Saturday, February 11, 2012

Handsome Boy Modeling School: So... How's Your Girl? (1999)

(Tommy Boy)

!!!!! AVOID !!!!!

Big mistake of the year so far was devoting time to this because of a long-running admiration of Prince Paul and something that I guess could be termed "not exactly distaste" for Dan the Automator. This Get a Life-inspired oddity was their college radio-approved collaboration, and it... it... it sounds like the kind of hip hop record that college radio stations would approve of. Profoundly inoffensive and insipid, it's a chestnut of a time when it took more trip than hip to appeal to purportedly edgy gatekeepers of the "alternative" universe.

The lame sitcom premise of this bland record isn't much worth considering here; the big issue is that this pair's production talent doesn't translate at all to any great skill as performers. They seem aware of this, bringing in a hefty number of guests (including Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Mike D) who can't lift up the deadweight of the album's flimsy humor and flat beats. It's a testament to the dated anonymity of the music and lyrics that we're repeatedly asked to "check it out" when the question inevitably is, what are we checking out? There isn't anything! Other verses go on about computer viruses and DVDs against awkward sampling of classical music and AM soul hits, none of which are any less off-rhythm and stupid than the rapping.

This is all very much of its time, so it sometimes translates -- as on "Metaphysical" -- to astonishingly diluted Fugees; when you can see past the schoolboy performing and conceptual pretensions, there are some pleasant enough grooves. "The Truth" is perfectly passable until the whiny cringeworthy rhyming comes in. Usually, though, songs like "Sunshine" come off as parodies of sincere and skilled soul music, as though a mockery of things the Handsome Boys aren't gifted enough to duplicate, and that's bullshit. I have more to complain about, but I ain't even gonna finish this song; it's too long.

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