always cool to me because they’re so left field that you’d never ever think of coming across in the first place let alone taking it and making it it’s own thing.
4. MC Paul Barman – "Bleeding Brain Grow" (Coup D'etat, 2002)
Producer: Prince Paul
Sample Source: Mike Curb Congregation –“Mickey Mouse March” (Disneyland Records, 1975)
Prince Paul: This is the one I used for that MTV promo spot after “Potholes In My Lawn” came out in like ‘88 or ‘89. I played this Mickey Mouse Club record that I had actually heard through Afrika Bambaataa. It was mind blowing to hear Bambaataa play a Mickey Mouse record that had a break! It freaked me out! Bambaataa would play anything and everything and make it all fit. He introduced us all to so many different genres. I flipped when I heard this and used it for that De La joint when I finally came across it about a year later.
5. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – “A Touch of Jazz” (Jive, 1987)
Producer: DJ Jazzy Jeff
Sample Source: Marvin Gaye - “'T' Plays It Cool” (Tamla, 1972)
Prince Paul: From early on, Jazzy Jeff used Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man record for the track “A Touch of Jazz”. It’s actually an old school break that a lot of us already heard because we all know Marvin’s incredible catalog. Again, it’s one of those where you can’t think of anyone doing anything with it even though you’ve heard it a million times. The way he flipped it was simple yet different and I can’t really recall samples being used like that - at least at that point in time. Or maybe it’s just ‘cause I love the sample so much [laughs].
6. Tribe Called Quest – “Verses From the Abstract” (Jive, 1991)
Sample Source: Heatwave – “The Star of a Story” (Epic, 1976)
Prince Paul: Tribe’s Low End Theory used this awesome track called “Star of a Story” off Heatwave’s Central Heating album. I thought about using that but they used it in such a good, slick way that I didn’t dare touch it [laughs]! The different types of records they used and just how many layers they placed and where they placed was just so crazy. The diggin’ they do is insane.
7. Beastie Boys – “Get It Together” (Grand Royal, 1994)
Producer: Beastie Boys
Sample Source: Eugene McDaniels – “Headless Heroes” (Atlantic, 1971)
Prince Paul: Speaking of Tribe and Q-Tip, that one Beastie Boys track they did together was nuts! The hook is totally ridiculous. I was listening to it and just kept listening and kept wondering who was singing. I just dropped it and kinda forgot about it until one day I’m going through my records randomly and heard it! You know how if you have tons of records you just overlook shit? It’s something I’d never ever use but they got that from that one Eugene McDaniels’ Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. They used it for the hook and it’s so dope!
8. Diamond D ft. John Dough - "Flowin'" (Mercury, 1997)
Producer: Diamond D
Sample Source: David Sancious - "Piktor's Metamorphosis" (Epic, 1976)
Prince Paul: Diamond D used this and I always praised him for it. It was off his second album, Hatred, Passions and Infidelity. When you admire another producer's work, there are always one or two songs that strike you more than others. This is a track that no one really talks about so I want to touch on it. I remember because a lot of producers talk about records in a very matter-of-fact way. And when Diamond mentioned the artist to me, I didn't know what he was talking about. I looked at him like he was crazy and he looked at me like I was crazy! [laughs] I'm not a DJ Shadow or Pete Rock or Diamond D - these cats rattle off rare records as if everyone knows about 'em [laughs].
9. Nelly – “Hot In Herre’” (Universal, 2002)
Producer: The Neptunes
Sample Source: Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers – “Bustin' Loose” (Source, 1978)
Prince Paul: Man, this one is a good one. I was at my place listening to the original sample for this with Doug E. Fresh trying to figure out a way to use the melodic parts. It was about a year before "Hot In Herre" came out. We were just messin' with it and I swear it was exactly a year later this single comes out and blows the fuck up! I saw Doug E. later and he was like, "Yo you were right Paul!" and I was like "I know I was right!" [laughs]. It's just a trip because this is one of those tracks everyone's got in their record sleeves and Pharrell ended up flippin' it first!
10. Wu-Tang Clan – “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F’ Wit” (Loud, 1993)
Sample Source: Allen Toussaint Orchestra – “Theme From Underdog” (M.C.R. Productions, 1989)
Prince Paul: RZA using this is just crazy! I was around actually when they made 36 Chambers and as a result I know that there’s a little sound effect RZA triggers to cover up parts of the actual sample. He tried hiding a scratch on the record with little shakers or claps! [laughs] And you know what? It’s actually my record! RZA used it and never gave it back [laughs]. He was at the crib making ODB’s record and I came by and saw it and said ‘Yo this is mine!’ He just looked at me and smiled [laughs]. I grabbed it right back and left! [laughs]