Review by Sean Taylor on 23/8/11
Rapping With Paul White
One Handed Music
I’ll be up front with you, I have all of Paul White’s digital releases, mixtapes, some of his limited edition 7” vinyls and purport he can easily be viewed as England’s answer to Madlib. Those of you also in the know probably found him by way of fellow One Handed Music artist Bullion, as both got picked up by the BBC’s Benji B and Mary Anne Hobbs amidst the new wave of ‘future beats’ hip hop. I’m not alone in my opinions: in 2009, shortly after the release of his debut album Paul White and The Purple Brain, the prominent producer / DJ Diplo said he was White’s "biggest fan"; as White’s work strongly parallels Diplo’s early (and largely unknown) psychedelic hip hop album Florida. So it seems White is creating a cult following; by day, a library music producer with credits from Channel 4 and the BBC to his name, and by night he is the ‘new hope’ for British hip hop.
Existing fans will find Rapping With Paul White a stronger release than Paul White and The Purple Brain whilst new listeners will find this is the coolest record they have yet to smoke weed too. In sum, the album includes eight rap tracks, seven instrumentals and a couple of skits. The skits are welcome brain food for sample spotters; they also seem to contextualise, or book-end the narrative in all of White’s collage based work. Rapping With Paul White further accentuates the producer's love of British audio books, radio dramas and music library curiosities. His avoidance of the traditional soul, jazz and funk hip hop sample sources in favour of progressive and psychedelic rock, retro television and the abandoned vinyl of charity shops affects an intrinsically English hip hop semantic, that is both original and appropriate.
Although White has toyed with the idea of collaborating with rappers before (last year, he reworked one of his own tracks, Ancient Treasure, by having Detroit's Guilty Simpson rip gangster prose over the beat) this second LP finds the producer concededing half of the album to some of hip-hop's finest; featuring Danny Brown, Guilty Simpson, Homeboy Sandman, Jehst and more. This is no surprise really as Paul White & The Purple Brain, was co-released by both One-Handed and Los Angeles-based Now Again, a sister label of Stones Throw Records (Madlib, Dilla, DOOM etc). Stones Throw artist Guilty Simpson appears twice on the Rapping With Paul White, bringing his Detroit ghetto experience to the stand out track Trust Dirty.
Reminiscent of his spits with Dabrye, yet with an entirely more digestible flow and discernible story, Guilty Simpson seems more at home with his abstract hip hop here; perhaps because Paul has given him an easy run with this and Dirty Slang, two of the most downbeat and accessible tracks on the album. Production wise, Trust Dirty is definitive Paul White indulging in his penchant for sombre and dense psychedelic timbres; as ghostly shepherd tones descend upon dusty swinging kicks and arpeggiated synths build around syncopated drum metal and lusciously layered claps. Trust Dirty is also an example of how, throughout the release, it is really hard to tell whether some sounds are samples or synths; that’s the level of sophisticated pastiche and synth work we are listening to here.
This makes it really difficult to describe Rapping With Paul White more, in terms of sonic components, but once you’ve heard it, you’ll thank me for not attempting this too much; the real joy of Paul White is to be found by simply losing yourself in his wondrous sonic dreams.
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