N.W.A.’s Other Member Isn’t Bitter. But He Explains His Absence From Biopic (Video)
Hip-Hop Heads seem to know about Jarobi’s early role in A Tribe Called Quest. Listeners may remember Kool Fashion (n/k/a Al Tariq) from The Beatnuts. Many know of the cloudy status surrounding Cappadonna and Wu-Tang Clan. So what’s the deal with The Arabian Prince? The Los Angeles, California DJ/producer was prominently featured on two N.W.A. covers, and garnered credits on both releases. Somehow, his likeness and name were omitted from F. Gary Gray’s record-breaking 2015 blockbuster biopic, Straight Outta Compton.
The Arabian Prince sat down to speak about a few things, including his absence from the film—despite being on the cover and credits of the 1988 album of the same name. As the film analyzes the exit of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre from Eazy-E’s landmark Gangsta Rap group (also including MC Ren and DJ Yella), the Prince speaks up as a guest on Money-B’s (of Digital Underground fame) Going Way Back Show.
In a 25-minute interview, beginning after the 20-minute mark, Arabian Prince speaks on the mid-1980s days touring with Dr. Dre. Both he and Andre Young were among the top-ranking crowd-moving DJs in Black Los Angeles at the time. As Dre stepped from World Class Wreckin’ Crew, he joined DJ Yella and the good doctor to play with some sounds. Soon, Dre—unhappy with his financial situation, presented a neighborhood acquaintance, Eazy, with some music. Thus, Niggaz Wit’ Attitudes were born.
Arabian Prince recalls pressing up singles through Macola Records—who distributed his own works. He breaks down a misnomer, calling 1987’s N.W.A. & The Posse “a bootleg,” pointing out that the five-song “Panic Zone” single, which he provided vocals introduced the group. Often considered “The Posse” (which also featured Sir Jinx, Laylaw, Candyman, and others), Arabian Prince says this is false. He considers that debut single an EP, and a lead-in to Straight Outta Compton less than one year later.
The Unknown DJ, a 25-year Hip-Hop mystery man closely associated with Compton’s Most Wanted, Ice-T, and King T, calls in—shouting out some memories with Arabian Prince and the Digital Underground/Raw Fusion member host. Arabian Prince also explains how romantic relationships led to J.J. Fad—as he and Dre both dated members, before putting them in the studio. It was Arabian who co-produced “Supersonic,” the Ruthless Records gold-certified, Grammy-nominated 1988 hit that would ultimately be the framework for Fergie’s will.i.am-produced 2006 hit “Fergilicious.”
However, by 1989, Arabian Prince says he was unhappy with the Ruthless Records payment process—citing that royalties were not being dispersed. That, coupled with the group’s management emphasizing other members led to Arabian deciding to exit.
What everybody may be waiting for however, comes right before the interview’s close. “I never really had a beef with nobody, ’cause I actually went back [to Ruthless Records] later on, and produced part of the second J.J. Fad album [Not Just A Fad] after I had left [N.W.A.]. I knew what I was dealin’ with, goin’ back—dealin’ with Jerry Heller. So I went back with my attorneys, and got it done right.”
While Arabian Prince is not in the film, other figures from that ’87 photo are: including Sir Jinx and Laylaw.
“I have a theory. And I’ve always said this: I think the reason that I was left out [of Straight Outta Compton] was because I had to sue Ruthless Records later on [after Eazy-E’s 1995 death]. And Tomica [Woods-Wright], Eazy’s wife, [now] owns the label. I had some issues with some royalties and some publishing stuff, and I had to sue—and I got paid. So I think the reason I was left out was because of her, ’cause she’s the executive producer of the movie. Ultimately, it’s her film.” “J.J. Fad was left out too—both of us was left out.”
“It was a great film. I like the film; I’ve seen it twice.” “For me, I was never bitter […] I was cool with it. I understand [how films work]. But if they was gonna leave me out [of] the movie, don’t leave me out of scenes where I was there in real-life though. I’m lookin’ at this movie like, ‘Wait a minute. I was there. Ah, I was probably in the bathroom when we was at the skatin’ rink. I was probably in the bathroom when we did the show or concert or the hotel,'” he explains with calm sarcasm. “I was actually there. They just kinda left me out.”
Do you agree with The Arabian Prince’s theory? In a culture often associated with credit hounding, is this musician-turned-lighting, sound and virtual reality technician a testament to stoicism?
For those looking for more on the man, check out his 2008 Innovative Life: The Anthology comprised by Stones Throw Records.