MC Paul Barman

All right, Tucson, it's time to get your literary game on. Brown-educated MC Paul Barman brings his linguistic, stupid human trick to Solar Culture this Saturday so that he can set up his culture park like a shark-vulture.

If you've enjoyed any of those preceding lines, you'll love those that Barman opines. Inspired by his new album, Paullelujah, I'm actually going to try to make this whole article rhyme to ya--or not.

If you really want a newspaper that rhymes, look no further than Paullelujah. Even the CD booklet is clever; instead of a boring piece of garbage with crappy pictures, it's a huge fold-out newspaper called The Jew Dork Times. Most of the lyrics are printed in it among related drawings done by Barman, but most notably absent in this lyric sheet is his "Rock Lobster," a mimic of "Cock Mobster" in which Barman produces all sorts of rhymes cataloguing his sexual fantasies of famous women. ("I would jizz early in Liz Hurley" and "Winona Ryder? Goin'' inside her!")

This scheme is the crux of Barman's lyrical style: Complex rhymes--sometimes incredibly so--with intensely witty and, more often than not, dirty rhymes.

But this whimsical potty-mouth is just one side of the Barman coin. Noticeably absent from his Matador EP, It's Very Stimulating and his 12-inch single, "How Hard is That?," the 2002 model of Barman, as found on Paullelujah, demonstrates both a newfound political bent and a--dare we say it--sensitive side. Remarkably, Barman shines most on the tracks where he puts away the wise-guy persona and comes across as the wise man who used to just peek out from under the surface of his other releases. Granted, when he goes for the laugh it's funny, but here, most notably on "Old Paul" and "Talking Time Travel," he demonstrates there are many ways to go for the laugh without resorting to the dirty stuff. In other words, Barman brings the power of his fully functional rhyme-battle station.

In "Talking Time Travel" he comes off as the resurrection of Shel Silverstein, back when he was still freakin' with the freakers, melding a soft-spoken semi-rambling monologue with the light touch of an acoustic guitar, to surprisingly pretty effect. ("Pretty" is most certainly not a word normally associated with MC P.B., but it most definitely applies here.) A lament to the lost art of rhyme in poetry, "Talking Time Travel" is probably also the only song on the album you could play for your grandparents.

The song "Old Paul" is a future Barman looking back on the present day, reminiscing about when he first came to the hip-hop scene and his experiences in it as a white, nerdy, Jewish rapper who was, apparently, ridiculed about all four superlatives.

Barman's political facet exposes itself on several songs. On "Bleeding Brain Grow" (sung to the tune of the theme song to Reading Rainbow) he dashes through a lyrical labyrinth of examples of all the things that piss him off. (He also puts out an insane palindrome rhyme that has to be heard/read to believe.) On "N.O.W." he lampoons the feminist movement, but avoids the pitfalls of misogyny that most rappers would resort to, preferring instead to embrace the modern feminism found in the pages of magazines like Jane or Bust (i.e., "Girls can demand sex and it doesn't make them a slut!").

His live shows are often described as a circus, with Barman doing sketches with audience members onstage while rapping and making up all sorts of new lyrics on the fly. So bring all your friends and get ready to rejoice! Shout it from the rooftops: Paullelujah!

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