30 November, 2004@12:00 am
Sometime in 1999, when promos for Handsome Boy Modeling School’s So How’s Your Girl landed on the desk of a certain tastemaker DJ, his words were, “There is absolutely nothing for black people on this record,” before tossing it aside. However, this unfortunately may have been the story for a lot of hip-hop fans that listened to the album, as Prince Paul and Dan The Automator have titled it’s follow-up, White People. Aptly fitting in with the noticeably good looking duo’s quirky sense of humor, the title pokes fun at hip-hop’s long running, ironic curse; minority made music supported mostly by the majority (aka “White People”). But if there ever was a hip-hop record deserving of the title White People, this is it, as it again ventures beyond the producers’ rap roots, and experiments with several rock vocalists and suburbia household names. Nevertheless, the results of this hip-hop/rock hybrid transcend the novelty found on any disposable mash-up record. Each song is original, at times crafting new sounds for otherwise forgotten artists, while continuing to establish Prince Paul and Dan The Automator two of the best producers music in general has to offer.
The album fittingly begins with the De La Soul / Prince Paul reunion, “If It Wasn’t For You”, as they effortlessly revert back to classic form, as Pos and Dove pen love letters to the people and things most important to them. Paul and Dan have no problem continuing this trend throughout much of the rest of the album as well, making several other forgotten emcees shine brighter than ever. “It’s Like That” features an invigorated Casual, ripping mics like he hasn’t done in years, definitely rebuilding his hype for that 2005 LP. The same can be said for Black Sheep’s Dres, who on “First and Then” proves that all he’s ever needed was dope production (and cuts from Kid Koala don’t hurt either).
Things get even more interesting when the world collide however, proving that Run DMC & Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” wasn’t the only successful rock-meets-rap collaboration. Focusing on “match-ups” rather than “mash-ups”, the Handsome Boy’s put together some of the oddest collaborations seen thus far, but many of them surprisingly work. The incredibly funky-yet-bluesy “A Day In The Life” works wonderfully, as the HBMS pools the talents of RZA, A.G., and The Mars Volta for one of the album’s best tracks. Again on “The Hours”, El-P and Cage make a surprising appearance next to the Deftones’ Chino Moreno, while on the lighter side of things, Pharrell harmonizes with David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti collaborator, Julee Cruise. The only one of these collbos that doesn’t quite add up is “Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip-Hop Like This) Part 2″, a clusterfuck of sounds provided in different “acts” by Lord Finesse, Rahzel, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda & Chester Bennington, plus legendary deejays Q-Bert, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Jazzy Jay. Part one still bangs just fine.
Sewn together with the hilarious skits both producers are known for (see De La Soul’s “3 Feet High & Rising” or Dr. Octagon), Paul and Dan have once again done the impossible. Where else can you get a banging album of hip-hop songs disguised as rock (and vise versa) that plays solid throughout, complete with commentary from Father Guido Sarducci? Recently in 2004, when a store bought copy of Handsome Boy Modeling School’s White People landed in the hands of another certain tastemaker DJ, his words were, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard”, before tossing back in the CD player for another spin.
(Note: The tastemaker deejays referred to in this review are both independent consultants providing outside opinions, and are not affiliated with HipHopSite. No tastemaker deejays were harmed in the construction of this article. – Editor)
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