Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once quipped, “The brutal reality of politics would be probably intolerable without drugs.” That seems to be especially true for Paperboy Love Prince, a rapper, performance artist, and activist who is running for mayor of New York City. The NYC primary is June 22nd, 2021, followed by a general election on November 2nd.
Prince sports Renaissance-inspired clothes with inflated shoulders, chains wrapped around a silver Gameboy, and royal headgear or a technicolor buzzcut. One could describe the 28-year-old’s entire platform as psychedelic. Not only does it cover progressive topics like universal basic income and Medicare for all, Prince’s underlying legislative philosophy is to “spread love to everyone.” That includes rent forgiveness, reparations for the drug war, and abolishing—not defunding—the police and replacing them with a “love force.”
Naturally, drug reform is a central issue to Prince, who advocates for psychedelics and would like to see them legalized for adults 21 and older.
“I’m a popular rapper, performer and party promoter in New York and I’ve known many people that have died from different drugs,” Prince says. “I feel like legalization allows for us to have full and open conversations around safety: how to use and when to use … If cigarettes are legal, if alcohol is legal, there’s no reason that psychedelics should not be legalized.”
As unconventional as it may seem, Prince is running for mayor against folks like entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former New York City police officer Eric Adams, and former MSNBC analyst Maya Wiley. This isn’t Prince’s first detour into politics—last summer, he ran for New York’s Seventh Congressional District, but lost to Representative Nydia Velázquez. Still, the campaign was illuminating for the young mayoral hopeful.
“I learned a lot about what doesn’t matter. I learned also that the powers that be will do anything to stay in power,” Prince tells DoubleBlind in a call. “I also learned that people are ready for a change.”
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When asked how they feel about running against Yang, considering Prince composed the “Yang Gang Anthem” last year, they reply “I don’t have any opponents. I only have collaborators. For me, there is no competition. There’s only collaboration. I don’t compete, I create.”
Prince describes his political perspective as “not left, not right, but up,” an attempt to transcend the tribalistic dichotomy of American politics in a way “that’s beyond racism, that’s beyond sexism, that’s beyond homophobia.”
“Our goal is to raise the collective consciousness of the people,” Prince says. “For so long, the left and the right have depended on the average American staying in this same kind of political stupor, where they don’t know what’s going on.”
For Prince, psychedelics have been a key tool for connection. A recent LSD experience reminded them that the Earth is really one organism, with every living creature linked in some way.
“When somebody feels sad in Tokyo, that’s connected to how I feel in Brooklyn. That when somebody feels happy in Alaska, that’s connected to how somebody feels in Ghana,” they explain. “That’s helped me learn to love, that’s helped me learn to forgive, that’s helped me learn to give back. And I use that every single day and try to inspire others to do the same. I don’t necessarily need to always bring my rationale for that being psychedelics, but I do carry that energy.”
That energy can seemingly be found at the PaperboyPrince.com Love Gallery, located at 1254 Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. It not only serves as an impromptu campaign headquarters, it’s a vintage clothing shop and indie venue that hosts community outreach programs like food and clothing drives and free HIV testing, not to mention concerts and performance art.
“For me, there is no competition. There’s only collaboration. I don’t compete, I create.”
“A lot of people in the psychedelics community actually come and see [the gallery] as a point of refuge,” Prince says. “We do a lot of meditation and just soul work and love work … We kind of attract these types of folks. Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
It’s presumably here that Prince and many of their followers spend time imagining a different political landscape. Instead of steering money toward prohibition, Prince wants to issue reparations to people targeted by the war on drugs. While many governments have generated a lot of tax revenue from legalizing cannabis, Prince argues that money should go directly to people who have suffered through asset forfeiture and bloated police budgets that have been prioritized over healthcare and education.
“Wait, give more tax money to these people who’ve only used that tax money to literally dehumanize and terrorize ethnic and racial groups in this country? Nuh uh. First it needs to go to those people,” Prince says. “It’s ballooned police departments, it’s ballooned the ATF, ballooned the FBI, ballooned the CIA, it’s helped to become a jobs program for many white men … So they’ve had all of that money to lock people up, use that same money to repair … And I’m talking about cash. I’m not just talking about programs. I’m talking about straight cash, because that’s what was taken away from those families.”
Prince also wants to abolish the police by slowly phasing them out over three to five years.
“It wouldn’t be day one, turn in your gun and badge,” Prince explains. “I appreciate all the hard working police officers. In fact, I believe that the police are good people, I love everyone. But it’s saying that this profession in itself is flawed. And we need to divert this energy and these resources into another way of helping the community instead.”