Song 276: Handsome Boy Modeling School, “Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)” (1999)


Things that seem to be hard to do when creating hip-hop: 1) Being funny. 2) Collaborating with many people without overcrowding the music. Somehow, Handsome Boy Modeling School accomplished both these things masterfully.

Handsome Boy Modeling School (whose name was a reference to an episode of “Get a Life”) featured producers Dan the Automator and Prince Paul in the guises of Nathaniel Merriweather and Chest Rockwell, two wealthy and sophisticated socialites. The record skewers music industry greed and general snobbery, and it’s full of ridiculous touches.

Prince Paul, one of hip-hop’s primary architects and producer (among many, many other records) of De La Soul’s seminal first three albums. He’s also one of the originators of the hip-hop skit, that terrible trend that doesn’t seem to go away. On Handsome Boy Modeling School’s debut So… How’s Your Girl?, however, the touches of humor are evenly distributed and add some surrealism to their collection of songs.

“Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)” is a sequel to Dr. Octagon’s track “Bear Witness,” and it features Dan, Paul, DJ Shadow, and DJ Quest. Despite this dense pedigree, “Holy Calamity” never sounds too full, or like there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. The track is bottom-heavy but fleet-footed, and it never lets up.


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