The electro pioneer and original N.W.A. member recalls how mobile DJs laid the foundation for gangster rap.
Compton native Kim Renard Nazel got the music bug early, thanks to his pianist mother and a renegade uncle who introduced him to Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince and the Last Poets. Before high school was over, Nazel was selling homemade mixtapes and putting on parties at the Cave, where he met another upcoming LA artist, Egyptian Lover, and soon crossed paths with the biggest promoters in town, Uncle Jamm’s Army. In 1984, Nazel recorded the first Arabian Prince songs at a Torrance studio; within three years he had established himself as a producer for Russ Parr, J.J. Fad’s breakout hit “Supersonic” and N.W.A’s “Panic Zone.” Nazel left N.W.A before the group became the linchpin of gangster rap — in 1989 he released Brother Arab, a sonic perspective through which new wave, funk, rap and electro all converged. That same year saw the release of an electro single which became a favorite of Detroit selectors. That led to a reissue and new music for Dutch label Clone in the late 2000s, alongside a retrospective of Arabian Prince productions for Stones Throw.