Artist: The Cool Kids
Album: When Fish Ride Bicycles
Label: Green Label Sound
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Although peddlers of a different sort, it was undeniable the allure Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks had back in 2007 with their biker anthem “Black Mags.” Needless to say, it’s been a hyperbolic time chamber minute (for those who still remember the anime DBZ) since the release of their Bake Sale EP. With numerous album delays and warmly received mixtapes, it seemed as if When Fish Ride Bicycles would end up being the subterranean version of Dr Dre’s Detox. Nevertheless, The Cool Kids resiliently pushed their way through the cracks, scored a record deal with Mountain Dew’s label Green Label Sound, and have finally released their much anticipated debut.
After waiting four years, many have probably wondered anxiously on how much The Cool Kids digressed, and to be frank, When Fish Rides Bicycles is no Bake Sales. In fact, their lead single “Bundles” is probably the closest you’ll get to the Bake Sales EP. While this may be disappointing to some, Mike and Chuck have musically growth spurted and their debut is proof of their maturity. Indeed, while most rappers would’ve used their setbacks as an opportunity to air out label reps and b*tch about their problems, the rap duo decided to kick misery to the curb and invite better guests. And while there’s certainly a multitude of guests scattered throughout, this is far from a compilation album as Rocks and Inglish are careful not to sound like cameos on their own album.
In addition, the chemistry The Cool Kids have with each cameo is undeniable which is evident on album cuts “Swim Suits” and “Sour Apple.” On “Sour Apple,” Inglish and Travis Barker pair up to create an exuberant and live, party tinged instrumentation. Using granny smith apples as a clever analogy for haughty females, Inglish spits with monopolizing humor (literally) with lyrics like, “she wants me to beg, but I beg your pardon, un-park place your marvin gardens.” The radio ready track “Swim Suits,” featuring Mayer Hawthorne, is a funky head banging groove that has a Roger Troutman feel to it. However, if there’s any collabos worth mentioning it would be “Gas Station” which features Houston legend Bun B. Thick with rubbery bass and smooth drum kicks, “Gas Station” feels like an album B side to Kanye’s “Drive Slow.” After B gets the song rolling with a trilla-fied verse, Rocks and Inglish take turns riding shot gun over the nostalgic instrumental. “Penny Hardaway,” which sounds like a disposable NBA 2K track at first, inevitably manages to grow on you. Ghostface Killah’s involvement is an added bonus as well.
Also deserving of honorable mention is the indie conglomerate cut “Roll Call” which features Asher Roth, Chip the Ripper and Boldy James. Rapping over an underlying organ melody and soft drum patterns, The Cool Kids show that they can contend with the biggest legal tenders on the indie scene. Asher Roth, however, stick outs as one of the brightest luminaries as he gives a showing stealing verse as a lyrical professor with lyrics like, “ kids take a seat, it’s time to meet teach, Mike Rocks econom’s/ while I be on physics/ J.P. engineers while Chuck in-structs English (Inglish)/ we up in this/ don’t think for one minute/ don’t play dumb you dunce/ you come sit front center/ and pay attention to the lessons of professor/ speaking to our generation/ now or never.”
The album isn’t without its mishaps, however. After hearing Inglish’s bass heavy, trunk rattling beats, the Pharrell produced cut “Summer Jam” just sounds awkward. In addition, “GMC” sounds like stale crumbs from the Bake Sale EP. Although lyrically Rocks and Inglish are up to par, the monotonous drum pattern will definitely have listeners snoozing in no time. Overall, however, these harmless shortcomings do not take away from the entire album, and considering the length of time it took for their debut to come out, these offerings definitely deserve a fan’s pardon.
Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish might’ve taken a bicycle ride through hell and back, but it was definitely worth it. The two have certainly outgrown the “hipster” stereotype, and prove once again that they’re still ahead of the competition. Although their buzz may not be at “Black Mags” levels, Mike Rocks and Inglish don’t show any signs of pumping the breaks anytime soon. The prospect for these two Hip Hop revivalists looks exceedingly bright, and while it may take the world a few seconds to remember the retro-futurists, The Cool Kids will no doubt continue bike peddling backwards towards the future.
Let’s face it – judging an album on a scale of 1 to 5 mics just won’t cut it — that’s more of a magazine thing. After constant office arguments regarding album ratings, we’ve decided to revise our album review process and fairly judge an artist’s work across multiple avenues. At iHipHop.com, we believe every album deserves an impartial review, taking into account both music and cultural relevance.