HHS: Where did you go to school?
Paul Barman: I went to school at Brown, but I spent half my time at RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design.
So did you meet Prince Paul at the school? How did this all come together?
He got his hands on my 7″.
I saw your 7″. I haven’t heard it though. What’s it like in comparison to the EP?
Uhh. Well, it’s made on my 4-track. Would say, in comparison, it doesn’t sound as good. There’s much much less sex, it’s not as consistent, but there’s gimmerings of the genius to come.
How long ago was it that you recorded that?
That was in ’98.
So he got a copy of the record and just contacted you from there?
Yeah. He wrote me a letter on Doo-Doo Man stationary. There was a little white turd with a smiley face and a cape.
So a correspondence began?
Yeah, I started calling him all the time and we a lot of incredible conversations actually and eventually he scheduled the recording session and hooked up the thing with Wordsound. And we made an EP, and he was like “go get ‘em kid!”.
How was the experience of recording?
Very intense, I learn something new every time I record something new. I just recorded two new songs for a Matador 12″. One song’s called “House Mate Troubles” and the other one I’m not sure what I want it to be called yet. But, I think I need slow drums. Yeah, and I’m listening to Ironman (Ghostface Killah) too and the drums are really slow throughout the whole record. With slow drums you can rap as slow or fast as you want. With fast drums it seems like, with a few exceptions, you have to rap fast.
So how does it feel to have this all this sudden attention on your from press and fans alike?
It’s so many juxtapositions at once. Like, I knew critics would go bananas for the record. I hoped that everyone would go bananas for the record. There’s the graciousness and hope that the press will help me lead the type of career that I want. But there’s also the fear that this is the beeline for flash-of-the-pan-osidity. I think that I’m a pompous bastard as it is, so having a lot of people kiss my ass or promise great things probably isn’t the best thing.
What do you think the criticism of the record has been? Has it been a positive thing?
It’s mostly positive. Yeah.
What about other Hip-Hop artists?
The artists that I’ve been able to sit down and talk with are incredibly in touch. If you’re asking about approval, they just don’t approve, they like it. People who get it get it. This whole ‘different thing’ is absurd. Didn’t KRS-One tell you to be original? Isn’t KRS-One constantly defining Hip-Hop? Isn’t originality part of it?! Isn’t not fronting part of it?! If I front less than have the other rappers that means that I’m more Hip-Hop than the other rappers. And anyway, who cares? I feel that where you getting at and I feel like I’ve been giving people wishy-washy answers for too long. One thing I can say is, I think one main difference is that a lot of emcees have a serious approach to their work and their lyrics are quote-un-quote serious and they sneak in jokes once in a while. I also have a serious approach, but it’s my nature to try and be funny most of the time but (try to) I sneak in the more solemn thought. I think if I were to be solemn all the time it would betray my nature and it would also not be fun to listen to. If you want to make your mark while you have a chance it would be a waste of time not to discuss those thing. But at the same is it entertainment or not? It’s everything so you do everything you can.
Where do you see Hip-Hop’s place in everyday life?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not a Hip-Hop census taker. I can only touchingly say how its effected me. I know a lot people say how it effects how they walk and talk. And I think that is not as significant as how you think and act. My favorite line in one of my songs was “super-distinctive visualizations make me go sacre-blu”. I feel like that could apply to what Ralph Nadar would call, ‘Republi-Crats’. Or when people just try to define things. Like, Hip-Hop has plenty overlaps with other artforms. However, and I’m talking greater than four elements, once you start talking that way it gets a little bit tricky. Because if I compare rapping to say, drawing. And those are my two favorite modes of expression. Then that makes you sound like rapping is just a formal exercise for me. Which it absolutely is not. I forget what the question was.
But I think you answered it anyway. But you would definitely consider yourself a fan of Hip-Hop music right?
(laughing) A fan of Hip-Hop? Of course of I do!
I know it sounds like an absurd question. Does it sound like an absurd question?
I don’t think that its that absurd. For a lot of artists coming out right now, their Hip-Hop artists, but their not fans of Hip-Hop music, more so of fan of themselves.
How is that possible?
They’re fans of Hip-Hop music, but they’re more fans of themselves and their friends than they are of any other Hip-Hop artists.
Well that sounds valid. Why shouldn’t they like their friend’s music?
I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be fans of their own music or fans of their friends music. But I’m just saying that seems to be as far as their likeness of Hip-Hop music goes. Does that make any sense?
I guess so.make sure in the interview you mention www.mcpaulbarman.com
What was the last Hip-Hop item you purchased?
MF Doom’s record. And I want the first Outkast record. There’s a million records I want.
Would you pay to go see a Hip-Hop show?
Of course! I practically have to pay to go to my own Hip-Hop shows. It’s not like I get dap at the door, dude.
How has been your experience with your live shows?
Good. People have been really positive, the backlash is 5 seconds away. I think get away with a lot.
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