PRINCE PAUL with ACEYALONE, LITTLE BROTHER, EYEDEA and ODDITIES at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Saturday (June 14). $19.50. 416-870-8000.
Timbaland and Pharrell might rule the lucrative hiphop production world these days, but it's doubtful if their beats would be half as fresh without the pioneering work of Prince Paul.The Long Island producer got his start with Brooklyn crew Stetsasonic, but it was his work with De La Soul that set Paul apart. De La's 3 Feet High And Rising remains a landmark of sample-based hiphop, an avalanche of dusty soul beats, obscure pop snippets, instructional language records and, for the first time ever, comedy sketches. Sampling never seemed so alive, and the record, as well as his continued work with De La Soul, gave Prince Paul direction, but at a cost.
As talented as he is with a box of records and a sampler, Prince Paul's skit shtick has turned his solo records into novelty albums. His recent Politics Of The Business, a look at his unpleasant experiences in the music industry, is more comedy than music, entertaining to listen to once but a snooze after that.
The eye-popping original beats remain but are swamped by the overbearing concept of the record itself. It's a shame. Making this kind of joke-riddled comedy album sets him apart from the rest of the hiphop scene but also paints him into a corner.
Paul has the pull to get people like De La Soul, Erick Sermon and MF Doom on his record. It would be interesting to see what he could do if the jokes didn't overwhelm the music.
What Paul will do at his Opera House gig is unclear, but I'd pay just to hear him root through his deep, deep crates.