“Ten years in the making, recorded in five cities across two nations and two continents, four artists join forces to become one: BROOKZILL!“
That is the introductory sentence in the press release that we just received and, to say the least, it’s an incredibly effective one.
Among these “four artists” in question is Prince Paul, one of the most consistently innovative, groundbreaking, and well respected hip hop artists/producers of all time. Starting his career as a founding member of Stetsasonic, one of the very first “hip hop bands,” Paul went on to make a name for himself producing classics for heavyweights like 3rd Bass, Big Daddy Kane, and Boogie Down Productions, as well as the first 3 LPs for De La Soul, not to mention the debut solo album of Living Colour guitarist, Vernon Reid. 1994‘s 6 Feet deep (aka Niggamortis) release by Gravediggaz, Paul‘s collaboration with RZA and Frukwan (Stetsasonic), is noted for playing an immeasurable role in the formation of the horrorcore genre, while his sophomore solo album, Prince Among Thieves, was a concept album/’hip hopera” which, despite universal acclaim, never received the film treatment that was originally intended for it. Then there’s his collaboration with Dan The Automator, Handsome Boy Modeling School, which both swipes it’s name from and draws, at least partial, inspiration from Get A Life, the old Chris Elliot sitcom about a balding adult paperboy that still lives with his parents. There are plenty out there who are satisfied with resting on their laurels and/or recycling the past, but Prince Paul definitely isn’t one of them.
One of the key figures responsible for incorporating jazz music into hip hop productions early on, Paul now looks to draw a “sonic link between New York and Brazil” through Brookzill!, his new collaboration with Ladybug Mecca (Digable Planets), Rodrigo Brandão (aka Gorila Urbano), and Don Newkirk (The Dix). The project finds its roots in a trip that Prince Paul took to São Paulo with an eagerness to experience new culture, a decade ago. This voyage resulted in him connecting with Brazillian MC, Rodrigo Brandão and the pair vowing to work together on an album. Addressing this merger of styles, Brandão has explained, “I saw very early on the connection between the Afro-Brazilian experience and Hip-Hop, between break-beats and what they play here in the tambor drums at the Candomblé ceremonies – the spiritual rituals, the drums and the chanting.”
The inclusion of Ladybug Mecca is huge, regardless, but it might make even more sense than anyone who is strictly aware of her work with Digable Planets might realize. The Brooklyn native was born Mary Ann Vieira to a mother and father that were a Brazilian jazz singer and musician, respectively. Although she may have slipped off the radar, for most people, since DP put her on the map in the 1990s, she did release the solo album, Trip The Lights Fantastic, back in 2005, which drew heavily from her South American roots and was produced by frequent Gil Scott-Heron collaborator, Brian Jackson. Inarguably, a perfect member to bring in for something like Brookzill!, Viera worked previously with Prince Paul (DJ Stegosaurus) on the children’s album, Baby Loves Hip-Hop, adopting the moniker Tracy Triceratops, as a member of the Dino 5, alongside Mc T Rex/Chali 2NA (Jurassic 5, Ozomatli), Billy Bits/Wordsworth, and Teo Pterodactyl/Scratch (The Roots).
Meanwhile, arranger/musician/producer, Don Newkirk has worked with Paul for over 30 years, throughout the evolution of his career. Considered a somewhat “reclusive” figure, Newkirk heard something special in the project that compelled him to become apart of it. “It was just magical, when we all came together. It just felt like this family vibe.”
Aptly titled Throwback To The Future, the album is slated for an October release and features additional contributions from Brian Jackson (keyboards), Del The Funky Homosapien, Count Bass D, Kid Koala, and Mr. Len.
Addressing the project as a whole, Prince Paul states the following, “To me, BROOKZILL! is a throwback to why I started my whole career: good music is good music, regardless of what the language is, what the culture is.” “This record stands by what I’ve always stood by. It might not be what you’re familiar with. But for some reason, you just like it ‘cause it’s good. It shouldn’t have a face on it, it should just be felt.”
Leading up to the release, Paul will be releasing 3 separate mixtapes, each one inspired by one of his respective bandmates. You can listen to the first one, which pays tribute to Rodrigo Brandão and features Adrian Younge, below.