Prince Paul | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Prince Paul 

PRINCE PAUL

Nothing in hip-hop is more tired than macho gangsta boasting--which makes Prince Paul's recent "hip-hopera" A Prince Among Thieves (Tommy Boy) all the more amazing. Producer and auteur Paul (aka Paul Huston) expands the humorous, concise hip-hop skit writing he used to killer effect on De La Soul's earliest stuff and his own Psychoanalysis: What Is It?! into an incredibly coherent gangsta concept album. Casting a host of well-known and up-and-coming MCs (Biz Markie, Everlast, Sadat X, Xzibit, Chubb Rock, and Big Daddy Kane, to name a few) as the drama's characters, Paul tells a tale of betrayal that lends some context to the usual gangsta blaborrhea: a new rapper needs to raise a grand to finish a demo before a big meeting with the Wu-Tang Clan, and his best friend convinces him to hustle drugs to make the money. He gets armed in "Weapon World," a characteristically hilarious rant courtesy of Crazy Lou (played by Kool Keith), who's been discharged from the marines for "sexual misconduct with a deadly weapon"; then meets the syndicate boss on "Mr. Large" ("Mario Puzo said that I'm the don / www.I'mtheshit.com"). He encounters a crackhead (comedian Chris Rock) who'll do anything for a fix: after offering his girlfriend and a blow job, he sputters, "How 'bout I toss your salad? / How 'bout I butter your corn? / If you don't like that I'll put cheese in your macaroni." Finally our hero's pal sets him up in a prostitution sting and takes the record deal for himself. For this performance Paul will be joined by a variety of guest rappers, including the great Del the Funky Homosapien, and Dr. Octagon producer Automator. He and Paul are currently working on a new album as the Handsome Boy Modeling School, so perhaps we'll hear some of that material as well. Also on the bill are Mix Master Mike of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and Rahzel, the remarkable human beat box from the Roots, who'll preview his forthcoming debut solo album. Saturday, 11:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Wendy Hope.

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