Rap pioneer and producer ‘Prince Paul’ Huston (De La Soul, Handsome Boy Modeling School) has been lauded by critics for his groundbreaking sample-heavy style and beloved by hardcore hip-hop-heads for his off-kilter sense of humor. But apparently being a luminary is bringing in neither the respect nor the cash from the established music industry.

Paul’s latest solo album Politics of Business, his first since leaving Tommy Boy, is a bile-filled concept record that lashes out at the “hip-pop” that has dominated airwaves and consumer’s wallets. With a cynical “can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” the legendary producer drops his trademark cut-and-paste style and knowingly subverts the ultra-jiggy beats of the trite mainstream crap he’s rallying against.

The irony of one of the most original producers in the game just ripping off the Neptunes, like every other hack come-lately does (including Pharrell himself), is precisely the kind of mind-screw the Prince is shooting for.

Of course Paul can only hide his true colors so much, and for all his efforts to sound like everybody else – well he can’t. While the manditory skits aren’t quite as funny as on past records and generally the performances are a bit lackluster, the power and unity of Paul’s vision of a hip-hop world where money doesn’t drive every decision and creativity trumps thug posing carries the album past it’s shortcomings.

Rating: 3 stars.

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