BABY PAUL: Ghost In The Machine
WHO IS BABY PAUL?
There are those obscure individuals in the music and entertainment industry who defy the status quo, and walk their own path to salvation and success. Working “behind the scenes” is an ambiguous title that suits many purveyors and mavens of the industry, often times intentionally. Even the most illustrious and well known artists enjoy the benefit of working incognito, like ghosts in the machine. But like most apparitions, they eventually come out of hiding to reveal, thrill or deliver some sort a message.
Rather than calling Ghostbusters, I decided to call up a ghost of futures-past by the name of Paul Hendricks aka Baby Paul on the 16th anniversary of Nas’ “Stillmatic” release.
Baby Paul has been in the music industry for over 20 years, however, he is a specter in the hip hop music machine. Born of Jamaican immigrants in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn and Queens, NYC, Paul has managed to position himself among a legacy of talented artists and music producers. Baby Paul has been a working music legend since early 1990’s. By aligning himself with Brooklyn beat impresarios Mr. Walt and Evil Dee and becoming the third member of Da Beatminerz, Paul found himself at the epicenter of burgeoning underground hip hop force Boot Camp Clik and Duck Down Records. According to Paul, that was only the beginning.
How did your career in music begin?
Around the time I was living in Jamaica, Queens, I met Mr. Walt. He was like the manager of The Music Factory, an infamous hip hop record store in Queens. I used to go in there and buy my vinyl. I used to intern at PowerPlay recording studios in Long Island City back when KRS-One was doing the “The Blueprint” album, Kool G Rap was doing “Wanted Dead or Alive”, and Eric B & Rakim was doing “Let The Rhythm Hit Em”. Thats where I first met Large Professor, before the Main Source inception. My friendship with Walt led to me going to his home studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, you know – vibing and making beats. That’s how I met Evil Dee and DJ Chuck Chillout. They were doing their first single “Who Got Da Props?” which started Black Moon. I was in that circle when Black Moon took off, it started with the single. So then they had the opportunity to do the album on Nervous Records. Evil Dee and Walt produced the bulk of the music. I was just getting my feet wet – before beat-making, I’m building my sound, learning equipment and diggin’ through records.
“I was a heavy, heavy record digger. I had an encyclopedic knowledge of vinyl and record samples and various genres of music. So that made me an asset to the circle. I’m bringing ideas records to the tables, samples. They had me in the background as support system with old records, sample ideas and the energy.”
It was a great time. We were all in our 20’s… loving hip hop. Dealing with independent record labels. Not knowing the impact we would have on the fans. We were just like, let’s make some dope hip hop and be competitive from what we’d like to hear from our peers. But lets put our perspective on it with that Brooklyn twist. You know, street, but still musical and vibed out.”
“Let’s make some dope hip hop and be competitive from what we’d like to hear from our peers. But lets put our perspective on it with that Brooklyn twist. You know, street, but still musical and vibed out.”
Baby Paul aka “Bpzy (Bee Pee Zee)” has worked on landmark hip hop gems such as Black Moon “Enta The Stage”, Smif n Wessin “Dah Shinin”, Heltah Skeltah “Nocturnal”, OGC “The Storm”, and Nas “Stillmatic”, to hot joints on movie soundtracks such as Ice Cube’s Next Friday and High School High starring Jon Lovitz and Mehki Phifer. And that’s not all, Paul has blessed tracks for Naughty By Nature, Artifacts, Angie Stone, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli and Fat Joe. In fact, Bpzy produced the track “My World” featuring the late great Big Pun on the LP Don Cartegena and became Fat Joe’s first RIAA certified Gold album.
It’s funny. Today is the 16th Anniversary of Nas’ Stillmatic album. Shot out to Nas! I produced the song “Destroy & Build” on that record. I made a comment about it on social media. I literally got a response on Facebook and someone posted “Yo, you did one of my favorite records, Therapy.” I was like, wow.
Yeah. Therapy is one of my favorites too. What are a few other songs you’ve worked on?
Ok, well, for Smif n Wessun on Dah Shinin I produced “Wrekonize”, “Home Sweet Home” inspired by Roy Ayers’ “We Live In Brooklyn”, and I did “Wipe Your Mouf” with a kind of reggae tinged hook. For Heltah Skeltah, I produced “Let Tha Brains Blow,” “Therapy”, “Undastand”, “Soldiers Gone Psycho”, Leflauh Leflah Eshkoshka”, and I mixed most of the album along with Ken “Duro” Ifill.
What was the process for that? Were you just submitting music along with the Beatminerz?
Between Smif n Wessun and Heltal Skeltah album, I was actually demo-ing records for Duck Down, to get Heltah Skeltah a deal. Shout out to Special Ed, I demo’d records at his studio in Brooklyn. That’s how songs like “Let Tha Brains Blow” came about. You know, they were originally demos, and it was those demos that led to a situation at Priority Records. Which led to Duck Down-Priority Records and all the records that came after the Smif n Wessun album. Thats when they formed their record label and management company.
So you were at the epicenter of Boot Camp Clik and the whole Duck Down creation?
Absolutely. I don’t want to take too much credit for making that happen, but I definitely was a catalyst in the process creatively. At that time, they were looking for a way to build new artists out of the Boot Camp Clik, and Evil Dee and Mr. Walt weren’t really focused on doing that until they were in a position to make the records first. So, they came to me. I was hungry. I just came off the Smif N Wessun record, everybody was hyped off the energy of me being the third wheel to Da Beatminerz production camp. So whatever they couldn’t get from Walt or Dee, they could get from me. As a thank you, they gave me a lot of work on that album.
How does it feel to be a living working legend?
“I appreciate the love because when you’re a working musician you create, then you move on. I don’t rest on my laurels, I try to continue forward. Forwards never backwards of course. But, to be respected and honored by my peers and the culture is a blessing. You know, they always treat people in this industry as good as your last record. Fifteen, twenty years later as everyone gets older, and unfortunately we are losing some of our heroes. Rest In Peace Sean Price, Rest In Peace Phife Dawg. It’s a blessing when I come across people randomly hitting me online from anywhere in the world saying ‘I love your work. I love what you did with such-n-such.’ Explains Paul.
Baby Paul now owns and operates an independent record label, Divine Order Entertainment aka D.O.E. launched in 2006. In 2013, Bpzy negotiated a distribution deal with E-One Music (Entertainment One) and has been going strong ever since. Today, Baby Paul walks the road less paved and sings to the beat of his own drum. He understands the integrity of his brand power. Paul is diversifying his skill set and cultivating new partnerships for a transferable market. Fresh off of the Main Source 25th Anniversary Tour in Europe and Japan, Bpzy is secretly working on a plot for the Main Source reunion album featuring Large Professor and other special surprise guests. Paul stays busy consistently producing music, movie soundtracks, television and radio spots, as well as corporate jingles for companies like Pepsi, all while strategically aligning himself with the movie business.
“I don’t need fame. I don’t need the attraction of fame.” Says Paul. “I used to want that in my twenties, but I got over that fast. I understand the balance.”
To make the money you need to have a presence or recognizability. Thats’ why some producers are more successful than others. They put themselves out there. I understand that. I wanna be an example of someone that puts out great records over a period of time. You know, records that you have in your catalogue or your collection, or you remember from albums handed down to you. So when you see me doing other things and wearing other hats, then you say, Oh, I get why he does this now, because he’s already done that.”
For more info on Baby Paul visit HERE