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

Stetsasonic “Sally” (1988)

Album: In Full Gear

Label: Tommy Boy

Prince Paul: “Producing and DJing went hand-in-hand. You probably have to give Grandmaster Flash due credit. Every DJ back in those days, their main goal was to have a beat box or a drum machine. Flash made that popular when he had a drum machine back in the early ’80s. And it was like, ‘Oh, what’s that? That’s not a record.’

 

The most notable one that I did, but did not get credit for, which bothers me until this day, is ‘Sally.’ Frukwan and I put that beat together. The music for ‘Sally’ was actually a remix for ‘Just Say Stet’ from the previous album. I programmed the beat, and I was like, ‘Nah, it’s not going to work. Let’s just save it for the next album.’ Then boom Daddy-O comes with the idea and he puts down the rhyme.

 

“If you were a real hip-hop DJ in New York, and if you were into collecting records, your next step was getting a drum machine. Working a drum machine meant you were programming beats for your MCs. So that automatically translated to, ‘Okay, since hip-hop is now on wax, and I’ve been programming tracks for my group, so I guess I’m a producer or a beatmaker.’ That was just the progression.

“When it came time to make the first album, I’ve been programming beats forever. So when they wanted to check out new music, I would ask, ‘Okay, what do you think about this?’ It just happened. It wasn’t like a decision where I sat down and said, ‘You know? Let me become a producer.’

“The most notable one that I did, but did not get credit for, which bothers me until this day, is ‘Sally.’ Frukwan and I put that beat together. The music for ‘Sally’ was actually a remix for ‘Just Say Stet’ from the previous album. I programmed the beat, and I was like, ‘Nah, it’s not going to work. Let’s just save it for the next album.’ Then boom Daddy-O comes with the idea and he puts down the rhyme.

“It’s funny because we weren’t really understanding what’s going on, and I’m like, ‘Yo, Frukwan and I did that. How come we didn’t get credit for that? How come we didn’t get any writing credit either?’

“I didn’t know writing music meant that you’re a writer. I always thought physically writing the words meant that you were the writer of the song. That’s how I got jerked out of ‘Talkin’ All That Jazz,’ ‘Sally,’ I mean there were a lot of records that I’d have my hands in those days, and I just didn’t know.

 

Kids these days have it so organized because you have all the information at your fingertips. You can read about both good and bad things. There’s no reason for you to really get jerked in 2011 because you have so much information.

 

“If you weren’t going to get that much money off of that, why didn’t you even tell me? Dudes knew, but I was kind of privy to that information. I was a teenager. I was having fun. It was a costly lesson. That was a big record.

“Kids these days have it so organized because you have all the information at your fingertips. You can read about both good and bad things. There’s no reason for you to really get jerked in 2011 because you have so much information.

“Back then, I didn’t know what a songwriter was and I got jerked out of writing credits. On the first album I didn’t know what a producer was…I didn’t know anything. All I knew was scratching, programming beats, holding a party, and getting couple hundred dollars and get happy like, ‘Two hundred dollars? Thanks!’ [Laughs.] It was just that.

“You loved the music, and you just did it. We didn’t realize that money could be made until we went on tour with LL Cool J, and we were like, ‘Whoa! Look what he has. How come I don’t have anything close to that?’ That’s when the question marks started to pop up.”

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