By Jorel Lonesome
When Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersol announced their duo was splitting up shortly after releasing their hit album “When Fish Ride Bicycles” in July 2011, it seemed as though we might never hear from them again.
But, The Cool Kids are back with their new sophomore album, “Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe.” Released in September 2017, the 16-track LP features artists such as Jeremih, Syd, Smoke DZA as well as collaborations with artists such as Drake, Maroon 5, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker. The album does a great job at sounding both modern and nostalgic. It’s like a classic Cool Kids album but with noticeable artistic progression. In rap music today, it’s increasingly difficult to make an album that sticks for an extended period of time, but The Cool Kids serve their purpose once again.
Many of the tracks were produced entirely by Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, with a plethora of drums, samples, disco tunes, synth, strings, horns, guitars, bass, and more synthetic sounds such as “Westside Connections,” “Get Out the Bowl,” “Checkout,” “Gr8Full,” “Jean Jacket,” and “Too Smooth.”
The first track, “The Moonlanding,” comes in hot with a gust of intensity. This really sets the stage for the production style of the album--energetic beats, futuristic synths, and layered horns. The track features actor/comedian Hannibal Buress, as he begins with a Black Sabbath tribute. “The Moonlanding” shifts into a banger that includes a dynamic horn sample applied by Sir Michael Rocks’ slick fashion talk in the hook that is produced by tag team partner Chuck Inglish. Their lyrics relinquish their most savvy wordplay and also reference “The Purple Tape” and Pokémon.
Arguably one of the coolest tracks is “20/20 Vision,” which features great beat characteristics for Chuck’s production. According to Urban Dictionary “20/20” means “Completely seeing the truth of a situation.” Therefore, we may suggest that the theme of the track is about how The Cool Kids are also The Real Kids. When we delve into tracks such as “TV Dinner,” to name a few, it’s as if your head is inside a hornet’s nest, but with a rhythmic sound of a robotic alarm that blends perfectly with the dominant pounding of drums beating in an even pattern to entice you to bop your head.
“Break Your Legs,” features drummer Travis Barker from blink-182. The song is edgy compared to their smoother sounds. You can definitely compare it to N.E.R.D.’s 2001 smash hit “Lap Dance,” which sets this particular track apart from the others.
“On the Set,” produced by Chuck Inglish perfectly shows the dark and 90s atmosphere beat that both Boldy James (Detroit native and Mass Appeal signee) and Smoke DZA (Harlem underground representative) are known for. Inglish’s distinctive use of vocals and instruments is inventively cognizant. The base is layered on top of the smooth sounding vocals that follow and will make you feel as cool. They create unforgettable funky bass lines and 808 hits that fall in the line of new- and old-school Hip Hop.
Overall, with its creative production, this album lives up to the anticipatory hype of the duo’s cult fans, and will be regarded as a good reference point for future experimental MCs.