or sixteen years, Paris has held the mic like a grudge, as his records have approached just under four million sold. Contemporary Hip-Hop may seem far removed from the socially and politically challenging records of the early 90s, but the themes arent. Sleeping With the Enemy dealt with a Middle East war, a Bush in office, and watered-down records dropping every Tuesday.
In 2006, Paris is still advancing his career. However, through his Guerilla Funk Records, hes also helping others like him. The admitted biggest undertaking yet for Paris may be Public Enemys forthcoming, Rebirth of a Nation album. Produced and penned almost entirely by the San Francisco rapper, this project is as radical in concept as it is in audio. Paris explains to AllHipHop.com his intentions for the record, as well as his role on the artistic and business responsibilities. Paris is a soul survivor from The Days of Old.
AllHipHop.com: We spoke to Chuck D. But I never got a sense of how Rebirth of a Nation came to fruition. How contacted whom, and so on?
Paris: Well, it goes back to [Public Enemys] Revolverlution record. I did a verse [Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need (Remix)on that. It had been a long time coming for us to actually work together. I told [Chuck] that Id get down on his project, and I wanted him to get down on the project I had comin up – Sonic Jihad, on a one hand wash the other type of thing. Both of those collaborations worked out well. So I approached him when he was out here at KPFA promoting his AOL Radio [show] or something. I told him, I wanted to produce a Public Enemy project. He was with it. He said, Go ahead, get started with it. This was maybe in the beginning of 04. One thing led to another and he said, Go ahead and write. Because I dont have a lot of time to do multiple things. He has hella s**t goin on with Public Enemy. They got multiple albums, radio shows, TV related projects. He said its cool to do the collab though. So I put it together, called up [Professor] Griff, and took it all out to Long Island to Griff and Chucks studio.
AllHipHop.com: Its almost nonchalant the way that its coming out, but you wrote all the lyrics?
Paris: Uh, the majority of them. Two or three songs were remixes of the original.
AllHipHop.com: I asked Chuck this too. But as the producer, you remixed and retitled I from Theres a Poison Goin On. What was it about that record that attracted you?
Paris: Well, there are a couple of songs on the projects that had been released since they left Def Jam that I dig a lot. Its just my feeling that a lot of what theyve released since they left Def Jam actually, hasnt been heard by anybody. Theres a very select core group of people who follow Public Enemy, and will get down with them, and stand by them, no matter what through the good albums, through the bad albums, through the hey-day and through the fading of the limelight, so to speak. If theres one thing I hate doing, its being put in a position where I feel like material may be wasted. I dont want anybody from PE to take that the wrong way. But I just like feel like with the promotional effort that was gonna be put forth with Rebirth of a Nation, I wanted to give it as much shine as possible, and I wanted original contributions from artists that may not have been heard on a large scale. The readily accessible material that I had access to, [cause] I couldnt go to Def Jam, was some of the material from [Theres a Poison Goin On]. [I really struck me as a song that was being honest in its approach. You can feel the heartfelt tone of it in what [Chuck] is sayin, and the way its delivered. Thats what draws me to most material nowadays is honesty. If you listen to T-K.A.S.H.s album, its very honest. Theres a lot humility in it too. Thats not to say that we wont get that ass if its time to ride. But you dont have to be that way all the time. Im very pleased with this project.
AllHipHop.com: What was the purpose of this would you say? Cause Public Enemy will release two albums this year, whether on Guerilla Funk, SlamJamz, or wherever
Paris: My purpose with this project was not necessarily to recapture a snapshot in time, but to focus on the specific meat and potatoes elements that I love about Public Enemy. There was a certain production style a certain type of song that initially drew me into Public Enemy. I think thats kinda exemplified on the track Hard Rhymin, which is very scratch-intensive. Its not really a heavy-sample sound like The Bomb Squad used to do, because logistics prohibit that approach nowadays. But the structure of Rebirth of a Nation is supposed to mirror their better known efforts.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned the shorter reach on some of Public Enemys independent albums. Certainly, Sonic Jihad reached an impressive amount of people. As the CEO of Guerilla Funk, how do you intend to combat the market?
Paris: Chuck is adverse to spending money on promotions thats no secret there. Thats not on diss. Hell tell you that too, I dont spend money on s**t, I just let it sit. His approach is selling records over a period of time. My approach is to hit em, make a big awareness, and still sell a lot of records over a period of time. To make a dent in this environment where everybody and they mama got a rap record, you have to spend money on promotion. Theres a huge print campaign, an Internet campaign, television commercials, and there is a pretty intensive radio campaign. Its gonna be a pretty major undertaking.
AllHipHop.com: One of the albums special points is its guest-list. The Conscious Daughters and Kam are Guerilla Funk artists. These are veteran artists that ride with you. What sense of loyalty do you have as a businessman?
Paris: Loyalty is important. But more important, is the message. Guerilla Funk provides the artists that are on it a lot of flexibility to do what they want to do. At the same time, doin what you wanna do must fit into the confines of Guerilla Funk and what we wanna represent. We are self-censored. We are for the right reasons. If you wanna ride, you ridin for a revolutionary cause. Make a statement that is socially constructive as opposed to a lot of the negativity that we currently experience in the music industry. Kam is underrated like a mothaf**ka. Hes been around for a while, and consistently comes with heat that is unparalleled by so many, and for whatever reason, cannot find a home to call his own – same thing with dead prez. Theyll never be embraced by a major [again]. Even major-indies would rather have a G-Unit clone than ride with somebody like dead prez. So I said, F**k that s**t. Lets all get together and put this down. Ill finance it, and well make it happen.
AllHipHop.com: VH1 and MTV2 revisit controversial music moments a lot. They quickly go to NWA and Ice-T, but overlook you and 2 Live Crew a lot. As your legacy endures, do you want to be on those television specials for some of the things youve done?
Paris: It doesnt really matter. Im an economist, which is threatening to a lot of people in the industry because the industry is all about control. Guerilla Funk is a wild card situation, cause Im not controlled by anybodys financial interest. Im able to do and say and make and the material that I wanna do, when I wanna, how I wanna. If somebody doesnt recognize me like VH1, the ultimate musical corporate interest, then its still cool with me. Im still 3.8 million records deep, independently. You really cant kill me. Thats not being egotistical. That to me, is Im in the drivers seat making the kind of material that I feel needs to be made, and I dont care if you acknowledge it or not.
AllHipHop.com: With every interview, I like to revisit an artists song
Paris: — Bush Killa.
AllHipHop.com: Actually, The Days of Old. [both laugh] Tell me what specifically prompted that joint
Paris: With The Days of Old, the writing on the wall was quite some time ago, I was predicting the slow decline of quality and message in Hip-Hop. That was my commentary, ten years ago. The difference between the environment in Hip-Hop now and then, is night and day. Yeah, there are a lot of people making a lot more money now than then. The crude expense at which theyre making that money cant even be measured, because theres so much negativity infused in the community through s**t thats being put out by corporations that dont represent us. Its scary. There wasnt really any one defining moment. Sleeping With the Enemy was conceived as a result of the first Gulf War. My cousin went to go fight in that the anger and uncertainty that went into that. Hes alright now. But these Silver Spoons boys pulling the switches and deciding who fights, who lives, and who dies it was so much anger.
AllHipHop.com: Hows that angered changed?
Paris: It hasnt. Its still there. Now I have more tools available to me to counteract the propaganda of the s**t that surrounds us everyday. Your s**t really will end up in a garbage can too, if you send me material that sounds anything like the artists that a lot of these labels put out.
AllHipHop.com: To go out on a funny note. Through your website, you are easy to reach. However, theres a notice to artists who wish to get you to appear on their work, that they consider who you are and what you represent. That said, whats the craziest, or most unusual request you ever received?
Paris: Most of em know better now. [laughs] A lot of em, I cant really speak on it. There hasnt been anything thats been so far removed from what people expect. I havent really encountered anything thats been out-there. People that take the time to figure out how to reach me already know the parameters that they have to operate in. And I am a humorous motherf**ker, in case that doesnt come through. Everything is serious as a mothaf**ka, but our conditions is serious.