The Cool Kids, 'The Bake Sale EP' (Chocolate Industries)

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The Bake Sale EP
Critical Mass
Label: Chocolate Industries

by Mosi Reeves

For the past year, goodnatured, colorfully clad Windy City partners Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish have been the equivalent of a meme, posting songs and videos on MySpace to stoke buzz and media hype. Now collecting ten new and well-circulated tunes (like party-starters "Black Mags," "88," and "Gold and a Pager"), the Cool Kids convincingly argue that their talent runs deeper than fleeting Internet notoriety.

The most remarkable thing about The Bake Sale EP is its starkness. Not quite Bay Area hyphy or Southern swag, Chuck's beats evoke '80s-era classics like Boogie Down Productions' Criminal Minded and Ice-T's Rhyme Pays. He'san inventive producer, turning vocal percussion and a handful of bass notes into wonderfully bubbling tracks like "One Two" and "What up Man." Inspired by golden-age hip-hop, the twosome fashion themselves as 21st-century Slick Ricks, urban early adopters on the make. "I shop at boutiques / limited-quantity sneaks / Where do these quantities be? / Maybe they're all on my feet," boasts Mikey.

But for every song with a strong concept, there's another that meanders through so-so rhymes without any memorable phrases or punch lines. Yes, it's true that many '80s rap classics were built on little more than chants of "la-Di-Da-Di." But as fresh as the Cool Kids undoubtedly are, they could use a few more such indelibly simple shout-outs.

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