Mirror-image Hip Hop

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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 he’s melding Eminem’s internal wordplay and Danny K’s 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 can’t rap for shit, and his rhymes are loaded with references that would have even Dennis Miller scratching his head. While there’s a bigger argument as to whether Barman’s decidedly urban-oblivious perspective is the future of hip hop or a sure sign of its demise, there’s an inspired (if occasionally atonal) earnestness to the nerd’s coffeehouse scribble flow. He boasts and toasts "the joy of your world is Paul Barman," while, like any rapper with an inflated ego, he let’s us know he’s "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 job’s a man’s job/your job’s a blow job," there’s 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 doesn’t) with the backing beats.

No wonder the journa-telligentsia is all over this one already; it’s 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.

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