Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cool Kids: Pros

I didn't give them much attention early on because after the beats, there wasn't much to talk about. After a while I simmered down and realized that the Cool Kids are energy. They're all about being hip and creating a scene. Every time I press play on "Black Mags" or "Pump Up the Volume" a spontaneous party arises and I'm the only one invited. Party and hype is all over their rhymes, beats and "style". And from watching their performances on YouTube you're relieved that they might be alright with rapping for the sake of rapping--i.e. The Show is their product (as opposed to jealousy and empty drama). Being labeled party centric, the Cool Kids get some slack cut; I'm not as serious as a critic. Although knowing myself all too well, I still question there seriousness. Is it there? If it isn't that's okay, I'll permanently chalk them under Fads. If meaning is present, will it show? A few months ago "Action Figures" is the track that made me give them another listen. On it they were able to keep the sounds cool but elevate the seriousness while allowing their silly similes/metaphors slip through. The outcome was beautiful. Ideally they could offer their party tips while growing as artists and solidify their presence. If the ideals don't show through, who could argue good/throwback party music?

The spare, loud and at times, obnoxious, beats seem to make the Cool Kids. They provide this warming nostalgic pleasure (a nostalgia I've never actually lived through I add). On their EP, Totally Flossed Out, if the beats weren't there, I'd be truant too. Chuck's beats sound perfectly yanked out of '88 without any hitches. The bass element, especially in the car, is never a bad thing. The only pitfall would be that the beats are too one dimensional--would the Kids be able to move outside phunky, phat and phresh 80s? I'm assuming no one will notice for a while which could give him more time to create range. Hooks go hand-in-hand with the beats. Simple and concise is usually better, especially considering the party genre. 80s it might be, Southern it could be. Every song's beat/hook is cut and dry; it's very scripted (almost Xeroxed from 80's performers). After you've got your rocks off over the beats and hook, what's left?

Mikey is worthy of expectations. He's young, 19 and got his own beat maker, what's to fret about? He's short on caring hence the tight jeans and wolf t-shirt on a national ad for Rhapsody. So his lyrics are full of light jokes and similes and it's not a problem. On numerous occasions he moves through the material swiftly with a succint, almost nasally, flow. There are plenty of flashes of the seriousness I seek too. Even his weightless rhymes sound like they come to him and get out of him with ease. And not all of his minimalistic approaches are denounced. I just think he could handle more. Like I said, Chuck ain't terrible but someone should screen his rhymes.

They haven't released an album yet; they're independent. How important is it today to still maintain your freedom (see: Nas and Def Jam). EPs, an unlikely commercial success, is the Cool Kids' only medium... besides the internet. Remember kids, albums don't sell and you never made money off them either. Ringtones is where it's at. iTunes. They're patient with financial success and in turn, they're growing a solid fan base. Call it grass roots rap but the Cool Kids will be successful because of the adherence to The Show. Lest we forget it's music and the most important thing is performing. Hype, respect, and not having complexes and big dreams (i.e. yachts and private jets by 2009) can carry them far. From what I've gleamed off interviews too, they're more interested in establishing a base (no Bush), and building upon that. Their livelihood relies in their energy--what they give us, they'll receive that back and much more. According to their MySpace page says they're releasing another EP, Bake Sale, on May 20th. But not before they drop their mixtape, That's Stupid, coming any day now. It won't be until the Fall '08 that their debut, When Fish Rides Bicycle, drops.

It may seem like I'm taking a hard line against the Cool Kids... and I am. I slam the POTENTIAL sticker on them (and I'm making sure it sticks!). Mikey is and can be ill; Chuck and his beats are still to die for; and their style is low-fi fly (I know, a paradox). Could we listen to 14 straight party jams? Probably not. I'm assuming, or hoping, that by the time they hit their stride they'll have added finer decals to their repertoire.


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