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MC Paul Barman 

Paullelujah!

Wednesday, Nov 13 2002
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Probably the best description for MC Paul Barman is "savant-tard," a term he flashes during his debut long-player, Paullelujah! The New Jersey-bred rapper is both smart as hell -- educated at Brown University, flexing a vocabulary unheard of in hip hop or rock circles -- and juvenile as shit (one song is devoted completely to "Burping & Farting," while several others deal indelicately with female anatomy). But brains and poo-poo jokes do not an artist make: Barman's tunes rise above the toilet bowl because his lyrics are insightfully funny and his music is damn catchy.

Barman announces his plan on "Excuse You," saying, "My goal is to make you go, 'Holy frijoles! Jesus H. Christ,' where the 'H' stands for "Holy Crap.'" The first single, "Cock Mobster," achieves his aim, garnering both guffaws and grouses with a goof on the stereotypical hypersexed MC. Over the course of the coarse track, Barman lists hot women and what he'd like to do with them -- from keeping a tidy room for supermodel Heidi Klum to getting into the "hairy scar" of actress Teri Garr (ick).

Elsewhere, Barman heads off to the District of Corruptia for a pro-choice rally, as a woman with a belly necklace and henna tattoo gets with a dude who "follows politics to ball all the chicks." Then it's on to the "Anarchist Bookstore," where he turns his microscope on teenage socialists carrying mescaline in lunch pails and white rappers who argue about semiotics. And just to prove he's not all yuks, on "Bleeding Brain Grow" he snarls, "You make my karma puke/ You who refuse to disarm a nuke/ And keep printing Marmaduke."

As for his rapping style, Barman is conversational rather than on beat -- the Woody Guthrie-channeling acoustic blues number "Talking Time Travel" hints at his vocal roots. But while his adenoidal verbalizing often strays from the backing rhythms, his speedy, dexterous delivery adds to the dorky good humor.

Musically, Barman and co-writer/producer Mike van Olden have learned a trick or three from Prince Paul, the De La Soul producer who helmed an earlier Barman EP. The backing tracks are kitschy and fun, with loopy guitar and keyboard riffs and the occasional horn or record-scratch accent. (S.F. guitarist Etienne de Rocher appears on the aforementioned talking blues.)

No doubt Barman recognizes that used-CD bins are littered with hip hop acts that went for the laugh. (Will people remember Princess Superstar and her "Bad Babysitter" five years from now?) But on Paullelujah! the artist stakes his claim as the "gown prince of rap," an Ivy League grad who can tickle funny bones with big words and naughty nonsense.

About The Author

Dan Strachota

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