The Cool Kids

The Bake Sale EP

posted May 23, 2008 11:11:29 AM CDT | 37 comments

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Whether with Edan or Blueprint, independent Hip Hop has tried to shine a light by paying homage to the greatest year of rap music. Still, whatever underground emcee was studiously going way, way back, there was a DJ Khaled or Missy Elliott record that seemed to dwarf the efforts, in terms of mainstream awareness. The Cool Kids line up in the center. The Chicago-based duo seemed to make egoism and party-rocking their first priority, but this group also might teach a few rope-wearing tweenies a thing or two about why they made it that way.

"88" is archetypal Cool Kids. After half a minute of high-hats, Chuck Inglish adds the Rick Rubin guitar stabs that bring the 20-year time capsule to life. Inglish is more dedicated with the beat than emcee Mikey Rocks who has a very Brooklyn cadence, perhaps revealing influence for the Illinois rapper. The song might be textbook gimmick, in terms of a concept. Still, with more musicality than The Pack's "Vans" or Hypercrush's "Deloreon," The Cool Kids are embarrassing other acts at Hip Hop's crowded hipster house, standing securely alongside Kidz In The Hall with their own, very Cool Kid-like "Drivin' Down The Block." Although 1988 was heralded for KRS-One, Rakim and Kool Keith, "A Little Bit Cooler" sounds more like a 1997 Cam'ron throwback than golden age spit. "Eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles / How gangsta is that? Not gangster at all / You laughin' at me dog? / You shop at the mall / I shop at boutiques / Limited quantity sneaks," says Mikey. Although the content flows with zeitgeist of what most 19 year-olds (and 39 year-olds) appear to be about these days, it still might hint at the fact that The Cool Kids have more to do with packaging than they do performance.

The production on The Bake Sale is wherein the originality lies. Although he's obviously deeply influenced by boom-bap percussion, Chuck Inglish doesn't hesitate to dabble with Screw on "Black Mags" or Hyphy-tempos with "Mikey Rocks." Without sampling or sounding like a mixtape, the group deftly goes for loudness above accuracy, giving them a sound that the others can't. This lineup is nearly identical to what would have been Totally Flossed Out last year, only two additional tracks were added ("Jingling" and "What Up Man") sandwiched at start and end of the album.

Not since the arrival of Jurassic 5, has an EP (if 10 tracks can be rightfully called an EP) in Hip Hop been more stylized and more concentrated in its effort to bring fun music back. The Cool Kids might put more emphasis on being cool than lyrical, but with a booming system and tweeters tweetin', most listeners reason to give Mikey Rock the same pass they gave Cool C.

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