Prince Paul, 'Politics of the Business' (Razor & Tie) / The Majesticons, 'Beauty Party' (Big Dada/Ninja Tune)

5
Politics of the Business
Critical Mass
Label: Razor & Tie

by Jon Caramanica

Back in 1999, former De La Soul producer Prince Paul released A Prince Among Thieves, a concept album about a naive young MC chewed up and spit out by the game. A savage satire with a breakbeat laugh track, Thieves was bitterly funny and sharper than a box cutter. Politics of the Business is a thematic sequel, but the harpoons that Paul hurls at the industry's blubber have lost their edge. Comedian Dave Chappelle is hilarious as a fickle record exec, but his loose riffs have nothing on Eminem foil Steve Berman. The album's best moments--like "Crhyme Pays," featuring Tash and the Beatnuts--come when Paul simply lets his cast do what they do best: brag and boast. Paul's a torchbearer who longs to burn shit down; poet/rapper Mike Ladd is a subversive party crasher, pressing his ear to the wall of the VIP room, hoping to skim a few trade secrets. On 2000's Gun Hill Road, credited to the Infesticons, Ladd and crew reveled in angular artrap, as if denying the mainstream's very existence. With Beauty Party, Ladd practices a stealthier satire. Over beats that flawlessly imitate West Coast G-funk and Southern bounce, the Majesticons highlight commercial hip-hop's yawning credibility gap by amping up the bourgeois posturing to the point of absurdity."Suburb Party" features underground guru El-P waxing arrhythmic about Sotheby's, Ikea, and "apricot exfoliator." On "MajestWest Party," a Dr. Dre sound-alike admits that he's "Never been to the pen.... I write my niggas every week to get new material.... Their stories, my glory." Ladd's hardly the first indie rapper to yank the mainstream's floss. But there's nothing stale about songs like "Piranha Party," on which two female MCs rhyme about the fragility of capitalism over a Neptunes-style beat that's so hot you can almost imagine it bangin' in a club near you. Now that'd be a revolution.

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