Prince Paul

Charged from a ten-year-plus run in a business as forgiving as the Supreme Court, Prince Paul has seen it all -- from his underrated days as Stetsasonic's DJ to forming his own failed Def Jam subsidiary imprint (Doo Dew Man Records) and his long-running, now-defunct relationship with Tommy Boy Records (for whom this album was originally recorded). Politics of the Business could be seen as Prince Paul's revolt in the form of hip-hop hilarity, a literal impersonation of a rap industry gone awry in the form of a bizarro rush-hour broadcast. Literal in the sense that while its songs are well produced and packaged with some incredible vocal collaborations, the sense of mockery toward the popular rap lexicon (read: urban radio) is at times overwhelming. From collaborations between Guru and Planet Asia ("Not Trying to Hear That") and Kokane and Masta Ace ("So What") to Tash from the Liks with the Beatnuts ("Crhyme Pays") and, better yet, MF Doom paired with Chubb Rock ("People, Places, and Things"), the producer spares no effort in gathering an overwhelming slew of upper-echelon guests.

But will listeners grasp the joke? Politics of the Business may lose some of them, or it could bridge the gap between the hip-hop faithful and the radio-loving masses. No matter the outcome, the album is a ripe, ironic concept by a man from whom we've come to treasure such efforts. -- Peter Agoston

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Peter Agoston