In the latest installment of Soulful Sundays, UK Hip HopTalk’s Editor-In-Chief Trent Clark chats with legendary Rap-A-Lot Records founder and CEO J. Prince at Comfort LA in downtown Los Angeles.
The Houston-based Hip Hop mogul is well known for being a man of a few words with a laid-back demeanor and charming personality. However, there are widely circulated stories depicting his fearful persona in the streets, his shrewd business tactics and the charitable work in his community — all of which have shaped his mythical status.
Prince has been touring the country all summer to promote his first book, The Art & Science of Respect, and delves into the memoir in his conversation with Clark. The book reveals the dark family history that molded his outlook on life in its opening chapter.
“I wanted to share intimate moments like that with the world because a lot of people want your glory, but they don’t want your story,” Prince says. “My story consists of a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and I wanted people to see I’m a real one, you know what I mean? Through it all, one can still make it and conquer all obstacles and things that’s before them.”
While speaking to Clark about the book, Prince shares a variety of gems regarding his business philosophy on hustling.
“I tell everybody — I began with myself — that hustling is an illegal hustle,” he explains. “You hustle in corporate America as well, but I think we’re speaking of something that may be against the law. And when you’re doing that, you don’t want to do that with a career and have that state of mind where I’m going to make a career out of it. Because if you do, you’ve already lost really before you start.”
Later, Clark asks Prince about the transition from the streets to his rise to power as a Southern Hip Hop pioneer with the launch of Rap-A-Lot imprint in 1985.
“In my book, I write about the biggest deal I ever made — the biggest deal consists of me making a transition from the streets to corporate America, one of the best deals I ever made in my life,” Prince says. “It was that state of mind I had to embrace and take home because I wanted to break the poverty curse in my family where my family was concerned.”
He adds, “And you can’t do that with a short goal mentality. There’s gotta be some longevity attached to it. I chose music because music it’s a million-dollar playing field. In order to become a millionaire, you at least have to be on the playing field where the millions are made.”
Prince says his closest friends were apprehensive about his vision during Rap-A-Lot’s early days, recalling a funny story about riding in his car with the Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill.
“Imagine riding through the hood, walking away from the streets and your friends cracking jokes about you riding with a midget with a baby seat in the front,” Prince recalls. “There were talking about Bushwick. I had him in a baby seat.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Clark and Prince talk about the importance of Scarface in Hip Hop history. The veteran exec also talks about why he ended the Drake and Pusha T beef, handing the Rap-A-Lot reins to his son Jas Prince and the business acumen of this current generation of rappers in the streaming era.
“I think they are more knowledgeable and more business-like when it comes to content and owning content than I ever witnessed than I ever witnessed in the history of the business,” Prince notes. “I’m glad to see that because there weren’t as many like that back in my era.”
Check out the full episode of Soulful Sundays above.