The Best Hip Hop Concept Album: A Prince Among Thieves

Even if you’ve never heard of Prince Paul, you’ve heard him. He’s produced for greats like Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, Gravediggaz, Stetsasonic, 3rd Bass, and many more. He paved the way for a lot of producers, and created an innovative style of Hip Hop that has influenced many underground producers today, but in my opinion, his greatest contribution to Hip Hop has been A Prince Among Thieves.

A Prince Among Thieves came out in 1999 on Tommy Boy Records. At a time when creativity in Hip Hop was at an all time low and the subject matter was changing, Prince Paul quietly released one of Hip Hop’s most creative and well executed albums. As he put it himself, “I made this album to encourage art, creativity and sincerity, which is at an all time low, not just in rap but in all entertainment mediums.”

A Prince Among Thieves tells the story of Tariq (played by Breezly Brewin) and True (played by Big Sha). Tariq is an aspiring emcee struggling to make it big in the music industry. For a chance of success in the rap game though, Tariq has to try his hand in hustling. Tariq’s life long friend True hooks him up, and the rest you’ll have to listen to for yourself…

The characters that Tariq and True meet during the story are played by a very impressive lineup of emcees including Big Daddy Kane, Kool Keith, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, Biz Markie, Sadat X, Xzibit, The RZA, Buckshot, and many more. The emcees really get into their characters and help progress the story. And Prince Paul’s production fits perfectly with each scene in the story.

Concept albums are often hit or miss. It is hard to maintain a theme or story throughout an album without sacrificing the flow or quality of music. It’s obvious that Prince Paul spent time developing the story and motifs. A Prince Among Thieves seems more like a story told by Hip Hop than a Hip Hop album with a story. Every song is related to the story, and the necessary skits help advance the story and set the scene. Anybody who knows Prince Paul knows he’s extremely talented at creating realistic skits.

I’ve never heard another album like A Prince Among Thieves. Prince Paul showed that stories can be told through Hip Hop as well as they can be told through books or movies. I’ve listened to this album in its entirety on almost every plane trip I’ve been on. The story itself is great, and the way it’s told through Hip Hop makes it an enjoyable listen for any fan. Of course you can’t really skip around on concept albums. So take an hour out of your day, and check this one out and let me know what you think.

Download Link

Prince Paul: A Prince Among Thieves (divshare download, .zip file)

(my views on downloading: if you like it, support the artist & buy it)

Guide To Downloading

yo by the way, i’ll be back next week with a (final?) mix and some information about where this blog is going now that i’m done with school and on to bigger & better things…stay tuned.


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