Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

MC Paul Barman: Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud [Househusband, 2009]
On his first album since 2002's Paullelujah!, the whiny-voiced, Brown-educated complex rhymer, who has since sired two children by the appreciative woman who brings home the bacon, is as un-hip-hop as ever. Injecting maturity just to put some hair on his "Rothko"-"Costco" and "power"-"Schopenhauer" rhymes, he advises "Get help," implores "Go sane," and tells the kids to "Get along." Shored up by the respect and occasional beats of ?uestlove, MF Doom, and his old pal Prince Paul, he's sometimes hysterical, sometimes caring, and sometimes both. He's a serious artist who tells his realness-retailing rivals "check yourself--testicular cancer exam" and follows up with a rhyme that's also a double-crostic. A-