The Fresh Prince of Houston

Baby Jay Prince (front) and James Prince (in black hoodie). Photo by Leon Laing.

As James “J.” Prince left the Mini Hip-Hop Museum on Sept. 15, a fan/local Baltimorean asked the hip-hop tycoon to get a haircut at the barbershop across the street. Prince obliged.

He walked across E. Baltimore Street in Baltimore with his bodyguards in tow. The temperature climbed to 85 degrees that day. Prince, 53, and company ascended upstairs to True Masters Barbershop. Like any other barbershop, True Masters is also a hangout, so the record executive chopped it up with the barber and patrons. Minutes later, he sat in the chair to get his haircut. Prince’s visit to the barbershop showed his fans that he remains grounded after becoming a music mogul. His visit also showed respect to the locals.

Before his haircut, Prince visited the museum to promote his book The Art & Science of Respect: A Memoir by James Prince. Drake wrote the forward to Respect. Prince gave a lecture, Q&A and signed books. Karl Keels, one of the members of the museum, was in attendance.

“What made me most elated was the book discussion where Mr. Prince opened up in depth about his mentality and growth,” Keels says.

In 1985, Prince founded Rap-A-Lot Records. The label, with its most successful act The Geto Boys, put the South on the hip-hop map. The tycoon also managed boxers including his previous client Floyd Mayweather Jr. In 2006, Prince’s son, James “Jas” Prince, discovered Drake.

James Prince spoke with vigoronline.com and commented on my Tupac T-shirt. Pac once resided in Baltimore.

vigoronline.com: How are your book sales going?
James Prince: The book sales are great. We made the impossible possible. We self-published it. And against all odds, we’re in the top ten.

Biggie mentioned your record label in the timeless “Flava in Ya Ear” remix. How do you feel about that?
I love that. ‘Not from Houston, but I rap a lot …’ It was a confirmation on the inspiration we had on Biggie and a lot of the East Coast guys.

When no one else gave Drake a chance, your son Jas had the ability to hear Drake’s hidden talent. How do you feel about that discovery?
It was a beautiful discovery. Against all odds. Against everybody that didn’t believe, didn’t hear it, he heard it. He wasn’t going to be denied. He wasn’t going to be discouraged with what he heard. At the end of the day, everybody has to say he’s a genius.

I’ve seen you on your Instagram page posing with young artists such as Smokepurrp and Lil Pump. How can older hip-hop heads help to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations?
My advice is to not overlook the youth. To embrace them. To teach them. To share wisdom, knowledge and understanding. In order for them to be great leaders, they have to follow somebody. I try to stay in touch with the youth. I love that energy.

Like you, Travis Scott hails from Houston. His new album Astroworld currently ranks No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. What do you think about Travis Scott?
I love Travis Scott. I love new the album Astroworld. I love the way he represents the city. So, we down with the Travis Scott movement.

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