Monday, March 15, 2010
Arabian Prince: N.W.A. Original Member Fact Finding Interview
via Phoenix New Times
People Don't Know: A lot of guys in the picture weren't actually making music at the time they posed on the cover.
Arabian Prince: "A lot of them, they were just homies from the neighborhood and we were like, 'Hey, we taking a photo. Y'all wanna go?' And they were like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,'" he says. "It was just a random photo. None of the cats, at that time, were doing anything. And any of those guys who moved on to do music after that . . . It was probably a direct thing from being on that album cover."
In fact, these dudes were put together so randomly that Arabian can't even identify the guy standing on his right.
"The guy next to me, I don't even know."
People Don't Know: "Panic Zone" was N.W.A's first single only because the group was scared to go gangsta right off the bat.
Arabian Prince: "'Panic Zone' was the first single because me and Dre came from the electro background and we knew that there was no way in hell that we were going to get any of that gangsta stuff played on the radio, and we wanted to make sure we got it to the DJs and got some radio play just so people would know we were there. And so, we were like, 'Hey, let's do some dance records' because we knew we could get this played because that's what people knew us from before," he says. "So we did 'Panic Zone' and that's what got us on KDAY [AM 1580, Los Angeles]. And, after that, once the gangsta stuff blew up, KDAY was like, 'Eh, well I guess we gotta play it if you've got the clean versions.' So we had to go back and do clean versions, and that's how it got on the radio."
People Don't Know: N.W.A. and the Posse was pretty much a scam by the group's first record company, Macola.
Arabian Prince: "The first record we ever did was called N.W.A. -- it wasn't called N.W.A and the Posse, it was just called N.W.A. -- and it was an EP with four or five songs on it. Then we left Macola Records to go to Priority Records. Macola, they were thieves at the time; they ripped everybody off. So when we left, they went back and took our EP and put a bunch of other crap on there -- that wasn't even us -- and called it N.W.A. and the Posse and turned it into an album."
People Don't Know: N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton lineup didn't have much street cred.
Arabian Prince: "Eazy was the only one in the hood who was really a real gangsta -- doing the drug thing, doing everything else. All the rest of us were just DJs. We were producers, we had done a lot of records, and that's how the whole thing came together. Cube wasn't actually doing anything. He was in school [in Phoenix] until we brought him back. Ren was just Eazy's boy; he lived down the street from him. And, I mean, Ren wasn't really banging, but he was probably the next closest thing to Eric (Eazy). If you had to go in order it would be Eric, Ren, then probably me and Dre because he grew up in Compton. So did I. It wasn't like we were pushovers, but we weren't no gangstas. Then I would go probably Ice Cube, then Yella. Yella was about as far from gangsta as you could possibly get. He was more close to freakin' Morris Day and the Time."
People Don't Know: Being famous is over-rated.
Arabian Prince: Arabian Prince is, was, and always will be a businessman. Unlike a lot of guys involved in the loose early days of the group -- when everyone contributed what they could in the studio (often without getting a writing credit) -- he filed lawsuits to collect his share of the group's royalties.
"I made so much money back then 'cuz I still got all my royalties off of everything. I had to sue them and do some other stuff, but I got it," he says. "I never was the cat that wanted the fame -- I've been making records since I was in school -- so I always wanted to behind the scenes. And so when I had the opportunity to kinda duck back behind the scenes, that's what I did."
Prince says he has plenty of money as a result but also doesn't fear for his safety the way so many guys from the gangsta rap scene do.
"I have no enemies. I can go anywhere, walk down the street, play golf. I can go to the mall, I can go to these events with these cats. I DJ all around the world. I just have fun, man. I think that's the life, man. You've got to be able to enjoy your money and your success and not [have] TMZ is all up in your face every time you get out of your car. Or every time you go to the club, you've got to have a bodyguard because people are trying to get after you."