If you’ve been following RapReviews religiously since it’s inception three years ago, you may remember the album “It’s Very Stimulating” by MC Paul Barman. For the most part, this EP was perceived as a joke perpetrated on the hip-hop nation by court jester extrordinaire Prince Paul, but one which thanks at least in part to it’s dope beats was still highly amusing. In fact at the time I wrote these words about him: “A full album of Barman’s rapping would be grating, but as an nutty short EP it works.”
Maybe the uber-nerd (and damn proud of it) Barman read that review on the web, because “Paullelujah!” seems almost to be conceived as a chance to prove that his shtick CAN WORK over a full length 13 track album. Actually it’s still pretty short for 13 tracks, clocking in at just barely over 44 minutes. As for Prince Paul, well, Barman’s on his own now. While his one contributory beat proves the two have not severed their ties, this time the joke’s orchestrated almost entirely by “MikeTheMusicGuy.” Is it a joke though? Whether or not this dork of hip-hop is taking his flow seriously (it could hardly cause any head nods) his writtens on the title track aren’t all that bad:
“What will we do when we have our own kids;
give ’em twelve year bids just after the bars come off the cribs?
Work within the system – make ’em listen
to the darkest lecture in the architecture of a prison
full of purity guards, security guards, that’s sure to be hard
Recess! [*ringing*] Rush hurriedly to the yard
Back to school rights or visitation rights, and boredom is the warden
They’d be less ignored private schools, but can you afford them?
And even then they’re fair to middling, they fiddle with the maid’s diddles
And now they got the Ritalin, A.D.D.
Another dumb doctor’s complicity
I’m about to substitute teach no T.R.A.C.T.
So when the states fail and they can’t make bail
We’ll hold a jailbreak slash big bake sale”
As it turns out, the joke may be on those of us who aren’t taking Barman seriously. While this song’s whimsical beat screams nursery school, Barman matter of factly raps “this isn’t hyperbole, it’s reality verbally.” But don’t make the mistake of assuming this album is high concept either – “Cock Mobster” is a self-described “porn utopia, cornu-copia of warm fallopia.” In the song, Barman imagines himself as the ultimate sex God to a string of supermodels, singers, and actresses:
“I want to fire blanks in Tyra Banks
I like shorn quim lasses with horn-rimmed glasses
but Cindy Crawford offered
I would keep a tidy room for Heidi Klum
I’m immersed in Kirstie Alley’s thirsty valley
I would snore or sleep on Laura Prepone
Shall I keep on? …
I’d feel the pubis of Mila Kunis
I’ve seen the trim of Tina M.
I’d crunch Thandie Newton like a candied crouton
And I’ll disrobe, Lisa Loeb
I want a smelly slice, of Kelly Price
Plus get with the hairy scar of Teri Garr
Lisa Bonet: I’d like a piece of yo’ day
I would jizz early, inside Liz Hurley”
It’s very hard to get a read on Barman. On the surface Barman seems to be flaunting a Mel Brooks approach to hip-hop, knowing that everything he does is a farce and mocking it even as it takes place. On the other hand, Barman’s comedy is also George Carlin in it’s desire to use humor to mock stupidity and deride the failings of society. On the lone Prince Paul track “Bleeding Brain Grow,” Barman takes the opportunity to lambast politicians as wishy-washy at best and hypocrites at worst:
They take half a step forward, and then they double back!
They speak with a gay lilt
They tilted their grey kilt
Spilled on the AIDS quilts
With the dregs of a keg plus eggy smeg all down their leg
YOU MAKE MY KARMA PUKE!
YOU WHO REFUSE TO DISARM A NUKE!”
No subject is off limits to Barman’s absurd attack. He lambasts feminists on “N.O.W.” then lampoons punchline-laden raps on “Excuse You” with lines like “I shoot the gift like a party favor” and “I drop gems like I got holes in my pockets.” One could read “Vulture Shark Sculpture Park” as either a rip on Kool Keith’s conceptual Dr. Octagon rap style, or as song INSPIRED by it – the sleazy funk and surprisingly on beat flow are dope either way. MF Doom of all people shows up to produce parts one and two of “Anarchist Bookstore,” which when read between the lines (no pun) sounds like a place Barman likes to hang out at (probably where he learns all his big words) and mock the pretentiousness of at the same time:
“If someone uses a ‘non-offensive vocabulary’
then that person is considerate, not PC
If someone has a ‘heavy handed agenda’
that person is NARROW MINDED, not PC
Unless you mean Providence College
PC is as meaningless as the President’s apology for slavery
Maybe P.E. should be on the radio
and not just in the African-American Norton Anthology!”
Just when you would want to actually take Barman seriously for addressing these topics, he’ll come back with an entire song devoted to “Burping & Farting.” Even the finale of that song asks the question we’re all wondering – “How could it be so smart and so stupid at the same time?” That is the perplexing conundrum that is MC Paul Barman. The short answer would be that this is clearly not an album for fans of DMX and Ja Rule. Barman’s flow, while improved over his EP and even surprisingly fluid at times, still leaves something to be desired in large doses. His unabashedly geeky rhymes have so many over the top verbal references they could make everyone from Dennis Miller to Ras Kass blush. Still there’s no denying that due in part to well above average beats and in part to Barman’s sincerity in both humor and social commentary, this album does work. This reviewer humbly admits to being wrong, with one caveat – it’s great for anyone who gets his concept, but his “whiter than whitebread” rap flow will still irritate the hell out of everyone else.