Music

Paul White: Rapping With Paul White

David Amidon

Rising UK producer continues drawing comparisons to Madlib with his first release featuring rap collaborations.


Paul White

Rapping With Paul White

Label: One-Handed Music
US Release Date: 2011-08-22
UK Release Date: 2011-08-22
Amazon
iTunes

For the past couple of years, Paul White has been building a steady brand through instrumental hip-hop releases, most notably through his excursion of psychedelic rock samples, Paul White and the Purple Brain for Now-Again Records. His sound is very similar to Madlib's, which is no small praise. He doesn't have any production totems, preferring to browse through all of his music collection and figure out how to make beats from anything, whether it be rock, soul, reggae, classical or found sounds. However, the true test of a hip-hop producer will never be the beat tape, if only because the genre of hip-hop instrumentals applies to a very select group of the community. Rapping With Paul White comes at a very appropriate time in White's career, then, as his productions have begun to pop up on various artists' LPs from Detroit to London.

Unfortunately, Rapping With Paul White suffers from the same sort of problems plenty of Madlib's rap-oriented releases have been held back by. While it's an undeniably entertaining listen, there are no homerun hits here and plenty of tracks, particularly the instrumentals, lack cohesion. The first segment of the album is pulled off cleanly, perhaps because of its laser-like focus on the psychedelic side of White's oeuvre matched with a trio of gritty Detroit MCs - Guilty Simpson, Marv Won and Danny Brown. However, as the album rolls along, it begins to feel a bit unfocused and showy, blazing through interview and television samples paired up with African tribal beats, soul samples and spotty rapping that doesn't really add much to the note-perfect production.

A great example of this is "A Weird Day", where former MTV Made coach Homeboy Sandman details a day spent wandering the streets of the UK. The chorus of "UK? OK!" is frustratingly dull, even grating, and neither the beat nor the rapper come with the sort of energy that blesses earlier tracks like "The Doldrums" or "One of Life's Pleasures." Guilty Simpson appears to be in steady B-list mode on "Trust", providing his gully vocals without the staggeringly simple yet effective rhymes that made albums like Ode to the Ghetto and Random Axe so subtly arresting. Other rappers like Moe Pope of the San Francisco Bay area and Tranqill out of London just feel like guys who would make a bigger mark on a full-length dedicated to their performances. Moe Pope in particular brings to mind Mos Def circa the late '90s in some respects, but in the context of this release feels a little like a token conscious rapper. It's really only Danny Brown who does a strong job of grabbing your ears and not letting go, though there's something hypnotic about "Indigo Glow"'s incense-infused vibe combined with Jehst's whispery cadence.

Still, Rapping With Paul White is an enthralling listen because of White's excellent production ear (just try not to put on a screw face while listening to the guitar squeal on "Rotten Apples") and his ability to make the diverse sample sources co-exist on the same disc. Yet, it doesn't really rise above the feeling of a compilation or mixtape slapped up to showcase a producer on the rise, either. At a brisk forty minutes, the album contains no truly memorable raps and a bunch of productions and skits that seem to disappear as quickly as they appeared. Rapping With Paul White continues to put the world on notice that White is on equal footing with many of the underground's most esteemed vinyl spinners. It just doesn't provide much evidence that White is as accomplished at working out what an album of his should sound like other than more of the sample-exploration we've already come to expect of him. What we have here is a fun diversion, an interesting trek through a variety of sounds and cities, but also something with a self-limiting shelf life.

6

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image