When you ask people about The legend of James Prince(formally known as J Prince or Lil J) They usually comes with complex opinions. Many of his peers respect him. There are those who have labeled him as one of the most shrewd entrepreneurs within the hip hop culture, Some labeled him as a philanthropist whom do “Gods work” and provide jobs and opportunities for his own people in the community.
Judging by those whom worked with him or know him personally, Prince is a man of very little words. With the exception of talking on the introduction to Geto Boy albums, You don’t see him on videos, doing interviews too often or talking too much. But best believe when Prince decides to speak, He has the power to make many situations move when they usually won’t move. Prince caught the knack for hustling early in the late 80s. He started out as a used car-salesman which helped him develop a charming type glibness which would eventually open up doors for him in the record business.
Prince started Rap A Lot Records with a vision. He had a heavy heart for his community and wanted to take people off the streets to escape indigence. He linked up with many rough street characters within his neighborhood to build street cred and muscle for protection. He went recruiting for his first acts which was a struggle for a while. He signed acts such as the Geto boys, Royal Flush, Def IV, to little regional success. It wasn’t enough for Prince to really get his foot wet deeper into the industry. He was on the verge of shutting down operations completely.
SUCCESS WITH THE GETO BOYS
Prince knew that if he wanted Rap A Lot to become a powerhouse, He had to make some moves and bring a sound thats gonna reflect how the people in the hood were living. Alot of the material in the 80s were catered to partying and having a good time but when NWA started to blow, the landscape started to change. NWA’s success opened up a new lane for reality rappers and Prince J knew thats what exactly what people wanted to hear.
After the minimum success of the Geto Boys, Prince started to revamp the Geto boys with DJ Ready Red, Willie D, the deranged midget Bushwick Bill and DJ Aksion whom would later be named as “Scarface”. The song “Scarface” was making noise in the street circuit and was a true reflection of how people in the 5th ward were living. The name “Scarface” was also marketable due to the hit movie that came in the early 80’s and it fit perfectly.
Prince finally had a group to enter the game and kick down doors. After cleaning house, The group came together in 1989 and released their debut album titled Grip it on Another Level which was possibly one of the hardest rap albums to have ever been released.
It was the breakout album that Rap A Lot needed and it was met with critical acclaimed and love from the streets. The aggressive production , Unpolitical correct lyrics, and colorful personalities led to magical chemistry amongst Willie, Brad, and Bushwick. Their sophomore album We Can’t Be Stopped crossed the group within the mainstream levels mainly due to the success of their first single “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”.
IF THE FEDS ONLY KNEW
In between success came controversy. The federal Government has put J Prince on their watchers list from the time he started Rap A Lot. The suspicions started in 1988 when a man whom was identified as Prince’s cousin and another passenger was busted with 76 kilograms of Cocaine in the hidden department of the vehicle. They suspected Prince as a possible “Narcotics dealer” which possibly sparked the whole DEA Investigation.
If they weren’t on Rap A Lot’s head for the narcotics investigation, Prince’s group The Geto boys along with Ice T, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and many others were targeted by Anti protest groups due to their content on their records. They were even blamed for the murder of a police officer citing that one of their songs encouraged them to murder police officers.
The investigation would linger over Prince and Rap A Lot Headquarters for over a decade. It made the operations within the label very uneasy to operate at times. But Prince was able to outsmart them by using his political connections via California Congresswoman Maxine Waters and even AL Gore whom he donated 200k to his presidential campaign in 2000.
Street Rep certified
You can ask anyone about Prince J and people whom know him would tell you that he’s a man with few words and when he speaks, you better listen. He’s considered a great philanthropist to his community and someone whom opened up a lot of doors for many to follow his blueprint to success. What people don’t know is Prince’s reputation as the Godfather of the South been pretty much certified.
When he put Baby, Suge Knight, P Diddy, Lil Wayne and others on noticed, They didn’t bark. They listened. When 50 Cent went on his entire warpath against Murder Inc, He didn’t address Prince J’s comments about him allegedly being a “Snitch”. Prince also muscled Bob Arum out of 600K in no longer trying to harm his then client Floyd Mayweather and allegedly saved Pimp C from getting killed in that hotel room by Master P and his henchmen. Not to mention you have to be a really respected individual to have Larry Hoover leave voice messages on your albums.
The Drake Stimulus Package
The discovery of Drake whom is now the biggest star in the rap game came courtesy of J Prince’s son Jas. J Prince said that he no longer had no interest in the music business and that technology changed the landscape to where it became harder to make money. Jas discovered Drake on his Myspace page one day and tried to convince his dad that this was gonna be the new sound. J Prince whom obviously came from the golden age of gangsta rap rejected it at first, but then he saw the possibility of high profit behind Drake. They made the phone call to Lil Wayne to have him sign with Young Money with agreements to have points off his albums and the rest was history. Theres plaques of Drake’s albums on Prince’s walls in one of his houses.
Since debuting 30 years ago, Rap A Lot Record has established into a dynasty. It became a launching pad for acts such as the Geto Boys , Gangsta Nip, Devin the Dude, the late Seagram, Do or Die, Big Mike, 5th Ward Boyz to blow up. Prince also has done many wonders for his community in giving back to his neighborhood as well putting alot of young boxers under his wing. He opened up many doors for labels such as No Limit, Cash Money, Suave House, Hypnotized Minds to kick down and build empires. The point of this article is to put some respeck on Prince’s name and the credentials speak for itself.