Album of the Week: “The Bake Sale” EP by The Cool Kids

The_Cool_Kids_The_Bake_Sale

The Cool Kids
The Bake Sale EP
XL, 2008

Daniel’s Thought

The Bake Sale opens, quite literally, with “tick tick clap, tick tick-tick-tick clap” alongside interweaving “boom’s.” Starting a song, and even more so a record, with verbal percussion is odd, but here The Cool Kids present a whole new range when it comes to hip-hop. The lyrics to “What Up Man” back up the eccentric production with lines about ice cream (“I’ll sell the ice cream too, two scoops for a bill“) and grocery store runs (“Now I’m standing in long lines/ Lady with the baby/ Probably buying some dog food/ Dog probably crazy“). This is what The Bake Sale is: a quirky and intimidating record that celebrates the unstoppable range of hip-hop art.

“One, Two” is the next track, playing off of hop-scotch playground rhymes with a diddling synth-driven track. The hook is originally efficient, and yet there’s some sort of familiarity. “One, two, lace up my shoes/ Three to the four when I stepped out the door/ Five, six, kick a little something with The Cool Kids then we do it again.” On “Black Mags,” Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks play off of “hip-hop car talk” and discuss their love for bikes. “Pedal down the foothills,” they preach. “Wheelies on the front!”

Most of The Bake Sale is thudding self-awareness, where Chuck and Mikey rarely find themselves struggling to get their messages out. The fact is, they don’t need to struggle. They’re collected to a point where they sound refined, yet semi-soothed almost to where you question the effort. It’s a weird enigma, but it works well. This easy approach and nonchalance plays well into their quirky lyrical content: “You clown jokesters pose for poser posters.”

As methodical as their cadence and lyrics stand, the production bounces in the opposite direction. Jingling all over the record are mumbling synth-bass backdrops that rock a car audio system with the best of them, and the original production plays to lots of shifting synths, coordinated drum patterns, swooping echoes and flashes of surprise. Without samples, Chuck Inglish utilizes his shifty imagination to create original works that standout and fly.

The Bake Sale pushes originality and caters to the experimental branches of hip-hop. It’s not even out there as far as sound, but it’s self-identifying art with an edge. As close to Clipse as anyone can get, The Cool Kids have that calm demeanor and Neptunes feel without sacrificing originality. Pushing a new style within hip-hop as well, The Bake Sale represents a certain movement within the culture (where did we get those thick rimmed glasses? Probably The Cool Kids.). This is hip-hop that isn’t explored as much as it should be, and after listening to The Bake Sale EP I’m pretty sure you’ll be having the same thought.

Gus’ Thought

Fashion has always been huge in defining different time periods within hip-hop. These days, tighter pants have replaced saggy jeans. In fact, you may be more likely to see your favorite rapper in a button down, clear-lense glasses, hi-top Nike’s and some sort of fitted or snapback hat as opposed to an over-sized white T, do-rag, chains and sunglasses. There has been a push toward more of a throwback style and everyone seems to be doing it. Professional sports teams regularly wear throwback jerseys and hats, paying homage to the past. Companies such as Mitchell & Ness sell old school sportswear at outrageous prices because in all honesty, it looks dope and people will buy it. These days, throwing it back to the 80’s and 90’s is what’s up. Who started all of this? People may say different, but I would say The Cool Kids. Consisting of Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, everything about them was cool. Their skinny jeans, bright puffy coats, zip-up hoodies and fly kicks was something to behold. Not only did they look the part of cool, their music sounded cool too.

Their 2008 EP, The Bake Sale, has the feel of a great 90’s boom-bap album with a futuristic, 21st century twist. Inglish’s production pounds with the consistency of a heavyweight boxer. On “What Up Man,” he records his own voice, mixing it to sound as if a computer is beatboxing. Later, “Basement Party” soars with the energy of your friend’s dungy college party with shitty speakers, beer pong and frothy beer. With each beat on this EP, Chuck was introducing himself and bringing a new style into the conversation.

While Chuck throws in lyrically, Mikey handles much of rapping. Lyrically, these two aren’t necessarily ultra political and in this case I don’t think that’s the point. Mikey has a way of working with Chuck’s beats to perfection and with references to Sega, Fruity Pebbles and shopping at boutiques with limited quantity sneaks on “A Little Bit Cooler” he brings back the good old days as he disses people left and right. He doesn’t waste any bars and gets right to the point. As he says on “One, Two”:

“What it is, what it is come check the noise/ It’s the new black version of the Beastie Boys/ Chuck E., Mikey, some dudes don’t like me/ Don’t care, I’m dope, they lame, so bite me.”

There is a certain smoothness that comes with Mikey’s flow. It’s not over-complicated and in no way is this a bad thing. Their simplicity is wrapped up in their complexity as their coolness comes from the fact that they’re making fun of “coolness,” while still being cool. It’s wild.

When you look at the style of dress and music with groups such as the New Boyz, Pac Div, Casey Veggies, Chip Tha Ripper and Curren$y it is hard not to point back to The Cool Kids. There was a certain charisma that came with their approach to The Bake Sale and their tantalizing approach to hip-hop. Perhaps the coolest thing about The Cool kIds is that the sound on their 2011 album, When Fish Ride Bicycles, is nothing like it was in 2008.

Listen!

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