Most people associate Handsome Boy Modeling School with their cameo in Jack Johnson’s new song “Breakdown.” White People, the band’s latest album, however, has much more to offer than this catchy tune. The super-producers, Prince Paul and Dan “The Automator,” fuse hip hop beats with an eclectic blend of R&B in the presence of hip hop greats like De La Soul and Del the Funkee Homosapien. Other big names include Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. Tim Meadows even brings out his trademark Ladies’ Man style in a few interludes that keep the feeling informal.
The common thread throughout the album is hip hop, but that label is not nearly descriptive enough for this mix of stylish and smooth sounds. While White People will surely please the most devout hip hop fans, it also appeals to those less rooted in a single musical genre. The impressive track, “The World’s Gone Mad,” fuses solid hip hop with reggae sounds while other tracks like “I’ve Been Thinking,” include the smooth voice of solo artist Cat Power whose sound resembles the best of soft jazz singers.
There are, however, a couple songs that strive to do too much, using distorted sounds that make listeners uncomfortable. “Are You Down With It?” featuring Mike Patton falls far short of the smooth feeling that is Handsome Boy Modeling School. “The Hours” is even worse, failing to do what the rest of the tracks do so well. All that aside, Prince Paul and “The Automator” have created a solid album that gives lots of attention to modern hip hop.
[Aaron Marienthal is back with a vengeance.]