October 6, 2017

Will Amazon.com be around when grandma’s gone, mom?


This month marks the fifteenth anniversary of rapper MC Paul Barman’s weird, smart, hyperactive debut, Paullelujah!, an album distinguished by its exuberant rhymes, its careful production, and a palette of references broad enough to include lines like “I could rock the mic to silence by John Cage / with the arty flavor, I shoot the gift like a party favor.” It’s pretty hard to imagine any other rapper spitting this:

People repping clones accused me of using rap as a stepping stone
I thought about this crap when I was schlepping home
Is it cuz I go for the laugh?
Cuz I’m not from the Ave?
Cuz I target the fans that you wish you didn’t have?
Had I made a mockery of a culture like Choco Taco?
Was I to rap as France was to Morocco—
Was I colon rap colon colon France colon Morocco?

But probably the best way to remember Paullelujah! is by revisiting the two cuts on the record that dramatize the life of an anarchist bookstore. These are, of course, Anarchist Bookstore Part 1 and Anarchist Bookstore Part 2, both produced by the one and only MF Doom. Part 2 gets tremendously NSFW, but Part 1 is comparatively family-friendly, and an affectionate portrait of leftist bookselling and community spaces, where contrasting motives jostle against each other, political questions become social, social questions become political, and dubious assertions about Noam Chomsky are the norm.

Happy birthmonth, Paullelujah!. You don’t sound a day over… well, no, you sound fifteen years old. But you sound good.