You’d be hard pressed to find a more hyped group in hip-hop than The Cool Kids. In just a couple years the Chicago natives have become underground darlings because of the originality of their sparse beats and cereal loving rhymes, topped off with a fresh-to-death fashion sense. Hipsters love 'em cause they can relate to the music without feeling too white, old-school heads love soaking in The Cool Kids’ nostalgia for the golden 80’s (a decade that wasn’t so golden for those of use who actually remember it), and the younger kids are dying to …
DJBooth Album Review
All that hype and still no album. By all accounts The Cool Kids debut album is set to drop this fall on Chocolate Industries, but in the meantime the crowd is starting to get restless. To keep the momentum rolling the dynamic duo of Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks have released The Bake Sale EP, a concisely packaged combination of new material interwoven with the tracks that built their trendsetter reputation. The Bake Sale offers just enough goodies to keep fans hungry for more, but if The Cool Kids don’t want their audience to starve to death, I suggest they feed us something more substantial as soon as possible.
The Cool Kids first started pedaling their product (if you’ll excuse the pun) by pumping the notoriously catchy track Black Mags, a bleakly echoing track that has its genesis in the usual rims-on-the-whip school of rap, until MCs Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks completely flip the formula by dropping unapologetically retro lyrics about how fly their bikes are. This is the track that made the underground do a collective auditory double take. It was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air, and I mean fresh in the hip-hop sense, not in the laundry detergent commercial sense.
Every generation has looked to the past to break the mold of their stale present, believe it or not our kids will one day refer to 50 Cent as old-school, and the Cool Kids have constructed their music to serve as a late-80’s hip-hop time machine. The aptly-named track '88 is fittingly dedicated to “bringin ’88 back,” complete with the era’s classic stripped down rhyme style and a snare so hard it sounds like a trash can being hit with a baseball bat. Now I’m old enough to remember 1988 so when they start dancing the Kid N’ Play at shows I’ll be impressed, but ’88 does bring me back to a time when style was everything, not a bank account, and damn it feels good to hear a breakbeat in the background. The Bake Sale is overflowing with nostalgically soaked tracks, on One Two they call themselves “the black Beastie Boys,” and on Gold And A Pager the boys mix some Tribe Called Quest-esque jazz bass lines with new school percussion. The Bake Sale isn’t an accurate reflection of what the 80’s were like, it’s what we wish the 80’s were like, and if that’s not the definition of nostalgia I don’t know what is.
The Cool Kids insisted the previously released Totally Flossed Out was an unsanctioned bootleg - well then those are some damn good bootleggers because only a small handful of new tracks differentiate The Bake Sale from Totally Flossed Out. What’s Up Man takes their bare-bones production style to new extremes by using vocal samples almost exclusively as the beat, along with some everyday-life lyrics about grocery shopping. It’s undeniably fresh, but these guys are a few years away from making a track consisting entirely of a people clapping and rhymes about how delicious Cheetos are (I want royalties when it happens). Even more exciting is Bassment Party, The Cool Kids most up-tempo song to date, a party-fueled track with a Supersonic vibe that would have made Salt-N-Pepa proud. I can’t front, The Bake Sale is a Klondike bar cool mixtape, but here’s the thing; coolness is notoriously short lived. The cool kids are cool just so long as they don’t actually become popular (and lots of “uncool” kids start rocking their music). Can Chuck and Mikey sustain fan interest long enough to turn hype into a career? I’m still not convinced. Show me an album and we’ll talk.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 05/23/08
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