Ah, camp. Between the two of them, Prince Paul and Dan the Automator have done countless concept albums, most notably the respective triumphs of A Prince Among Thieves and Deltron 3030. Neither producer has been afraid to get a little silly, and their talents behind the boards have almost always kept them from tumbling over the line. Handsome Boy Modeling School’s first album, 1999’s So … How’s Your Girl?, was a solid collaboration between these two stars, with sufficiently hot beats that were never dragged down by the silliness inherent in the idea.
White People is the appropriately titled follow up. Appropriate because, for the most part, white people are okay, but a few bad apples have ruined the whole bunch. Ignoring the skits, which feature two thankfully long-retired Saturday Night Live characters, Father Guido Sarducci and the Ladies’ Man, the humor isn’t played much through the twelve remaining tracks.
But the guest stars are. Over those twelve songs, there are twenty-four featured guests. “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Could Never Hip-Hop Like This) Part 2” features six different people, including the horrifying Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and a yet-to-be-found Rahzel. The song is long, ambitious and awful. There are similarly horrible missteps on “The Hours” and “Greatest Mistake,” both of which are so bad that I have yet to get through them in one sitting. “The Hours,” a scream-fest with Chino Moreno of the Deftones, that grates on the skin with aggression, whereas “Greatest Mistake” brings in John Oates (yeah, that one) to grate on the skin with sap. It’s shockingly bad, particularly after “Breakdown,” a similar yet pleasant song with Jack Johnson that would seem to imply that Dan and Paul know how to craft a soft rock song.
“Pleasant” describes a number of other tracks, such as the Cat Powered trip-hoppish “I’ve Been Thinking” and the obligatory Pharrell Williams guest spot on “Class System.” Most of the record simply coasts along, with the only real stand-outs being the single “The World’s Gone Mad,” featuring Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand, and “Are You down with It” with the always interesting Mike Patton. But the best song is, sadly, opener “If It Wasn’t For You,” with a great appearance by De La Soul and an excellent beat. I say sadly because, like white people, the album seemed to have so much promise in the beginning.