December 10, 2008

The Dix - The Art Of Picking Up Women (March 29, 2005)

Whenever he's not recording music, appearing as a talking head on VH-1 shows, or watching paint dry, "Prince" Paul Huston likes to play the role of a music historian. Since his crate digging has resulted in some pretty ingenious samples in the past, for his production work with De La Soul (among others), this isn't much of a stretch. In 2005, Paul "unearthed" a lost album by 1950's R&B group The Dix entitled The Art Of Picking Up Women, and released it through former Company Flow member Mr. Len's label, Smacks Records.

Hailing from Compton, New York, The Dix were originally known as The Bangkoks, who released their lone hit, "Love Biscuit", in the early 1960s. Made up of members Peter O'Toole, Orgynius, John Handcock, and Tro John, the group changed their name to The Dix in the mid 1960s after losing a couple of their founders and bringing four more members (Dik Gracin, The Jonsun Brothers, and Burn Hard Gets) into the fold.

Do you get the joke yet? I certainly hope so, because Prince Paul seems to go out of his way to beat you into submission with multiple dick jokes. Obviously, The Dix never existed prior to 2005. Made up of Mr. Len, Mr. Dead, Don Newkirk (the latter two are regular players in Prince Paul's repertory company), and Paul himself, The Art Of Picking Up Women is a bizarre side project in which Paul explores and repurposes the 1950's sound to fit his own perverse needs. Although there is no actual rapping to be found on here, the hip hop influence is clearly heard on the four actual songs on this EP, primarily because all of the artists involved mostly work on rap records. But anyway.

Paul and the gang went the extra mile for this release, even going so far as recording a mockumentary about where The Dix are today, which can be found on the DVD included with each copy of The Art Of Picking Up Women. (When showing archival footage of the Dix performing on The Ed Sullivan Show, they simply insert the group's heads onto existing footage. Obviously, they didn't have tons of money to throw around while producing this side project, but the effort is much appreciated.) The crew are obviously having fun, and the mood is contagious: indeed, I recall reading many reviews of this EP release back in 2005 that praised the DVD, even if they felt the music had its shortcomings.

Fuck it, I'll write about it anyway. It helps that it's short.

This brief intro fits the theme that the title of the disc is implying (a how-to, if you will, on picking up women, not unlike what that douchebag Mystery was striving for on his VH-1 reality show), even if the actual songs on here deviate from the subject matter greatly.

A pretty awesome introductory song for The Dix. Paul's beat toys with simplicity, but doesn't quite go in that direction, while the sampled horns are pure genius. Lyrically, you'll realize that this entire record is a goof at around the 45-second mark, but it's still pretty fucking catchy. The inclusion of a (dated) milk commercial at the end of the track helps keep things light.

Peter O'Toole's singing reminds me of Tom Smith, the lead singer of the Editors, yet another band trying to resurrect the Joy Division sound. However, I get the feeling that Tom Smith would probably try to take this subject matter seriously, whereas the Dix utilize the opportunity to sing about some truly fucked-up shit with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Never mind that, when you read the lyrics without the context of song structure, the track is unnerving and would be a better fit for a serial killer, or possibly Eminem: when you listen to it, you can't help but laugh at the audacity of it all.

Kind of brings the energy down a bit (and by "a bit", I mean "greatly"), but the lyrics (some of which are handled by Prince Paul himself, as "Orgynius") are chock full of punchlines. It's not a bad song in any way, but it's not the best. The brief interlude at the end is unnecessary, though.

"I need you to stay here in my life...'cause right now, girl, straight up, I got shit to do." The delivery of that line is fucking hilarious. The track takes a slightly darker turn toward the end, but overall, it still sounds like it could have been played on the radio in the 1950s alongside all of the other love songs from the era that could double as stalker anthems.

In true Prince Paul fashion, the listeners get an actual introduction to the many members of the Dix six songs into the EP. This track isn't an actual song, but an interview/interlude, one which fans of De La Soul Is Dead may appreciate more than the rest of you two. I liked the fact that the censoring of the curse words seemed to be completely arbitrary.

Pretty underwhelming, to say the least. Paul Huston samples a woman's reading of a nursery rhyme to joke about premature ejaculation. But the true joke of this outro is played on the listeners: the track is over forty minutes long, but there are no bonus goodies to be found. Trust me, I've checked.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Art Of Picking Up Women is a typically hysterical Prince Paul side project. The Dix may be a group that exists to tell exactly one joke, but musically, all of the artists involved have an obvious appreciation for the golden oldies, and it shines through on this EP. While this project isn't Paul's most abstract (that would be Baby Elephant's Turn My Teeth Up!) or even the most absurd (see: the high concept of Handsome Boy Modeling School, his collaboration with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura), The Art Of Picking Up Women is entertaining nonetheless. Paul stans (like myself) will not be disappointed.

BUY OR BURN? Provided you can find this one anywhere, I would recommend that you buy this shit. (Yeah, I know, Max recommending that his readers buy an album Prince Paul had something to do with? Who saw that coming, right?) The mockumentary on the bonus DVD is worth the purchase alone, but at least you can also get some songs to listen to while you drive to work.

BEST TRACKS: "Here Come The Dix"; "When I Come Home To You"; "Tears In My Eyes (Dirty Girl)"


Other Prince Paul projects can be viewed by clicking here.


  1. Oh, what the hell. I went ahead and ordered it and I expect to laugh myself silly. This better be good, Max. Keep up the great work, bro.

  2. of course max would support dix, fucking fag.

  3. Yes! I was wondering how much longer it would take for someone to correlate the dick joke with a homophobic rant! Thanks for reading!

  4. Main you need to review some Dipset shit you feel me? Maybe that last Jim Jones joint... god damn his new "Pop Champagne" brings some heat