The Cool Kids
The Bake Sale
The Cool Kids first legitimate recording, The Bake Sale, feels like the closing of a first chapter. Most of its tracks have circulated around the Internet for several months, catapulting the previously unknown Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish onto a support slot for M.I.A.â€™s U.S. tour last fall and into the pages of several magazines, most notably the cover of URB. When heard via MySpace, spun piecemeal on an iTunes player, an iPod or in a cloistered nightclub, these songs sound like modest little wonders fattened with booming bass and snappy hooks. But when gathered together into the duoâ€™s first real artistic statement, their strengths and weaknesses come into view.
Thatâ€™s not to say that The Bake Sale doesnâ€™t bang. Songs such as â€œOne, Two,â€ where Mikey Rocks percussively loops a girl lolling â€œda da da da,â€ and the fat bass bottom underneath â€œBlack Mags,â€ sound wondrously blank and minimalist. Even if Mikey Rocks tends to borrow bass styles from other regions for his Chicago coolness â€“ particularly the old-school booty bass codes of deep South towns like Miami and Atlanta and the pre-rugged noise of mid-80s golden age New York â€“ he mixes his influences into a distinct new vision: the freewheeling hipster consumerism of â€œGold and a Pagerâ€ and â€œA Little Bit Cooler.â€
â€œSo Iâ€™m sitting on the couch/Holding the remote/Flipping channels/Iâ€™m a rebel/Eating a bowl of them Fruity Pebbles/Fruity Pebbles/Fruity Pebbles/How gangsta is that?â€ raps Chuck Inglish. Confirming his unconsciously middle-class ambitions, he adds on â€œ88,â€ â€œIâ€™m doing what I do like I do it for TV/I guess what Iâ€™m doing Iâ€™m doing to keep these/Shoes on my feet, sweeter than sweet peas.â€
The Cool Kids relatively blithe approach to regionalism and class issues is what makes The Bake Sale â€“ and the Chicago hipster scene from which they emerged â€“ so interesting, if only because itâ€™s been several years that a mainstream hip-hop group has been unafraid to skirt these topics. Itâ€™s refreshing, even if the choruses pale in comparison to the dope beats, and Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish tend to meander during their rap verses. They aspire to old-school glory, but donâ€™t have the killer lines and succinctly fly rhymes that typified Schoolly D and Biz Markieâ€™s classics. Instead, the Cool Kids are learning to make a new kind of classic edition, one both informed and unencumbered by the past.