MC Paul Barman | Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud

Househusband (2009)
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  January 19, 2010
3.5 3.5 Stars

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Note how the title of Paul Barman's third and latest sounds corny at first glance but deserves a "ha" — or at least an "I smell this dude" — on further contemplation. Well, the same goes for nearly every thought bursting from his Hiroshima.

Still the highest-brow MC ever to get juice from real rap legends (though not necessarily fans), New Jersey's famously obnoxious nerd king of non-sequiturs returns for the first time in seven years to remind us, among other things, that "television is a medium because it's neither rare nor well done." At 22 tracks, Mushroom Cloud could use some trimming. But in among anti-circumcision spiels and mediocre skits lurk such genius strokes as "Get Help," "Props," and "The Get-Along Gang" — all of which play different angles of Barman's honest yet sarcastic cynicism.

Beneath the banter, Boston producer Memory Man doesn't merely fondle the Kool Keith oddball demographic for affect — Barman's agile intellectuality calls for uncouth mid-track beat flips. It also calls for hip-hop heads to suspend any and all rap expectations — a feat that few dim cats have ever been willing to do for the post-novelty MC Paul B.

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