Back in 2004, I had yet to really develop any really musical identity, as I have no doubt stated on many occasions in my boring little anecdotal intro’s. However, I did have a friend was rather entrenched in the hip hop culture, and would recommend me album after album. Most of the time, I’d give it one listen and then just not bother; for one, rap sucked, and two, this was all just so…ethnic
. Then, he asked me if I had heard the song Clint Eastwood
. I of course answered yes, for who hadn’t? He then reccomended me a little album that not only had the guy made the beat to that song, but even had a song with that rapper! I was ever so excited, and I immediately went out and bought White People
While at first I wasn’t particularly entranced by the music, I was completely impressed with all the people they had gotten to take guest spots. Melding in many different genres, the album features everyone from Mike Patton to Pharrel, and while it is to different degrees of success, it’s still quite a treat to hear Mike Patton on Are You Down With It
. Prince Paul and Dan Nakamura (the duo behind the madness) as a general rule don’t recruit superfluous artists just to name drop (the exception being Rock And Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Pt 2
), and its almost always a grand moment to realize one of your favorite 80’s pop artists is making a guest appearance.
While the guest artists might be a neat treat, Dan and Paul still assert that they are the dominant force behind the group, and its with no small amount of variety that they frolic around hip hop, rock, pop, electronica, and trip hop (although those results are…not so good). Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find something here to appease you; if you’re looking for poppy love ballads, look no further than Breakdown
or Greatest Mistake
. In the mood for a more straight hip hop fix? If It Wasn’t For You
and The Worlds Gone Mad
will fill your needs. But perhaps you want a little bit of rock/rap fusion? The aforementioned Rock And Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Pt 2
or A Day In the Life
are where its at.
Dan the Automator and Prince Paul have always been known for their unique production styles (Prince Paul handled De La Soul, while Dan is most notable for producing the first Gorillaz album and Deltron 3030
), an that’s still readily apparent here. Throughout the varius styles of music explored on the album, they almost always do so with an undertoned grace; the new version of Breakdown
somehow surpasses Jack Johnson’s excellent original due to the strange, yet fitting, additions by the duo to the sound. They also do equally well with traditional hip hop songs, albeit with less imagination. Of course, on A Day In the Life
, HBMS make perhaps the amalgamation of everything they’ve been doing; featuring RZA, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the song seems to have too much talent to succeed. Not only does it succeed, it’s at once the best rap, rock, and pop song on the album, with the guitar squeals from Omar, hooks from Cedric, and rapping from RZA all intertwining effortlessly.
Unfortunately, the album, like so many other Dan the Automator projects in particular, gets bogged down in itself. Of course, the skits do become tiring after a few listens; even though Dating Game
is a fairly nifty jab at hip hop culture, the concept wears thin after a while, and then the “Handsome Boy Modeling School” promo’s are really just idiotic in the first place. Even disregarding that, though, there’s just too much material here. A few songs could do with being left off altogether (The Hours
, Class System
, and First…And Then
), and then there are songs that just go on a bit too lng for their own good. It’s not a huge detriment; even those cut songs all show some kind of promise or are an enjoyable listen occasionally, but they feel like b-sides left on to extend the albums length.
Regardless, White People
certainly is a triumph in genre melding. While it is still mainly a showcase of a variety of hip hop artists, Dan and Paul integrate other artists so well, they almost come close to to perfecting the rap-rock melding formula. When you throw in Cat Power and Jack Johnson into the mix with Del tha Funky Homosapien and Mike Patton, how can an album not end up being great? I really recommend to this to just about anyone; the variety is large enough so that you’ll find at least a few songs to enjoy, and hey, maybe you’ll get into De La Soul because of this album. Which is enough to spend 12 bucks on anyways.
I’ve Been Thinking
A Day in the Life