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MC Paul Barman, It's Very Stimulating (WordSound)

by Matthew Webber

If you asked a group of knowledgeable hip-hop fans to list their favorite current producers, most of them probably would include Prince Paul somewhere on their list. He produced two hit albums in 1999, both of them critically acclaimed: his own A Prince Among Thieves and his joint project with Dan Nakamura, Handsome Boy Modeling School's So... How's Your Girl? Add to that his groundbreaking work with Stetasonic and De La Soul and Prince Paul's discography becomes infinitely more interesting, creative and varied than those of other talented producers like Dr. Dre or Swizz Beats.

Prince Paul's genius lies in his ability chop up samples and beats to the n-power and splice them together so perfectly you can't ever imagine he took them from different sources in the first place. His music can complement any style of rap, from XZibit's growl to Big Daddy Kane's cool to... the pleasantly geeky spiel of a previously undiscovered white boy.

In It's Very Stimulating's first track, a voice asks, "Who's this guy that looks like Goldilocks?" It's MC Paul Barman, Prince Paul's latest project, an underground white rapper whose voice (of course) perfectly fits Prince Paul's beats. From there, MC Paul Barman goes to explain how he's "The Joy of Your World." Later, he raps how "I'm Fricking Awesome." These titles alone demonstrate how different Paul Barman is from your favorite radio-friendly MC. But to label him "different" labels him a novelty, and MC Paul Barman is much too talented for that. He's fricking awesome, indeed.

His flow is unlike any I've ever heard, both in its high-pitched geeky whine (take that as a compliment) and in its amazing mid-phrasal rhyme scheme that drops unique popular culture references where they've never been before. He's the only MC I've ever heard who references Garfield's cute friend Nermal, Lacoste alligators and making anti-choice grannies' panties moist. I guarantee you've never heard lyrics like these on any radio station that doesn't broadcast from a college campus. "No chance for romance/If I have to wear condoms/'Cause they feel like snowpants/I couldn't stay calm because/She revealed a bra/Made of two yarmulkes." Or: "I was walking down the street looking at boobs, asses, faces/Went in the Salvation Army for some used glasses cases." (There is so much clever wordplay on this too-short EP. I wonder if I chose the right lyrics to highlight.)

He wallows in his middle class, New England upbringing, relishing his background and depicting it with the precision of a digital camera. He's as funny as, if not funnier than, Eminem, without Slim Shady's tales of baby momma violence. He's as pop-culture savvy as, if not more so than, than the Beastie Boys, without their wordly spiritual leanings.

But the most amazing thing about MC Paul Barman is how relaxed he sounds. From the first listen, it's obvious he's not rapping because of riches but because he simply loves it. In contrast to so many other MCs, he actually sounds like he's having fun. That fact, by itself, proves the album title to be correct.

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