New York City helps the Kids puts the ‘cool’ in ‘school’. S.O.B.’s, New York (April 6 )
Downtown Manhattan is sacred turf in the history of hip-hop. It was in these streets that the Bronx’s nascent B-boys first started to mix with the white rock crowd back at the start of the ’80s, dragging what was then a largely unknown genre out of the ghetto and starting its steady ascent into the mainstre am. Almost 30 years on, that cross-pollination is happening again tonight thanks to The Cool Kids, who’ve brought their indie-kid friendly sound to NYC. And the Chicago outfit’s unapologetically old-school spirit is as entertaining as it is authentic. It only takes a glance at Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks’ chains, trainers and baseball caps to see that they probably say a prayer for Jam Master Jay before bedtime and sleep with the Def Jam Records’ back catalogue under their pillows every night. If that wasn’t enough evidence, then watching them pace up and down the stage like amphetamine-addled ramblers and brag about being the black version of the Beastie Boys should clinch it.
They’ve got style in spades, that’s for sure, but when it comes to those all-important beats, The Cool Kids are careful to ensure that their love for all things retro doesn’t make them into an outfit exclusively for ageing hip-hop nostalgists. Their rock/rap fusion of ’88 is just as close to NERD as it is to Run-DMC, and while ‘Gold And A Pager’ roots itself spiritually in NWA’s epochal gangsta-rap classic ‘Fuck Tha’ Police’, it’s also smooth and sexy enough to pass for a modern-day Timbaland production. Plus, the pair complement each other as rappers in a way that suggests theirs was either a match made in heaven or one forged painstakingly through 14 hours of practice a day for the two years they’ve been together.
So the tunes are in place too, but wanna know the best thing about The Cool Kids? They’re FUN. Plain and simple. In-between songs, they crack jokes, tell funny stories, do impressions of Quagmire from Family Guy and even have goofy dance-offs to ensure the party keeps going and that has just as much to do with their cross-genre appeal as anything else. It’s taken just a couple of singles, a solitary EP and a fuck-load of internet hype to bring Chuck and Mikey this far, but it’s their ability to give everybody a good time which will take them much further. ‘Cool’ doesn’t even come close.