On this day, June 25, in hip-hop history...

Tommy Boy Music

1996: Prince Paul unloads Psychoanalysis: What Is It?, a peculiar debut LP filled with jazzy vibes and all the musical mastery that helped make Paul a valuable production ally to plenty of 1990s rap groups.

Having produced for the likes of De La Soul (3 Feet High and Rising), 3rd Bass (Derelicts of Dialect) and Gravediggaz, Paul had long since left his mark on hip-hop. His debut solo album saw him take things in a different direction.

Save for a few raps, Psychoanalysis is a project comprised almost entirely of instrumentals. The raps, skits and bits of vocals that actually appear on the project encompass themes like drug use, sex, guns and more. It's an eccentric work that plays out like a jazzy meditation on just about whatever crossed Paul's mind at the time.

A track like "To Get a Gun" includes nothing but a jazzy beat and an old-school toy gun advertisement played on a loop. On "Beautiful Night (Manic Psychopath)," we get to hear from a mock psychiatrist address therapy attendees who confess some of the evils they've committed. "A beautiful night, let's go steal/Well it's a beautiful night, to kill crackers," goes a sung portion of the latter tune. Pretty strange stuff.

Psychoanalysis' seeming lack of thematic coherence could turn some listeners off, but if you're a fan of trippy vibes and smooth production, you can probably get past it.

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