A few nights ago I was invited to The Blender, a nondescript Chicago studio, to preview The Cool Kids OFFICIAL debut album (The Bake Sale was only an EP), When Fish Ride Bicycles. The entire album, which is not 100% complete, was recorded at The Blender, so listening to this album on their home turf in their natural habitat added to my listening experience.
Over the past month, whenever I’ve talked to Chuck Inglish, he’s been gassing me up about how dope this album is: “It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before! Think The Chronic! Think Aquemini!” And to tell you the truth, I wasn’t that skeptical because I’ve never known him to talk shit like that. I knew this had to be something big, so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to their latest, albeit unfinished, opus.
Chuck produced the album in its entirety, and he and Mikey Rocks handle all of the vocals, with the exception of one outside guest, Bun B. Check out my preliminary thoughts on When Fish Ride Bicycles below…
Intro to Ice Fishing
One thing I will immediately commend Chuck and Mikey on is their choice of song titles. They’re definitely a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of redundant ass titles that have plagued hip hop albums over the past decade. The intro is fresh and is the perfect way to kick off the album. I can best describe this as mood music because throughout the album, the songs set different moods that somehow connect to the titles. Make sense?
Gas Station feat. Bun B
“Gas Station” was the first track they played for me en route to the studio, and I can only describe it as some ‘intoxicated rider music’. It was the perfect soundtrack as we cruised through downtown Chicago just before midnight with the skyline in the background, while a light drizzle crept down from the sky. Chuck’s bass-heavy beat meshes perfectly with Bun’s ability to flow effortlessly over the track while Chuck and Mike’s verses blend seamlessly to close it out. I got to hear it again later in the evening, and it was even better the second time. I hate to make a preliminary call, but I think that was my favorite track on the album. Chuck and Mike’s story of their recent trip down to Houston to kick it with Mayor Bun brought even more meaning to the song. I can only imagine what this will sound like when it’s chopped and screwed.
When the beat kicked in on “Cinnamon”, it reminded me of Groove Theory’s “Tell Me” or something from the Uptown Records era in the vain of Guy, Father MC or Mary J. Blige. However, it had that Cool Kids stamp on it, giving it a 2009 vibe. Mikey snaps extra hard on this one, and I have to give it to Chuck, his instrumentation and groove has grown exponentially since The Bake Sale.
“Hammer Brothers” is not only an alias influenced by the hammer-throwing Turtle goons from Mario Brothers, it’s also slated to be the official first single from the album. Mikey does a lot of the heavy lifting vocally, while Chuck murks the outro with some live bongos. A lot of the album cuts have extended outros (word to Pete Rock!), which is missed in today’s world of “hurry up and drop” hip hop.
Exactly what you think a song titled “Popcorn” would sound like, but not in a New Edition “Popcorn Love” sort of way, but as in a ‘you can’t stop snapping your neck’ sort of way. Both Mikey and Chuck have progressed a lot on the mic, with Mikey really dropping some witty lines here.
Another knocker. It sounds like Chuck is channeling another producer from the Motor City, the late-great J. Dilla, on this one. So far I’ve been really impressed with how cohesive the album is sounding. When you hear the LP in its entirety, you’ll never get it confused with anything from another Cool Kids album (or time in their career). This is some next level material.
The warm up single. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this one by now.
This leans a little bit on the electronic side of things, but it also gives me a Talking Heads kind of vibe. Definitely one you’ll hear in the clubs.
We’re So Neat
This features The Cool Kids songbird protégé, Tenille, on the hook. This is some space age boom bap. And don’t confuse ‘neat’ with this track sounding clean, this is one of the dirtier sounding tracks on the LP.
Speaking of dirty, you can actually hear the static and the cracks in this one. Well done, Chuck…this is what I’ve been waiting for. I get a mid-90s Michigan hip hop vibe on here; think Dayton Family, Top Authority or MC Breed.
This sounds like an epic club track from some kind of blockbuster movie. The hook is hilarious, and yes, it actually features cowbell. This one will definitely burn up the clubs, and the hook is seriously contagious.
In My System
I think these guys hopped in a DeLorean and went back to 1995 to snatch up Celly Cel. Seriously. This reminds me of the high quality Bay Area “Mobb Music” that was coming out around that time. Word to Sick Wid It.
Oh shit, I know I just didn’t hear a Company Flow “8 Steps To Perfection” sample?? I did. This is right up my alley. Sounds like El P x The Cool Kids x A television theme song from the 60’s. I know that makes no sense to you now, but you’ll understand once you hear it. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
I’m on a sailboat in full sailor gear, high on cocaine, in the 80s, with “Erotic City” playing in the background. I’m pretty sure that’s what this sounds like.
Before I listened to the album various members of the Cool Kids camp told me this album sounded like the last day of school before your senior year of high school. It was a beautiful day outside, your car was clean and working, and the girl you’d been trying to smash all year told you to come over because here parents weren’t home. Then later that night you went the best party of the year. Yep, I got that vibe from this song. It’s easily my second favorite track on the album.
In Closing: Now, I don’t want to gas you guys up too much (like Chuck gassed me), but in my humble opinion, The Cool Kids have an absolute classic on their hands. I know a lot of doubters, skeptics and comment section haters will have my head for this, but When Fish Ride Bicycles is honestly some of the best work I’ve heard in years. The lyrics are on point and the production is so different than anything we’ve heard in a while. I told these guys, in all honesty, a lot of people are going to bite their style and sound after this one (think The Neptunes circa 2000-2001), so I’ll leave it at that until the general public is able to hear it. I think they’re really going to surprise people and silence their doubters in 2009.
The guys also played me new music they’ve recorded with Drake (“November 18th Remix”), Kid Cudi and Asher Roth, but we can save that for another post.