September 9, 2008

MC Paul Barman - Paullelujah! (October 15, 2002)

I apparently wrote about MC Paul Barman's debut, It's Very Stimulating, approximately a year and a half ago. Even though Hip Hop Isn't Dead has only existed since February of 2007, I'm actually a bit shocked that it took me so goddamn long to follow up an EP that I liked so much (here's the link to the original post, if you're interested). Oh well, anything to postpone the inevitable review of U-God's second solo opus.

It's Very Stimulating worked like a charm because (a) it was really fucking short, (b) all of the tracks were produced by Prince Paul, a name that should be familiar to regular readers of the blog, and (c) it was really fucking short. Barman's follow up, Paullelujah!, follows in much of the same footsteps as his debut, except with one glaring difference: Prince Paul only returns to man the boards on one song. I can't imagine that Paul Huston was too busy to show up to the studio, so I have to believe that this was a deliberate decision made by Barman to specifically piss me off.

Instead, Barman elected to go with the efforts of three other producers: underground stalwart MF Doom, who is perhaps best known today as "the rapper in the mask that doesn't bother performing at his own shows anymore"; indie producer Phofo, who, in addition to remixing some of the more random club songs in recent memory, has also created theme songs for Saturday morning cartoons and has also contributed a piece to Created In Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's: Humor Category, a fact which actually surprised the hell out of me (the book itself is a mixed bag, but I highly recommend Keith Pille's "Journal Of A New COBRA Recruit", which is fucking hilarious); and MikeTheMusicGuy, who actually handles the majority of the music on Paullelujah!. None of these three are even close to a Paul Huston type (no, not even Doom), but their collective sound (coupled with the self-produced attempts by the artist himself) aids and abets Barman in pursuing what should be seen as a natural extension of the concepts, ideas, and general stupidity that It's Very Stimulating was only able to gloss over.

Due to it being really fucking short, of course.

A corny-ass rap album intro for a consciously corny-ass rapper.

Not a bad way to start your album, but right away, you'll notice that the blatant irreverence of Prince Paul Huston is sorely missed. This MikeTheMusicGuy tries his hand at an impression, but it doesn't quite gel.

The beat (from MikeHasn'tHeardOfSpacesBetweenWords) is actually really fucking good. I have to disagree with Barman's love of Laura Prepon (from That '70's Show), though: she was a lot hotter when she had the red hair. With the blonde locks she currently sports, her face seems to blend in to the incredibly boring background. Oh, you want to know about the actual song? It's good. But stupid. But good. Bonus kudos for somehow mentioning Kim Deal (of The Pixies and The Breeders, depending on what side of bed you woke up on this morning), but points taken off for not even attempting to cover The B-52's "Rock Lobster".

Much slower than you would expect, and the singing is goofy, but Paul's lyrics are actually really good: he addresses the criticism that he is only using hip hop for his own personal gain and trashing the genre in the process. If only some of these "artists" from the South would own up to that undisputed fact, maybe I'd write about more Southern artists. As such, I have no reason to write about them, those fucking hacks. But I digress.

This is the lone Prince Paul-produced joint on here, which was a mistake in my book, but who am I to question why Paul Barman wanted to expand on his sound? The beat comes off as a De La Soul outtake, and Barman utilizes it to spit some of the most random shit while still sounding amusing. Admittedly, rapping the names of rappers strictly in palindromes is pretty damn impressive, although that makes it obvious that Barman may never be considered the king of the freestyles. Personally, I never thought I would ever hear Barman reference The Rza, Cormega, and the theme to Reading Rainbow in a single track, but here you go. Take it from me, butterflies in the sky: it can be done.

6. N.O.W.
Oh Lord, this song is terrible, but there is one hilariously meta moment toward the middle of the track that I loved, even though the rest of it is embarrassing to sit through, let alone listen. If you're strong enough to brave the waters, you should see if you can figure out what I'm talking about.

This shit is actually dope, son. (You're not my dad!)

I didn't care much for this one. Nice reference to Rebecca Pidgeon, David Mamet's wife, by the way: didn't see that one coming.

MF Doom provides the beat, and Barman operates in tangents: the track starts off in one spot (in which Barman rhymes briefly about a girl that works in a bookstore in a college town), but trails off wildly. Barman makes some really good points, but the song as a whole is a little much.

Well, at least it's short.

Paul Barman takes a crack at an old school country-western/singer-songwriter-type track, and ultimately fails, but the journey is pretty interesting.

Barman revisits the concepts first presented from three tracks ago, this time with a better Doom beat and some rhymes that sound even more ridiculous than before. He even manages to work in a reference to Doom himself, which was awfully nice of him, but truthfully, if you thought the first installment was a bit much, then the sequel will probably make your head explode.

Barman ends his album with some fucking spoken word poetry, which is just annoying, although he is just trying to be funny. It's his album, and ultimately he can end it any way he wants, but that doesn't mean his outro is any good.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Paullelujah! isn't as consistently entertaining and bizarre as the It's Very Stimulating EP, but it's everything that a sophomore effort is supposed to be: clear examples of artistic growth and (extremely brief flashes of) maturity are present. And while I did miss Prince Paul's input, Barman surrounds himself with a few producers that help pick up the slack (although it isn't surprising that the only other name brand producer, MF Doom, comes off the best). All in all, it's more of the same from MC Paul Barman: as to whether that's a good or a bad thing is up to you, as most fans who loved It's Very Stimulating will enjoy the hell out of this.

BUY OR BURN? Nerdcore enthusiasts will appreciate this album far more so than the majority of my two readers, so if you fall into that category, pick this disc up (along with the EP). For the rest of you two, there isn't enough Prince Paul on here that can make me recommend this across the board, so you can walk on by.

BEST TRACKS: "Cock Mobster"; "Bleeding Brain Grow"; "Old Paul"; "Excuse You"



  1. You got a lady. I got a lady, but Kim is mine! I saw her on the Dolittle tour at a teeny basement venue in Boston. Top that, and you can have her.

  2. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessSeptember 09, 2008

    Cock Mobster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I like MC Paul Barman but you're out of your mind for recommending a purchase of this while advising readers to burn It Was Written and Stillmatic. I bet it was Talking Time Travel that did it for you. Finally your Country/Western bias shines through.

  3. Hey, Felonius, to add, he also recommended a burn of Gangstarr's Daily Operation but I digress. Keep up the great work, Max.

  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessSeptember 12, 2008

    I'm just running a campaign to have Max named as the world's most experienced Nas hater. Besides, I think it's ridiculous the way people come on here and bitch about the recommendations. Max writes these lengthy, consistently hilarious reviews for free and people call him a fag on the regular because he doesn't like Snoop Dogg as much as they do. Don't get me wrong, I've been disgusted with plenty of recommendations, but never the reviews. People act like he's assembling their record collection for them or is in charge of their ipod. I'm just happy that somebody wrote intelligently about one of my favorite albums instead of just calling it a classic and posting the rapidshare link.

  5. And the great thing is, I don't even hate Nas. I'm just not the biggest fan of most of his choices. I may be the only person online that will actually SAY that I'm not a fan of his choices, though, and if that brands me as a hater, well, you have to love hip hop in order to actively hate something, because that means that yoy are disappointed by something: otherwise, it's called indifference.

  6. Sorry if I'm just completely clueless, but why is this under MF Doom and not Paul Barman? Isn't Doom just one of the producers of this album?

  7. This reminds me of another hip hop album by rapper Amadeus Durbin called 23 check him out at