Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hip-Hopnoymous No More

Chicago hip-hop duo The Cool Kids will be releasing their debut album May 20th. Excitement! Below is the unedited version of my first UR Chicago article profiling the duo.

Writers profiling the next great hope for hip-hop should really send Nas a Hallmark card. Or maybe a dozen roses. Without his recent album's “Hip-hop is Dead” eponymous single, there would be one less thing to point to when contrasting hip-hop's much discussed decline against a new group or artist with the potential to resurrect the genre. Chuck Inglish, 22, and Mikey Reed, 19, of the Chicago based hip-hop duo the Cool Kids just might be that next great hope – with the potential not only to resurrect hip-hop but redefine it.

While the Cool Kids have a hip-hop sound, they don't consider themselves hip-hop artists. “We have a very different style of music,” Inglish explains. “Whatever we try to do will always be good...but I can't justify doing one style of music when I'm influenced by a lot of other stuff.”

The two MCs “came across each other [through] making beats, doing the Myspace thing, being in Chicago and all of that,” Inglish begins. The two met to listen to each others' beats, bringing out Mikey's talent for rapping and Inglish soon began producing tracks for him. “I took a dip at rapping too and figured out that I wasn't too bad,” Inglish says. “We figured out the majority of our songs had the both of us on it, so we decided to [form] a group, to keep the same formula but [with the both of us] together.”

The formula? Think N.E.R.D., Slick Rick, and EMPD. A slow, deliberate flow, chopped and screwed hooks, and simple drum patterns. The Cool Kids exude the machismo swagger typical of hip-hop lyrics with a tongue in cheek goofiness and decidedly non-bling references (i.e. Sega Genesis, bike kickstands, pagers).

With their arms flung over their chests in true “yes, yes y'all” fashion, sporting thick gold ropes and Spike Lee circa “She's Gotta Have It” glasses, Mikey and Inglish may have one foot planted in the '80s and early '90s, but don't call them a throwback group. Or worse yet, hipster hop.

“We're not a throwback at all,” Inglish says. “A lot of people are drawing that up, like, 'Hey, these kids got gold ropes on and they have 808 kicks.' [That's] just us being us.”

As for hipster hop, it's “kinda of an attempt to try to figure out how to categorize what we're doing,” Inglish continues. Mikey agrees, saying that the term hipster has “whack connotations.” “It's always the next new thing that never actually comes to fruition...and then its gone and [hipsters] go off to the next new thing.”

The Cool Kids are definitely the next new thing, but they won't be going anywhere anytime soon. With a new CD coming out (“It's not a mixtape, and it's not an album, so we're gonna call it a CD with a whole bunch of shit on it you can listen to,” Mikey laughs. “The first rap album with no guest features,” Inglish chimes in), gigs across the country, and a buzz growing by the day, the Cool Kids prove hip-hop isn't dead. It was just taking a blinged out nap.

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