Chris Daly brings the Rocky Road while others bring vanilla.
There are those of us of a certain age who recall with fond clarity the early heyday of rap, waaaaay back in the 80s. Pull up a chair, kids, because I’m about to give a lecture. In some of its earliest incarnations, hip hop had two rules—1. Light and fun were good things 2. The DJ often was more important than the MC. Paul White admirably taps into that spirit without sounding derivative on his suitably named, Rapping with Paul White.
White has made a name for himself birthing plump beats, until now of the sans-vocal variety. To demonstrate he’s more than capable of sharing the spotlight, he compiled a rogue’s gallery of underground A-listers that share both his aesthetic and warped sense of humor. Guilty Simpson, Danny Brown and Homeboy Sandman are the most recognizable names here, but turns by Moe Pope (“Stampeding Elephants”) and Marv Won (“Run Shit”) are of the with-not-to-be-fucked variety, in no small part to White’s sleek and muscular beats White.
While he’s clearly paying homage to everyone from Prince Paul to Madlib, it’s White’s insistence on putting his own stamp on the music that most impresses me. No easy James Brown samples here; instead, we’ve got Bollywood clips, Frank Zappa interludes and Lollipop Guild choir pieces. PW keeps a strong and steady groove, but he keeps it his way. For this, much respect is due. While this is not a concept album in the traditional sense, i defy you NOT to listen to the entire thing in one sitting. White’s loopy loops and dope beats all follow a funked and fun road map that’s nigh impossible to break up. It’s not that there aren’t singles here, for there are plenty. It’s just that once you get into the groove, why would you ever want to jump back out?
Interestingly, my only real complaint focuses on the production itself. At times, the MC is buried amidst White having what sounds like the time of his life behind the boards (Danny Brown is practically lost on “One of Life’s Pleasures”). For a project presumably designed to help showcase PW’s abilities as a producer, the MCs could stand a bit more love here and there.
Also, I’d point out that for an album called “Rapping with Paul White,” to only have nine of the 18 tracks showcase MCs seems a bit misleading. Fortunately, the beats that make up the remainder are more than enough to keep the heads banging.
Now get the hell off my lawn.
MP3: Paul White ft. Guilty Simpson-“Trust” (Left-Click)