by Hobey Echlin
This is not a joke, though perhaps it should be and is best enjoyed as such. A 25-year-old Ivy League grad (whom Detroit heads will think sounds like hes melding Eminems internal wordplay and Danny Ks retardedly great naïveté), actually convinced veteran hip-hop producer Prince Paul to hook up this EP of De la Soul-ish tracks. Only the deal is Barman cant rap for shit, and his rhymes are loaded with references that would have even Dennis Miller scratching his head. While theres a bigger argument as to whether Barmans decidedly urban-oblivious perspective is the future of hip hop or a sure sign of its demise, theres an inspired (if occasionally atonal) earnestness to the nerds coffeehouse scribble flow. He boasts and toasts "the joy of your world is Paul Barman," while, like any rapper with an inflated ego, he lets us know hes "friggin awesome" on a cut of the same name. But while we can appreciate his tales of seducing thrift-shop clerks with lines such as "a hand jobs a mans job/your jobs a blow job," theres something laughably (if brilliantly) wrong about an MC who sounds more like a retarded Beck making a hip-hop in-joke than anybody with any command of how his wordflow melds (or doesnt) with the backing beats.
No wonder the journa-telligentsia is all over this one already; its what hip hop might sound like if the nerd writers who analyze it instead of just enjoy it actually made it. Scary. Proceed with caution.