There have been many duos to hit the rap scene. Most of these two-man tag teams disappear quicker than they come in with only one hit single and a lackluster album. The legendary rap duos consists of Clipse, 8Ball and MJG, Smif-n-Wesson, Mobb Deep, Dogg Pound, UGK, and Outkast. All of these groups have character and more than one good album under their belts. It is difficult for two personalities to meld into a single entity without one of those individuals standing out over the other. Usually, when one rapper is significantly better than the other, the group is marked for destruction.
Well, enter Kidz in the Hall and The Cool Kids. These groups are more mature than any children that I've heard in recent memory. Both groups are comprised of a well-balanced duo. They are trying to avoid the fate that so many rap duos and rap groups meet day in and day out. Kids in the Hall and The Cool Kids want longevity. They want to be relevant. In this week's Battle of the Year, I have compared their relevance to one another. If the general public only allows one dynamic duo to survive the test of time, then which one of these groups live to see another day?
Kidz in the Hall:
The KitH are not unknown to studio albums considering that they dropped the unknown School was my Hustle (2006). After coming off a very unseen failure, the Kidz in the Hall rebounded with two stellar mixtapes, Detention (2007) and Geniuses Need Love Too (Valentine's Day 2008). These two albums placed Naledge and Double-0 in the forefront of hipster cool rappers. Detention drifted across subject matter with more ease than a Skyline GTR in the hills of Osaka. The boys addressed women issues, parental issues, lessons from school, life, job security, national security, and crafted a dumbed down party single that isn't that dumb. Lyrically, the Kidz in the Hall are giants. Naledge delivers some of the heaviest lyrical stanzas this side of the Mississsippi. Not to count Double-0 out, he brings a swag to his delivery only reminiscent of Ghostface (without the high pitched whine).
According to their mixtapes, the production isn't original, but their subject matter was fresh enough to hook me. There were a few times that they rapped over the beat versus in the beat. But, isn't that what true lyricists do from time to time? (Side note: Producers just need to make better beats for their artists, and artists need to make better beat selection!) After the two mixtapes hit the circuit, the group rallied enough thought-provoking beats to craft another studio album-- The In Crowd. The album didn't move me like the mixtapes did. Maybe, it was that sense of familiarity I had with the mixtapes' production and the freshness that rolls with it when another rapper crafts a better composition from that production work. The album isn't bad by any means, it is far better than many of the rap albums that are chart toppers. Naledge and Double-0 are skilled lyrically, control the microphone well, and can rap over a beat like butter. They are just missing that differentiator that forces the listening public to see their personalities in verse.
The Cool Kids:
Kidz in the Hall:
When I first heard Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish, I was expecting a rollercoaster of difference. It was totally refreshing and exhilirating to hear production that was simply complex and hard hitting. I was actually getting the best of both world with New York's boom-bap and Atlanta's hard bass. It was a marriage only seen in Baltimore House or Chicago house. But, their marriage had slower rpms. I intently listened to Mikey and Chuck spit verse after verse on why they are cool and you are not. Their discography is not reflective of their work as songs go from an EP, Totally Flossed Out, to a mixtape, That's Stupid, to another EP, The Bake Sale. This isn't a bad formula considering these boys are featured all over the place from rappers like Lil' Wayne to DJ Benzi. The production drew me into what they were saying and what they actually said was and is cool. They presented a throwback to a time when rap was a test of wits and fun. Lyrically, they brought wit and swag. Listening to Chuck rap was like watching a sheppard direct his flock. He made the production do what he wanted it to do. Mikey is a spitter. He has the verbal acrobatics to leap from word to word without falling. The Cool Kids actually craft every musical composition for each song. Their music is definitely Hip-Hop.
They bring a balance and commitment to each other like no other group. The Cool Kids support each others verses. It is like the Clipse on some just cool ish to be cool. They compliment one another like Jay-Z and Biggie. They feed off one another. It is like watching Serena and Venus play tennis. The volleys are fierce and you just don't want them to stop. The subject matter isn't brutal and unbelievable. Again, I'll say they are on some cool ish.
They don't even come off as coonish. They rock the 80's wear, but Mikey and Chuck represent Hip-Hop today as it should be versus what it is. They borderline gimmicky.
Download That's Stupid The Mixtape
After listening to both groups, I've decided to run with Kidz In The Hall as the winner. The reason they won was because they reached beyond a gimmick. Not saying the Cool Kids are gimmick rappers, it is just their persona is gimmicky. They are riding the coattails of the 80's craze. What will become of the group once that falls out of style? Are they gonna remain the cool kids or evolve into smooth adults? I appreciate both groups for their contributions to the culture. I love the braggadocio of both groups, but I can relate to the heavy "I'm educated" style of The Kids In The Hall. Time will tell if the Cool Kids will remain cool and the Kidz in the Hall will stay in the halls. I know these two groups are on tour together, so I hope to have a collaboration track called the Cool Kids in the Hall.