MC Paul Barman: Paullelujah!
What do a Brown University education, a Catskills-worked-blue sensibility, and a knack for linguistic aerobics get you these days? If you're MC Paul Barman (real name: er... Paul Barman), it gets you an unlikely career as a sort of Woody Allen/Lenny Bruce/Eminem hydra who lyrically captures pop culture icons in more compromising positions than the National Enquirer. Barman made his mark on 2000's Prince Paul-produced It's Very Stimulating EP, and while his flow proved an acquired taste (imagine Biggie's voice, then picture the exact opposite), the album won him a cult following. The formula: a combination of high- vs. lowbrow subject matter (regarding a sexual mishap: "My pissed off jimbrowski turned three colors like Krzysztof Kieslowski") and a sense of comedic angst that made Slug sound like Ludacris.
This persona is fleshed out more fully on Paulellujah!, Barman's first full-length, which features him expanding his repertoire of intelligent juvenilia to embrace sociopolitical issues. "Bleeding Brain Grow" features angry invective directed toward righties "who refuse to disarm a nuke/And keep printing 'Marmaduke.'" He also slips in what is easily the most tasteless Holocaust-related lyric since the Sex Pistols' "Belsen Was a Gas" ("Gramps made a damn nice lampshade"--gevalt!). The MF Doom-produced jazz-fusion-style "Anarchist Bookstore" mocks nouveaux-riches Web developers, claims "Barnes & Noble'll harm the global," and derides the "political correctness" straw man with a dismissive "P.C. is as meaningless as the president's apology for slavery." But the get-a-pièce de résistance is "N.O.W.," in which Paul Barman, Sex Machine, cruises for action at a pro-choice rally with gooshy results. (As he puts it, he "frenched the wet whooseywhatsits.") And on "Cock Mobster," his laundry list of famous women to bed--including Kim Gordon, Amy Tan, and Cindy Crawford--exhibits his eclectic tastes as well as his goofy bravado.
But for a white, suburban-New Jersey native, there's still the nagging "cred" issue, and on the pseudo-autobiographical "Old Paul" he looks back through octogenarian eyes to ask why he might lack it. "Is it 'cause I go for the laugh/Because I'm not from the Ave./Because I target the fans that you wish you didn't have?" he asks with a mixture of frustration and modesty that belies a man hounded by haters. While he's not easy to take seriously, that's not the point: Barman is a comedian using rap as a medium, and he excels at straddling the line between the first and latter halves of the term "smart-ass."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.
More Music News
- Phish and Keith Urban are coming: Big news for two very different fanbases
- Flashlight Vinyl: New record store brings vinyl paradise to northeast Minneapolis
- How Minneapolis' awful Super Bowl XXVI halftime show changed the game
- Minneapolis indie-rock faves Fog reunite, announce first album in nine years