When his debut album Paullelujah came out in 2002, M.C. Paul Barman was called “the thinking man’s Eminem.”
That isn’t 100% fair–for one thing, Eminem sometimes writes remarkably thoughtful verses. Still, the short, nerdy, flamboyantly-Jewish Barman definitely has a knack for complicated, intricate wordplay. He’s alternately crude (“I hope your ova’s kosher”) and philosophical (he muses on being a white Jewish man in hip-hop: “Have I made a mockery of a culture like the Choco Taco?”).
But Barman’s real talent is in mixing his Jewish nerdiness and rapper street cred. In the middle of a verse of typical hip-hop posturing (about “hustling cameos” and “trying on Grammy clothes”), the music goes silent, and Barman says–“I dropped out of this foolish world/and married a Jewish girl.” It sounds like it should be tongue-in-cheek, but his voice drips with sincerity.
And Barman is sincere. On his newest album, last year’s Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud, he raps about how much he loves his wife and son. It might not be Eminem-like, but what’s more manly–being macho, or admitting in a macho way that you’re really a softie?
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