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

De La Soul “Ring, Ring, Ring” (1991)

Album: De La Soul Is Dead

Label: Tommy Boy

Prince Paul: “You know what’s crazy? And it’s weird because Heavy D just passed. When I did ‘Ring, Ring, Ring,’ it was when I made like a dozen beats per day. I remember having a meeting with Puffy at Uptown. It was about a month before I started the second De La album.

“Puffy wanted to meet up with me because they just signed Father MC, and they were working on a new Heavy D album. So I gave him a tape and I never heard anything back. We started the De La record, and the first song we recorded was ‘Ring, Ring, Ring’ since I had the beat and everything.

 

Heavy D was just like, ‘Oh, come on, man!’ And he just went on and on about me not giving him that beat. De La’s my family and they come first. I told Puff, ‘Yo, I haven’t heard from you for more than a month.’ So ironically, Heavy D used that same beat mad years later. He just would not get denied.

 

“Next day I get a call, and it’s Puffy on the line, and Heavy D in the background. I hear the beat for ‘Ring, Ring, Ring’ in the background and I hear Puff saying, ‘Yo, Paul! Heavy wants this beat.’ And then Heavy gets on the phone like, ‘Yo, Paul. What’s up, man? What’s up with this beat?’ And I was like, ‘Yo, man. I’m sorry, man. I’m using it for the De La record.’

“Heavy was just like, ‘Oh, come on, man!’ And he just went on and on about me not giving him that beat. De La’s my family and they come first. I told Puff, ‘Yo, I haven’t heard from you for more than a month.’ So ironically, Heavy D used that same beat mad years later. He made a beat out of the same loop, and did a song with it. He just would not get denied.

“It was just a beat I had around. De La liked the original song, which is where the hook came from. And they were singing that song to the melody of the loop. At the time we played jokes on each other.

“We used to rate the popularity of De La by acting as if we’re working for a record label. So we would get demo tapes from different people, and the joke was like, ‘Yo, here’s Paul’s number, I’m sure he can hook you up.’

“We would just pass each other’s numbers off, which was hilarious, but after a while it became annoying. Because random dudes just called me, and said, ‘Yo, I just spoke to Maseo, and he said that you can hook me up.’ That was the running joke in the song. It’s like everybody passing on the buck to somebody else in the group.

“The second album was probably a lot longer than the first one. Matter of fact, it was actually longer than most hip-hop albums in general. On the first album we did this thing giving everything names.

 

We would get demo tapes from different people, and the joke was like, ‘Yo, here’s Paul’s number, I’m sure he can hook you up.’

 

“Run-DMC and Beastie Boys came out and they had 12 records on their albums. To me that was a lot of songs, because at the time your typical album had only eight or 10 songs. They were oftentimes instrumentals of the songs. They weren’t even full albums.

“When Run-DMC and Beastie Boys came out with their records, it was mind blowing, like, ‘Yo, more bang for the buck.’ So when we did the De La record I said, ‘Yo, we’re going to name everything. So when people see the list of the album they can go, ‘Yo, that’s crazy. Look how many songs I’ve got.’ And it was a marketing thing I had in my head.

“And nobody had done that at the time. That was probably the first rap record that had a ton of records listed on the back. And what’s weird is that people followed suit after that, but not getting what I did. They were just thinking a ton of records are cool.

“We didn’t have a super long record. It wasn’t like front to back, three hours long. It was just a lot of small things in between. So that kind of set the trend. And then in the second album we just recorded a lot. And it had bonus tracks and extra things. But when we got down to Buhloone Mindstate, we snapped back to reality, and just recorded typical length albums.”

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