Prince Paul certainly has a reputation for being “out there” when it comes to producing and recording albums, from the bizarre and dope “Psychoanalysis” to the conceptual group with Dan the Automator called “Handsome Boy Modeling School.” The next arc in the story of the man who produced some of the best tracks De La Soul and Big Daddy Kane ever rapped over is MC Paul Barman.
MC Paul Barman? Read literally, the name itself seems to be a farce on the cliches of hip-hop. Then there are two alternate covers of the album – one featuring him jumping around a circle of friends; another substituting sock puppets (yes there’s even one that looks just like Paul) standing in the exact same places. And if you hadn’t already figured out that he’s white, you’ll know when he says, “My iconclastic rap shtick is makin me wax like chapstick; I think LL Cool J and Canibus are BOTH fantastic” on the song “I’m Fricking Awesome.”
It’s hard to figure out whether we are supposed to take Barman seriously as a rapper or not. With the lush beats that Prince Paul provides, any dope rapper would kill to rhyme over the killer sonic waves of songs like “MTV Get Off the Air, pt. 2”; and just when you thought it couldn’t get weirder the song also features white female Jewish rapper Princess Superstar. The interplay between the two of them is eeriely reminiscent of the Ice Cube/Yo-Yo classic “It’s a Man’s World” but we know that Ice Cube never sang lines like “I’d smooch on your pooper hole” like Barman does. The most humerously ironic line though is when MC PB says, “Your talents are bite-sized, it’s no surprise you rhyme with white guys” to Princess Superstar!
Clearly, Barman is not the worst rapper that’s ever been heard. His style is not really a “rap style” at all – it’s more like a nerdy white guy standing up in front of a crowd reading poetry; but compared to the cliched thug-isms of Memphis Bleek the stark honesty of PB’s statement “My sex life is pathetic! There’s nothing to tell, that’s why I fantasize in four out of five songs” is an injection of reality most “keep it real” hip-hop artists could use. If you could hear the album as strictly an instrumental, you’d love Prince Paul’s beats on “The Joy of Your World” and “Salvation Barmy” but since you can’t, take Barman’s raps with a grain of salt. The comedic value of his raps makes him the Weird Al Yankovic of underground hip-hop artists, and Paul is nutty enough himself to give him the perfect sonic backdrop. A full album of Barman’s rapping would be grating, but as an nutty short EP it works.