The Cool Kids are a hip hop duo from Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan. The duo consists of Antoine "Mikey Rocks" Reed (originally from Matteson, Illinois) and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll (originally from Mount Clemens, Michigan). The Bake Sale is the second EP released by The Cool Kids.
Review by Clayton Purdom
Despite reams of online hype and commercial anticipation, the release of the Cool Kids' debut EP still radiated sonic excitement, a blast at once sharp, funny, and intimate. Here, after all, is a triumph of absolute aestheticism. The name fulfills itself, not just in that these kids do seem pretty cool (all 16-bit name-drops and shoe talk), but because musically each moment -- each immaculately chosen drum hit, each spare sci-fi sonic embellishment, each depth-charge punch line -- is precision-placed for maximum efficacy. Which is to say, though the point may be a bit moot, maximum coolness. This is a production exhibition first and foremost, and in that regard the EP's success is absolute, from the Clipse-via-Beastie Boys crush of "88" to the Fannypack bounce of "Bassment Party" to the indescribably fresh "What Up Man," which might contain the funniest idea in post-millennial hip-hop this side of Lil Wayne's flow. The Cool Kids recast mainstream hip-hop as a medium of geeked-out self-reflexivity, which isn't a viewpoint that's been handled rewardingly since the Native Tongues' loopy, album-centric heyday. But instead of lamenting the genre's artistic erosion lyrically (like the pedantic Talib Kweli), they infuse their music with the spirit of that time and prove through example how the golden age sound earned its name. Still, the best part of this release isn't the sainted artists it recalls, alternately EPMD, DJ Premier, and the Bomb Squad. Like the Ramones way before them, this revivalism isn't for the nostalgic or the academic. It's for -- well, there's that name again.
The Cool Kids
The Bake Sale EP
(Chocolate Industries; 2008)
Combined Rating: 80%
Separating the Cool Kids from their mythology may be futile, totally pointless because Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks’ net-wide omnipresence is undeniable at this stage of their existence; in the era of the twenty-second attention span, they’ve oversaturated the market approximately fifteen songs into their career. It’s tremendously unfortunate, though, because were the hype not so lung-smotheringly thick, The Bake Sale would most likely serve as a trash can thrown violently through the critical community’s ivory tower’s window, shattering expectations and preconceptions and misconceptions and bullshit predictions with a primal veracity that excites the senses like sugary cereal on Saturday morning.
You get my point. Expectations are a bitch and that succubus hangs over every breathless witticism, every electrically charged snare hit here on, lest we forget, the Cool Kids’ first formal introduction, an emphatic mission statement of a record that sounds like some glorious blend of what In My Mind (2005) should have been and what It Takes A Nation of Millions (1988) always has been, but simultaneously like a creation all its own. And that’s the Cool Kids’ premise, really: revivalist sensibilities, cheeky flyness, and beats that hit, slap, and stutter with the fervor of a credit card-wielding seven-year-old in a toy store, all reconstituted as inventiveness.
The Kids’ production plays the starring role here, often consisting solely of an impossibly heavy drum pattern accompanied by a lone synth, marching along, smacking down, leaden. These beats aren’t minimalistic, they are fully orchestrated, oversaturated symphonies simply condensed into a series of super-dense snare hits: low-rent Tchaikovsky. “What Up Man” is primarily Chuck calling out the beats’ drum pattern (“Did you know I made this beat with my mouth and a bell?”), a brief neon blast coming through during the hook, celebrating living in abject poverty—willfully or no—in both spirit and its deliciously trashy low budget nature. “A Little Bit Cooler” lurches along, a defiantly cool bucket of a track (“How gangsta is that / Not gangsta at all”), burbling electro-erotica and spring-loaded drums in tow, featuring the Kids waxing poetic about their trend-setting ways and commenting on the foolishness of hip-hop’s spirit of gamesmanship (“I’m ‘bout to say screw it / And grow a jheri curl / Wear a diaper like Cupid / Or something else stupid / And see if people do it”) while simultaneously one-upping the competition, making a line like this seem effortless: “You clown jokesters pose for poseur posters.”
The story of the group’s existence explains the effectiveness of their aesthetic. Mikey and Chuck initially met up in Chicago with the intent to produce beats for other artists, but soon found themselves high on their own product: discovering their sedated flows and sardonic rhymes fit best over their sparse, retro-futuristic beats. That could be ego, but the Kids display a synergy with their beats that’s frequently astounding, seamlessly siphoning that strength into a fuck-all flow, a supposed shallowness both trend-baiting and satirical. Of course, short-changing the duo’s lyrical prowess would be a mistake, because the “I guess it goes full circle like a Cheerio” quips are genuinely grin-inducing and, if not as spectacular as the ethereal filth of the beats, they are merely slight in the best, catchiest way and little more. The Cool Kids possess a sly nature that’s so basely infectious, so openly tongue-in-cheek, they are quite obviously laughing at each other’s punchlines, in mutual awe of how aptly-named they are.
Because they are the cool kids as much as the Cool Kids. I mean, they got the Dyno with the black mags and Starter caps with hologram tags, and that shit is cool because they have rendered it so; because Chuck gets busy as a bee on his bike grips, and Mikey’s baggin’ chicks whose shirts look like they stuffed two melons in, and they are the rulers of this juvenile utopia self-created from the masterful brushstrokes of their restrained bravado (full of even more bravado because the bravado is restrained), their promulgations sending shockwaves through their own realities. So it doesn’t matter whether or not the law is after Mikey due to his bike’s illegal level of flyness, because, for the song’s three minute duration, its creators, and by extension, its listeners, know it to be true.
This clumsy recommendation essentially amounts to wild gesticulation and inarticulate gushing; if I thought my editor would allow me to post a link to a Youtube video consisting of me waving my arms, stammering uncontrollably before falling on the floor in something resembling an epileptic fit, I would. [I would too; get on that, Col. – Ed.] And I would shake, on the floor, to the jangly-best use of a ride cymbal since forever even if that’s not true, because: fucking “What It Iz.” This is the best 32 minutes of my life when I’m listening to it, and makes me want to invent some horribly awkward dance to accompany its awesomeness. Prejudices be damned, this is the best hip-hop record this year, and if that doesn’t satiate your hype-riddled appetite, then you would be well-served to shut off your computer, removing yourself from the power of the web, and throw this in your car stereo. Believe it or not, it’s a lot of fun, and it makes people notice you at stoplights if you play it loud enough. Really: when you cruise into an intersection, and Chuck goes, “I can go catfish fishin’ / And come up with a whale,” I defy you not to start flossin’. Or at least your best approximation of that.
23 May 2008