The Vinyl Five:
Arabian Prince

The Vinyl Five Concept

Victrola's monthly series features artists, authors, DJs, producers, athletes, and other cultural icons discussing their five essential albums on wax and beyond—an exploration of individuals' personal soundtracks and the music that inspires them.

Arabian Prince

Arabian Prince, a seminal figure in hip-hop's evolution, played a pivotal role in shaping its early sound and culture. As a founding member of N.W.A., his innovative production techniques laid the foundation for West Coast rap.

Arabian Prince's solo endeavors further solidified his status as a trailblazer, with albums like "Brother Arab" showcasing his eclectic style and visionary approach.

Beyond his contributions to music, Arabian Prince's love for vinyl is palpable, serving as both an aficionado and collector. His reverence for the medium speaks to its enduring significance in hip-hop's history.

In this exclusive Q&A, Arabian Prince shares stories of his youth, his early DJ memories and how records continue to play a central role in his life.

1. Funkadelic: Tales of Kidd Funkadelic

This was one of the first albums that I owned as a kid in 1976, and one of the first albums that really defined my music career.

My uncle was really into Funkadelic at the time, so I got hooked on them; my mother actually took me to see a psychiatrist because I used to turn the lights off and vibe out to Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, which was an eerie sounding 12-minute song.

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2. The Brothers Johnson: Right On Time

This album released in 1977 and really got me into understanding the subtle sounds of music – the bass guitar, guitar, synth and harmonies.

Strawberry Letter 23 had all of that and was a mid-tempo melodic banger. I learned a lot about creating music from listening to this song. They really had great big vocal harmonies that I loved on Stomp.


In a world of streaming and almost limitless titles available, why do you think people are going back to vinyl?

I think people are going back to vinyl because it is a more personal and intimate experience. The sound is richer and warmer than digital music that is compressed to death.

If you had (or have) your dream vinyl listening room, what would/does it look like? What would/does it sound like?

My current studio is my vinyl listening room, extremely tuned to reference standard but with some big speakers to let the room yell from time to time for club feel. It is important for me to have natural sound when I am listening to music and mixes to make sure what I create stands up to other great mixes. While figuring out how to add the Victrola Hi-Res Carbon into my workflow in my studio, I realized to my surprise that my Studiolive 32 mixing console has Bluetooth, a quick touch of a button and I was locked in, no more patching my dj setup into my console just to play music or sample!

Is there any specific person, place or moment that minted your love of music?

In 1977 my uncle snuck me out when I was 12 and took me to the Parliament Funkadelic concert at the Inglewood Forum. I will say that after seeing that show and the landing of the Mothership, in my mind all I wanted to do is be on stage doing that.

3. Prince: Controversy

One of Prince R. Nelson’s greatest albums, the tracks are hard and loud and showcase his rebellion for government and love for sexuality.

I often say that Let's Work and Controversy had a major influence on my musical career and DJ style in the early ‘80s. I even dressed like him while I DJ'd to attract the fine girls. :)

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4. Kraftwerk: Computer World

I started doing DJ parties at my elementary school and at other local schools in my area. If you are a DJ then you know that Kraftwerk is one of the biggest influences on early hip-hop with Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force ripping the melody from Kraftwerk’s song Trans Europe Express.

This year, in 1981, every DJ in L.A. was playing Numbers in super heavy rotation. Kraftwerk sound was the start of the hip-hop electro funk movement as well as Detroit Electro and Freestyle.

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5. The Time: The Time

Morris Day and the Time, the band whose initial sound was totally orchestrated and written by the purple one Prince himself, hit the scene as the cool band with the suave style.

It is so funny looking back at the ‘80s and looking at how each group that came out influenced the fashion of the time. The songs Get it Up, Cool, and the Stick had heavy rotation in the clubs and parties.

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What’s your favorite record store?

Amoeba Records of course!

When you shop for records, do you make a plan or just ransack the stacks and hope for the best?

I usually have in mind what I am looking for, at least a genre or sound, but once I get into the record store, it becomes the candy shop, and I find myself buying a lot of things I never thought I would.

Did you make mixtapes as a kid? How elaborate were they? Did you deck them out with custom inkwork? Fill them with rare grooves? Were they full of your favorites you wanted to share? Tell us.

I was actually a little lucky because my pops had a talk radio show on KACE radio in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I would sit in the opposite control room and make mix tapes from all the music they had and sell them for lunch money. When I was not at the radio station I had a huge JVC radio that I made pause tapes with; most of my mixes had heavy funk influence, Parliament Funkadelic, Zapp, Cameo, the Gap band.

Thank you Arabian Prince for being part of our Vinyl Five Series!

Listen in Hi-Res

As part of our Vinyl Five series, we ask our esteemed participants to play their thoughtfully picked records on a premium Victrola Hi-Res turntable while sharing their thoughts and feelings. Using either wireless aptX™ Adaptive Bluetooth connectivity or wired with a switchable preamp standard RCA outs, Hi-Res turntables provide vinyl listening in stunning clarity.

Learn More about the Hi-Res Series