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So.. Hows Your Girl?

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Album Review

The concept behind Handsome Boy Modeling School — if you separate it from its origins in a Chris Elliott sitcom — can be taken as a subtle parody of hip-hop's player affectations: two geeky producers masquerading as jet-set male models. Given that framework, and the fact that those two producers are eccentric geniuses Prince Paul and Dan the Automator, you might expect So...How's Your Girl? to be a goof from top to bottom. And that isn't the case. The album ends up as more of a showcase for their eclecticism, tailoring productions to their collaborators and creating a colorful universe where classicist rap, turntablism, trip-hop, and electronica all get along comfortably. Parts of the album are surprisingly atmospheric, and rely more on the texture of the sound than the star power of the guest — which makes sense for a producer's album. The finished product does lack some of the sheer craziness one might have anticipated, but the meatiness of the best music also keeps the Elliott-centered comedic interludes from turning the project into a mere novelty. The DJ cuts — the duo's own "Rock n' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)" and the DJ Shadow/DJ Quest team-up "Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)" — are some of the most exciting tracks on the album, and of the rappers, Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Brand Nubian's Grand Puba and Sadat X turn in the most memorable performances. The electronic collaborations range the farthest afield, and provide some of the most intriguing highlights — especially the bluesy trip-hop of "The Truth," featuring Moloko crooner Roisin Murphy. Meanwhile, Alec Empire and El-P — each arguably the most abrasive experimentalist in his field — live up to their billing on the massively distorted "Megaton B-Boy 2000." It's true that a few of the quirkier experiments never quite get off the ground, but by and large, So...How's Your Girl? is packed with imaginative, intriguing music.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Handsome Boy Modeling School was a teaming of quirky super-producers Prince Paul (best-known for his work with De la Soul and Stetsasonic) and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura (fresh off his underground success with Kool Keith's Dr. Octagon album). Taking their name from an episode of the cult Chris Elliott sitcom Get a Life (which was sampled several times on their album), Paul and Dan adopted the über-stylish alter egos of Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather, respectively. Their debut album,...
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So.. Hows Your Girl?, Handsome Boy Modeling School
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