Before the world knew NWA as Ren, Cube, Dre, Eazy and Yella, the crew consisted of one Arabian Prince. Inglewood-born and Compton-raised, he would briefly enjoy the status of being a core member of NWA during the Straight Outta Compton tear. However, just as the crew was starting to enter the stratosphere, Arabian Prince bounced. Now, one can only speculate what went down and I’m not here to insist that was is publicly known is not true, but if you know the history of NWA how bidness went down in those earlier days, one might suggest that Prince didn’t leave necessarily under his own will.
But, still, Arabian Prince maintains a few things when the discussion of why, ultimately, he chose to leave the group comes up in interviews.
1) He was a solo artist before NWA. So leaving the group to go solo wasn’t that big of transition for him.
2) He a business man and dude wasn’t getting paid.
3) He didn’t like all the negative attention the group was getting.
4) And he knew all along that NWA was going to be big, but strangely, he wanted no part of it.
5) He’s still cool with everyone in the group.
Now, take a look at the above photo and then take a look at Exhibit B:
I present to you: Bobby Jimmy and the Critters…a comedy troop from LA. That’s the Arabian Prince to the far right. Now, to be fair, Dr. Dre also did some production for Bobby Jimmy when he was rollin’ with the World Class Wrecking Cru. But let’s say, for a moment that the Arabian Prince didn’t leave the group, but was rather asked to leave the group. Or, perhaps, he was forced out of the group. I mean, it would seem that it’d be a good thing if you’re going from Bobby Jimmy and the Critters to touring the world and playing packed coliseums as well as appearing on MTV. As an artist, you’d want that right? I have no doubt that Arabian Prince wasn’t getting paid, but someone was getting paid on NWA. Maybe this is a case of Milton where you stop paying him and see how long he keeps showing up to work.
But Ice Cube left because he wasn’t getting paid either.
Ice Cube left because he wasn’t getting paid enough. He was getting paid. It’s just that he wrote over 40% of Straight Outta Compton as well as Eazy’s solo and wasn’t seeing what he believed was fair share for his contributions. He was still getting paid.
We’ve all rolled with a crew in a relative sense. My crew was a bunch of band and orchestra dweebs. It was my posse and, you better believe it, we rolled deep. Every school year, there was a dingleberry that just didn’t quite match our collective persona. We did it in Boy Scouts too. Maybe it was the red-headed theater cat who told lousy jokes and always spoke in a British accent. Maybe it was the prude Christian kid who was uncomfortable with the f-word. They just get kinda forced out. Maybe, perhaps, that was the jheri-curled electro-producing Arabian Prince from the Bobby Jimmy and the Critters comedy troop.
Is that so unlikely?
So, this week, we’ll be listening to the Arabian Prince’s 1989 album, Brother Arab. The jheri curls are mysteriously gone and replaced by a black Los Angeles Raiders ball cap. It’s a new day and a new look. One could only wonder if this was his attempt to avenge being ousted from NWA. Is this really less a case of an artist exercising his freedom and more a case of hip hop blood gone bad? We may never know. But, in the meantime, we have Brother Arab. It’s been unwrapped and smells exquisite.