Published May 17, 2018MC Paul Barman's latest doesn't make for easy listening. But where would be the fun in that? Instead, the offbeat Manhattan rapper provides endless replay value with deeply layered lyrics on (((Echo Chamber))), his first LP since 2009's Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud. Line after high-concept-packed line whips by at a dizzying rate across these 16 tracks.
Prime examples include: "Mister fisticuffs didn't get dissed enough / We gotta listen to criticism / A slap on the wrists isn't a bluff," on the title track; "A woman in the elevator asked my son how long he'd been living / And he held up three fingers / But it was inside his mitten!" on "(((Oh Snap)))"; and "Baby boomers / Drop dead yesterday or maybe sooner / You created tumors," on "(((Age War)))."
That, along with Barman's downright dorky tone of voice and matter of fact flow, may initially seem grating to the uninitiated. But hang in for a bit and Barman will lead you down one enthralling black hole after another.
Barman also has plenty of help in terms of palatability on this LP. Hip-hop legends like Prince Paul and MF DOOM, along with mainstream all stars like Questlove and Mark Ronson, round out the production roster on this surprisingly stacked LP. DOOM's serpentine horn samples and upbeat percussion make "(((99.99999%)))" live up to its name in terms of near flawless listenability and mainstream appeal. Questlove's haunted intermittent horn blasts, maliciously chipper whistles and rattling drums make "(((Art of War)))" more chilling than a call to arms at the frontlines. And Ronson's shuffling beat, dazzling key notes and Christmas carol-mimicking strings make "(((Happy Holidays)))" more than aptly titled.
By boldly pushing the boundaries while also graciously keeping listenability in mind, MC Paul Barman has made a can't miss LP for underground hip-hop fans. (Mello Music Group)