Are You Down With It
Smooth seduction and a touch of hip-hop/punk abrasiveness from Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton. "Another Handsome Boy graduate," says Dan, referring to the Music to Make Love To Your Old Lady By album by Patton, Nathaniel Merriweather and Jennifer Charles.
The World's Gone Mad
The album's first single came together on three different occasions – Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos dropped by San Francisco while on tour, Del The Funky Homosapien got Handsome at his house, while reggae great Barrington Levy came in, from, where else, Jamaica.
"Franz Ferdinand formed their band partially because they wanted to see if they could make a live band sound like what Doctor Octagon did," says Dan. "With Barrington, reggae's always been a big influence for our stuff, so it made a lot of sense to go there. And if you look at the history of MCs, Del's had a longer viable run than almost any other MC out there. He stays true to his own thing. That we get to work with him is great for us."
Dating Game (skit)
Handsome bassist Merlo Podlewski also plays with Jack Johnson. "Merlo's very instrumental to our stuff," says Dan. "He was in the band Spain with Josh Haden, who also sings on our records. I've seen Jack go from the 100-people venues to the big concerts. My tracks have appeared in his movies and he's sung on some of them."
"The whole album is based on people doing something they normally wouldn't have done," says Paul. "That's what makes it our style, that it's not another one of whoever's tracks. We don't take people totally out of their element, but we apply the make-up."
It's Like That
A showcase for Hieroglyphics' Casual. "He's an under-appreciated MC in a lot of circles, considering how good he actually is," says Dan. "So it seemed like a good place to give him some light, kind of like we did with Del and Gorillaz."
I Am Complete (skit)
I've Been Thinking
Dan and Cat Power's Chan Marshall are karaoke buddies. "I think as a vocalist she's amazing," he says. "She's kind of like the ideal prototype of what we do with a Handsome Boy makeover -- a song based around the idea of something that you're not necessarily accustomed to hearing from someone."
Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Part 2
A sequel to the hit from “So…How's Your Girl?,” this history lesson on musical cross-pollination features Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington, Lord Finesse, Qbert, Jazzy Jay and Grand Wizard Theodore.
"We've been fortunate enough to work with both the people who originated a lot of stuff in hip-hop and some of the guys who have perfected it," says Dan. "So we put them with the people who have done the best job of co-opting hip-hop to make the biggest impact in electronica and rock. Hip-hop is the biggest influence in pop culture. We put that all together in one song and it tells a big story.
Handsome Boy graduate El P is joined by Cage, Hatebreed's F. Sean Martin and The Deftones' Chino Moreno. "Chino's a Bay Area guy," says Dan. "I got to experience the Deftones lifestyle. We'd go into the studio and they'd bring their own tattoo artist."
The producers produce the producer: N.E.R.D. and Neptunes boy wonder Pharrell Williams. "Ultimately, with everyone on the record, we are all fans of each other and peers of each other at the same time, which makes it interesting," says Dan. "Since we're both producers he respects our space. He just let us do our thing. Though if he wants to loan me some money, that’d be cool.”
Also on the track is Julee Cruise, best known as director David Lynch's ethereal-voiced siren.
First... And Then
"I've known Dres since ‘De La Soul Is Dead,’" says Paul. "Quite some time ago, before they put out the first Black Sheep record."
"We've been lucky with this record," says Dan. "We've had longstanding relationships with De La or Dres or Del or Rob Swift (who appears on several tracks). We get to work with people that we know and like. It's a big Handsome Boy community."
A Day In the Life
It's fun to imagine The Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez chilling at the Wu Mansion with RZA and AG, "but I don't think anyone ever gets to meet RZA," says Dan. The magic of recording technology.
Good Hygiene (skit)
Pharell Williams hipped Handsome Boy to modern U.K. jazzbo Jamie Cullum before he really broke, while John Oates contributed a lot more than the world's most Handsome mustache.
"The guy's a legend," says Dan. "All the other people on the record, it makes a certain kind of sense, but with him we were hitting a whole other world, so it was pretty exciting. He was very professional and very into doing it – all that we could ask for."
Longtime collaborator Paula Frazer (Tarnation) is also on the track. "She's one of the really incredible voices out there," says Dan. "For me personally it's an incredible resource because she lives in my neighborhood. We shop at the same supermarket."