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Thursday, September 26, 2013

[Comp/EP] PRINCE PO - "The LEX EP"

Queens duo Organized Konfusion is regarded as one of the best units hip-hop has ever wittnessed, with members Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch displaying a chemistry rarely equaled and a way to bounce rhymes off each other like there was no tomorrow. Despite their high quality output (two masterpieces, and one real banger) the group disbanded for a number of reasons shortly after the release of their third album "The Equinoix" (1997). One reason given was that they wanted to focus their skills as individual solo artists, while another reason mentioned was a souring relationship with their record label Hollywood/Universal whom they felt didn't give them the deserved support. On top of that Organized Konfusion did it all themselves when it came to their music - developing concepts, producing, all the writing, all vocals (their albums rarely had any guest appearances). This heavy workload, according to Prince Po, resulted in feelings of being burnt out. After getting the go-ahead from Prince Po to record solo, Pharoahe Monch went on to sign a deal with Rawkus and gaining a lot of success with the monstrous Godzilla sampling "Simon Says". Monch eventually released his solo album in '99 which in many ways picked up and updated the sound of the later Organized Konfusion records through the help of producers Diamond D, DJ Scratch, and Lee Stone. "Internal Affairs" is an extraordinary musical experiment that remains highly regarded amongst fans and critics to this day.

Prince Po would take things more slowly; releasing a trio of self-produced underground 12":s on labels ranging from Hydra Entertainment to Medicine Men between 1998 and 2001. The year of 2002, however, began a crucial change in Larry Baskervilles' path to becoming a full blown solo artist. A very important factor was Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, who at this time still was an up-and-coming hip hop producer. The two struck up a friendship which resulted in an invitation for Po to participate on one of the choice cuts from DM's LEX Records debut with Brooklyn emcee Jemini ("Ghetto Pop Life"). The resulting track ("Copy Cats") was a playful party booster, with a heavy drum and bass sound, courtesy of DM's brilliant arrangement of rugged hip-hop with some quirky pop sensibilities. Together with Po and Jemini's machine-gun flows and sing-a-long hook "Copy Cats" was a remarkable cut that also marked the beginning of a super dope musical relationship. Burton's connections with indie imprint LEX Records is a very likely factor in the label signing the Queens legend for the recording and release of "The Slickness".

"The Slickness"
Released in 2004, Prince Po's debut album showed the other half of Organized Konfusion taking a different musical path than his original rhyme partner had done with his debut. Made up of twelve tracks, Po left the musical aspects in the hands of executive producer Danger Mouse to fully focus on his writing and rhyming. Beside DM's own quirky beats he assigned Madlib, J-Zone, Jel (of the Anticon fam) and club/hip-hop phenomenon Richard X to contribute instrumentals for the project. Having not released much since 1997, Prince Po had a lot to get off his chest and the album proved that he hadn't lost an ounce of the skills that had made him the legend he is considered today. You got the straight up rhyming joints like on the boom bap intro "Hello", to Po's take on true love (the absolutely beautiful "Love Thang"), the autobiographical "Be Easy", the party jams ("Meet Me at The Bar", "Hold Dat"), and so on. It's a very varied affair both with its lyrical themes and its group of producers, yet the album comes off as a very cohessive affair. Much of this is thanks to the working chemistry between Po and Danger Mouse who despite only being credited for producing three tracks left his musical fingerprints all over the album. Most of the beats have that quirky, upbeat arrangements heard on other DM projects around this time ("The Mouse & The Mask"; "Ghetto Pop Life).

"The Left-Overs"
"The Slickness" only included 12 real songs, and while at least ten of them were straight up banging records, it's a little peculiar to find out that Danger Mouse produced, mixed and mastered three additional songs left off the final tracklist. Similiarly, the lead single "Bump Bump" included a slamming self-produced B-side called "Runwitit" that easily could've fitted on the LP (the song was originally released as a limited single of its own in '02). The Danger Mouse tracks mentioned above were released on a 5-track sampler given away as a bonus item with an issue of HipHopConnection in June 2004. Two of these tracks showed up on the LP ("Social Distortion"; "Hold Dat"), but the three remaining tracks, that are all very much in the same vein as what DM created for "The Slickness", did not. These four tracks makes for a pretty damn dope little EP which stands as a great companion piece to Po's debut album. In addition I also included the aforementioned "Copy Cats" joint from Danger Mouse & Jemini's "Ghetto Pop Life" from 2003, since I feel that's where the story of "The Slickness" really begins ... So be sure to download and enjoy this, and why not throw this on directly after having played the LP from "Hello" to "Be Easy" (I recommend you skipping that bullshit Club Remix by Richard X of "Hold That")? As we usually say here @ The Lost Tapes: TURN IT UP!! 

01."Runwithit" [prod. Prince Po]
02. "So Rebellious" [prod. Danger Mouse]
03. "Copy Cats" (Ft. Jemini) [prod. Danger Mouse]
04. "Better Things"  [prod. Danger Mouse]
05. "Get On Down" [prod. Danger Mouse]

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