Dynamic duo: Collaborators create magic
Handsome Boy Modeling School: White People
Lately a few people have commented that I have a very "fair" way of reviewing acts– in the sense that I seldom completely trash a group. This is true. I don't trash many musicians, and though I have my musical preferences, I tend not to criticize a specific kind of music.
Don't get me wrong– I run across horrible music all the time. But I'd rather focus on the positives than give publicity to the crap out there.
So, without further ado, I'm going to put you on to the latest magic to come through the door. White People, the newest album from producer/A&R combo Dan the Automator and Prince Paul– better known together as Handsome Boy Modeling School– is a CD that slipped under my radar for a spell. And it's my duty to not let that happen to you.
White People is proof that some great musicians only get better with time. Prince Paul and Dan the Automator have stellar recording careers, both having tasted cult and mainstream success. Through their 30 years combined experience in the music industry, they're able to facilitate artistic collaboration that multicultural pop ethnomusicologists can only dream about. The best part: They make the collaborations work perfectly.
The two have formed a partnership that provides sonic backdrops for the who's who of the progressive music scene. White People's lead single, "The World's Gone Mad," pairs Bay Area rapper Del The Funkee Homosapien with reggae vocalist Barrington Levy. The result is a down-tempo track somewhere between Gorillas and Marley's classic Chant Down Babylon.
And that's just the beginning. As the album progresses, contributions from Jack Johnson, rockers Cat Power, Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, John Oats and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes, and N.E.R.D up the ante.
If that doesn't have you intrigued, check out "The Hours," a track featuring the guitars and vocals of Chino Moreno (Def Tones) alongside Canadian turntable wiz Kid Koala and NYC indie rap pioneers El-P and Cage.
"A Day In The Life" offers a similar progressive rock/hip hop amalgam with Prince Paul and Dan The Automator bringing together The Mars Volta with Wu-Tang Clan's Rza and DITC's AG over a track featuring human beat-box master Rahzel.
Between these masterfully orchestrated tracks are interludes by Tim Meadows of Saturday Night Live. He plays his Ladies Man persona to match the Handsome Boy Modeling School theme of training losers to become gentlemen. (And his side-splitting dry humor doesn't detract from the flow.)
Despite the A-list collaborators, the genius of White People lies in Prince Paul and Dan the Automator's amazing drum programming, crate digging (they're master samplers), song writing, and understanding of how to create a unified backdrop for artists from different sides of the music spectrum.
This is truly melting-pot music. Let's hope Handsome Boy Modeling School is a catalyst for more collabo's like these in the future.