Prince Paul might be the least commercially minded beatsmith in hip-hop to be afforded superproducer status. An old-school devotee still young enough to have helped widen hip-hop's sonic palette during the now-mythologized late-'80s/early-'90s era, he's often given credit for being the Godfather of alt rap for his work on De La Soul's 1989 classic 3 Feet High and Rising.
But as Hip-Hop Gold Dust -- a collection of unreleased or underappreciated collaborations with both the well-known and obscure (well, mostly obscure) -- demonstrates, PP is also a seminal influence on horrorcore, backpack rap, and (for lack of a better term) weird-hop. Most tracks here recall the pre-bling days of hip-hop, and though there are as many near-misses as dusty gems, its 19 songs do offer plenty of bug-out opportunities. A "lost" De La song from 1992, "My Mindstate," leads the way, reminding us that hip-hop didn't used to take itself so seriously (and was better off for it), while now-forgotten artists like the Gravediggaz, Justin Warfield, Resident Alien, Last Emperor, and Groove B. Chill could find new appreciation from audiences who know Paul only as the black guy from Handsome Boy Modeling School.