Words by DJ Prince—
New York’s DJ Prince recently caught our attention with Test My Sound, an upcoming, reggae-themed hip-hop album that taps into the underground rap selector/producer/MC’s West Indian roots. Read Prince’s reminiscence on one of his favorite hip-hop x reggae crossover joints, Bounty Killer’s “Hip-Hopera” (featuring The Fugees) below, and look out for Test My Sound, premiering on LargeUp soon.
What could be better than growing up in a West Indian household, with the culture, the cuisine and—most importantly to me—the music. My father was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the Bronx at 20. His music knowledge was pretty wide-ranged due to his upbringing, which I’m sure grew within the new environment. Back then, he told me, Jamaicans looked at America as the golden land of opportunity (as most countries still do) but in the 80’s, the Bronx was no joke. He moved out to Long Island in 1984, right around the time hip-hop started becoming prominent with songs like Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” and Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” because his apartment was getting broken into two times a month.
Now, growing up during the 90’s was an awesome time because the hip-hop/R&B sound was still young and fresh. Two songs would rarely sound the same. I started to DJ at 15, so I would have to be on top of the new dancehall riddims as well as hip-hop and R&B. Long Island was big on backyard parties and our family was known for throwing some of the dopest Labor Day bashments. We had a pool in the backyard and everyone would dance on the grass, with with my big brother MDS and yours truly on the ones and twos. I remember my brother telling me that Erick Sermon of EPMD attended a few of our Brentwood bashments, mainly to eat our food and try and scoop my sister, which never went down.
My cousins Damien and O’neil came to stay at our house in Long Island during my middle school and high school days. (Damien’s name isn’t Damien, and O’neil’s name isnt O’neil: Us Jamaicans have nicknames that we’re called by so much, you might never know our governments). You can blame them for having the most reggae impact musically on me growing up. Sizzla’s Praise Ye Jah was constantly in rotation as well as Junior Reid’s “One Blood,” which had a huge impact on me. But my ultimate, rated No. 1 Jamaican deejay hands down has to be Bounty Killer. It was something about Bounty’s delivery, his voice change-ups and most importantly his message. He represented the voice of the ghetto, the struggling, survival, as well as the woman dem.
As soon as I saw the “Hip Hopera” video on MTV, I was like “HOLY SHIT.” This cannot be real. Bounty Killer murdering wicked flows on a Wyclef-produced beat, Lauryn Hill rapping. I loved the fact that hip-hop artists were embracing reggae and incorporating it within their music.
I was hooked on the Fugees since “Mona Lisa” dropped. The Score was one of a few albums I used as a template in creating my upcoming project, Test My Sound. Test My Sound is a reggae-themed hip-hop album basically boasting my confidence with where I am right now musically. Check out the first leak off the project, “Hustler’s Chune” featuring Smif N Wessun on Okayplayer.