Artist: MC Paul Barman
Label: Coup D’etat
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
MC Serch is Jewish and HE could do it – why can’t Paul Barman?
“Do what?” I hear you ask. “Be a good white emcee that heads warm to” sez I. “White emcee schmite emcee – they’re ten-a-penny nowadays” sez you. “So why in this supposedly more acceptant era of Hiphop, do cats still clown Paul Barman?” sez I.
Its true, you know. Maybe its because he doesn’t try to play the “black-kid-trapped-in-white-body” role that Serch made his own during the Gas Face era. Maybe its because he doesn’t have the same rapid-fire venomous delivery of Eminem. And to me at least, he certainly doesn’t adopt the holier-than-thou, “we-do-this-better-than-you” attititudes expressed by the Anticon clique. Paul Barman is little more that an everyday white Jewish New Jersey kid with an eccentric sense of humour and a squeaky voice – he’s Woody Allen on wax. And its because of the fact that he’s being himself and NOT fronting, that he seems to be unfairly dissed.
Of course, after me sitting here and playing the chief Barman-defender, I’m gonna look extremely stupid if this album is a steaming pile of dung. Luckily however, I approach every album I review with an unbiased mind, open to see the positives in anything if its there (*cough* El-P *cough* Ja-Rule), so while I can readily admit that Barman’s voice and quirky delivery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if approached correctly, and in the right frame of mind, his self-depreciating tales of middle-class woe may still rock your boat.
Check the ‘It’s Here’ intro for how this cat gets down. If you aren’t cracking up at the off key choirboy act that segues into (and becomes part of) the title track, then you’ve got a series sense-of-humour failure. The simple beat still bangs, and the addition of the “kid’s nursery rhyme” as the horn loop is a stroke of demented genius, blending with Barman’s babble to become an instant love it/hate it cut. (I can already see the “What the fuck are you smoking?”-themed emails making their way to my inbox right now in fact.)
‘Cock Mobster’ continues this theme, with an undeniably funky horn-heavy break supporting Barman’s own version of Biggie’s ‘Dreams of Fuckin’ An R’n’B Bitch.’ The only difference here is that Biggie’s multi-syllablic delivery has been replaced by PB’s schoolyard-styled simple rhymes… and the R’n’B ladies have been replaced with Barman’s own “cornucopia of warm fallopia”. Its a trick that works at first – I can’t deny cracking a smile as Mr Barman informed me that he’d love to be “immersed in Kirsty Alley’s thirsty valley” and how he’d “jizz early in Liz Hurley”; but as the track continued, the novelty wore off, and things quickly became a little boring.
‘Old Paul’ meanwhile is an autobiographical lament at his position in the Hiphop biz. Here he touches on the most common arguments in the love him/hate him camps and gives his own personal opinion on them. Again, the rhyme delivery is a little simplistic, but on an emotional level, on this cut the laughs have been left off. As Barman’s voice raises a few octaves higher than his usual “teenager-with-voice-just-broken” range, its plain that behind the laugh-a-minute character he often portrays on wax, he HAS been a little hurt by the abuse.
“Old Paul gave rap a cold call, the caucasoid had the whole block annoyed…
Is it cos I go for the laugh? Because I’m not from the Ave? Because I target the fans that that you wish you didn’t have?”
In the background, the mellow flutes add to the melancholic feel of the track, though the horrendous chorus does begin to grate on the nerves a little too much.
As the album continues, what becomes obvious is that whether you like or hate Barman’s emcee talents, you certainly CAN’T question the quality of the beats here. Main contributer MikeTheMusicGuy certainly performs some magic on the boards, handling the first three tracks already described, as well as the cheesily funky ‘N.O.W.’ (where Barman trades nonsense chat-up lines with the equally insane Genevieve) and the overdosed-on-acid ‘Vulture Shark Sculpture Park.’ Elsewhere Phofo goes one and one – supplying Barman with an inspired “home, home on the range” Rawhide-esque beat for ‘Excuse You’, before the horrible ‘Burping And Farting’ instantly has be reaching for the skip button. How can either Barman or Phofo find this track at all listenable?
Not heard of these guys? Well Barman brought in a couple of heavyweights too. One of the best things that Barman DID do for this album was to get the metal faced one in behind the boards. Yup folks, MF Doom is in the house, and both parts of his ‘Anarchist Bookstore’ link up with Barman are the two strongest tracks on the entire album. Part one sees Doom sprinkle wandering keys, soaring synths, and a funky bass guitar over a strong live drum loop. Barman too steps up his delivery here a little more – he NEEDS to, to avoid being drowned out by the beat – his voice is definitely stronger, though he’s still rhyming um… nonsense. Meanwhile Part 2 slows things down a little. This time Doom has dug out an incredible organ sample and dropped it over a hard set of kicks and snares, and again he’s come through with that dope bass guitar too. Listen carefully and you might even notice that Doom has been digging into the crates again, as Mr Hood makes a fleeting appearance here. “Chilling indeed.”
Prince Paul’s contribution to the album however is actually very disappointing – from the acoustic vibes the ex-Stet DJ spreads all over this to Barman’s quickfire witterings, ‘Bleeding Brain Grow’ just doesn’t move me at all. Its a little TOO folksy. Along with this, MikeTheMusicGuy’s record takes a little pounding when ‘Talking Time Travel’ and ‘A Somewhat New Medium’ drop – this is as much to do with the fact that Barman’s spoken word pieces are as uninspiring as the (loosely-labelled) beats. For me, spoken word joints aren’t clever – they’re BORING. Take note – I speak for many.
So… conclusion? Well this is exactly what you’d expect from a Paul Barman album. Absolutely nonsensical rantings on the mic most of the time, coupled with a surprisingly good choice of beats in places. Its certainly not gonna convert any of the “haters” – the very reasons they DON’T like him are all over this joint… the eccentricity, the rambling, the revelling-in-my-whiteness, the constant Jewish buzzwords dropped liberally all over the place… you can almost smell the smoke coming out of their ears already. However for those who are looking for a slightly different take on alternative Hiphop – Barman, in small doses, could be something you can warm to.