Hip Hop Gold Dust

Artist: Prince PaulTitle: Hip Hop Gold DustRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Aside from his cinematic, satirical albums, Prince Paul was good for just dope beats first. While his bodies of work have been widely toted and analyzed, it seems to have been years since fans were tripping off stand-alone records that the Long Islander has produced. After mixed reviews from 2003’s Politics of Business, Paul vowed to push his dynamic musical envelope backwards – in the direction of his Stetsasonic, De La Soul, and 3rd Bass hey-day. Hip Hop Gold Dust (Antidote) is not an album, but a compilation of rare material from those years, plus newer material within that motif. If Prince Paul has lost you along the way, you’re gonna get scooped up quick.

The temptress of the album is 1992’s unreleased “My Mindstate,” which finds Paul and De La Soul back in classic working order. A short drum and bass loop never grows tired, as Dave’s wandering vocals and Pos’ interactive rap meshes over Maseo’s scratches. The mere attitude of the group channels the craftily bugged glee that evolved from the D.A.I.S.Y. Age to the Buhloone Mindstate era. Other unreleased treats include a live 1986 Stetsasonic WNYU performance that front-pages Paul’s brutal scratching skills in hi-fi. Work from other genres such as the Dub-Soul fusion of Resident Alien’s “Alone” still warms the ear, almost fifteen years later. Other leftovers like LA Symphony’s “Broken Now” and May May’s “Real Man” don’t register as well. Regardless, it’s clear that Hip-Hop Gold Dust has been in the making for a while, as Mr. Len and Paul’s fairy-tale interludes were recorded for this same project four or so years ago.

One of the rare-but-released treats, the RZA remix of Gravediggaz’ “1-800-Suicide” shines. Deeply rooted in a similar drum arrangement to “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber,” the classic gore raps are given a crescendo by a hyper RZA’s enthusiastic rhymes. Earlier relics like 1990’s “Top of the Hill” by Long Island’s Groove B Chill show Paul’s thick-sample, dynamic style at work. In the insert, Paul provides anecdotes to each record, offering nice context and reflection.

Like Lord Finesse’s From the Crates to the Files this unifies the rare with the unreleased, both in celebration of a past sound, and a more experimental Hip-Hop period. Though it lacks the micromanagement of a true Prince Paul album, Hip Hop Gold Dust shows how much Paul is aware of himself and his past. From the prolific work with De La and Stetsa, to his pet-projects such as Gravediggaz or Big Sha, Paul sprinkled his dust into songs and magic ensued – almost always. Hip-Hop’s own version of Andy Kaufman proves his old stunts still get a crazy reaction.