Arabian Prince is of course the guy who left N.W.A just as they got huge--he's the sixth person on the cover of Straight Outta Compton that people always wonder about, and he's the guy with the songwriting credit on "Something 2 Dance 2," the cheerful B-side of "Gangsta Gangsta" put there so people would have ... well, you know.
It's not exactly the kind of song that made the PRMC come calling, and it sticks out of the N.W.A discography like a glowstick from a gun barrel. Because of that--and because he wasn't there as N.W.A went on to terrify part the country and inspire the rest--there's an idea out there that Arabian Prince was the Pete Best of N.W.A But as the Prince himself explained to me, "The difference between me and Pete Best is I'm still grinding!"
The other difference, of course, is that Arabian Prince was already a solo artist before N.W.A. In fact, he was a crucial part of the development of electro, inspired by new wave and Parliament Funkadelic and Kraftwerk's motorik beat. (He and fellow genre pioneer Egyptian Lover remain such devoted Kraftwerk fans that they took a special detour while in Germany together to pose for photos by the actual Trans-Europe Express train.)
Though his party-friendly backing tracks weren't the best fit for N.W.A and built-in producer Dr. Dre, they did just fine on the pop charts--remember J.J. Fad's "Supersonic"? Or "Fergalicious," which sampled the hook? That was a $400 production by Arabian Prince, and it'd go on to get him an American Music Award a generation later. The Innovative Life compilation (Stones Throw, 2008) collected Arabian Prince solo tracks from the '80s and made a fascinating portrait of the man and his favorite kind of music.
Left to his own devices, Arabian Prince turned out rap after propulsive sci-fi electro rap, each just glowing with freakiness. (Kool Keith could and likely did get down to this.) Live a strange life and dance to a new wave beat, says Prince on a track from 1984. As it turns out--and as you'll see when he teams up with Egyptian Lover for this free show in MacArthur Park--that's exactly what he did.
dublab presents Arabian Prince and Egyptian Lover with Javelin plus DJ Frosty at Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park, 2230 West 6th St., MacArthur Park. Sat., July 28. 6:30 pm. Free. All ages.