Prince Paul Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records (Part 1)

De La Soul “Plug Tunin'” (1988)

Album: 3 Feet High and Rising

Label: Tommy Boy

Prince Paul:3 Feet High and Rising was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to do all the things I would have done. Having control and being that dude, which with Stetsasonic I couldn’t have done, or wasn’t positioned to do. Or maybe not even having the knowledge of doing.

“When I had De La Soul that was just my pet project. Like I can do anything on that and they look up to me. I was the man in their situation. It just made the creative process, and taking control a lot different.

 

There was a music teacher where I went to junior high school in Amityville, who was putting out a record with this artist. So the music teacher asked me to come in to lay down a beat. When I went to lay the beat down, Maseo was there as the artist’s DJ. By the way, the artist’s name was Gangsta B. [Laughs.]

 

“The De La guys and I all went to school together. We were all in grade order. I would be in the 12th, Dave or Trugoy was in the 11th, Pos would be in the 10th, and Maseo would be in the 9th. And I was kind of known as the DJ in our high school.

“I kind of became that dude because I was always battling back then. I don’t do it now, but I was cutting with all the tricks and stuff. I kind of built up a rep. When I joined Stetsasonic, I became that dude from a small town in Long Island like, ‘Yo, he’s that dude who made a record.’

“With that being said, there was a music teacher where I went to junior high school in Amityville, who was putting out a record with this artist. So the music teacher asked me to come in to lay down a beat. When I went to lay the beat down, Maseo was there as the artist’s DJ. By the way, the artist’s name was Gangsta B. [Laughs.]

“So I was there programming the beat, and I was like, ‘Man, this is wack. I wouldn’t do it like this.’ And the music teacher was like, ‘This is great!’ And Maseo and I were looking at each other like, ‘Oh, my God. This is horrible.’ And later Maseo approached me, and said, ‘Yo, I got a group I think you might like. It’s called De La Soul. I’ll bring the tape by your house later.’

“He brought a tape, and it was a rough of ‘Plug Tunin’.’ It blew my mind. So I was like, ‘Yo, come back tomorrow with the rest of your group. I’m going to flip this demo.’ So I took it, overdubbed it, added other samples, and rearranged it. I played it for them and they were like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy.’

 

It’s such an odd record, nothing predated that, and it sounds like throwing whatever in the wind. You didn’t know where it was going to land. For touchy radio world back then to play that record is when I knew I won.

 

“So I said, ‘Let’s get together, get some money, get into a real studio, and record a professional demo.’ So the actual record you hear on the album, is the demo we made of ‘Plug Tunin’. There was a song called ‘Freedom of Speak’ that we did, which was the B-side. That’s how it started.

“I was super happy when I heard ‘Plug Tunin’ on the radio. I mean with Stetsasonic we also had ‘Go Stetsa I,’ which was a big song, especially at clubs in New York. It received some plays on WBLS, but I was extra happy when I heard ‘Plug Tunin’ on the radio, and receiving a little bit of daytime run on the main stations in New York.”

“It’s such an odd record, nothing predated that, and it sounds like throwing whatever in the wind. You didn’t know where it was going to land. For touchy radio world back then to play that record is when I knew I won.”

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