Kidz In The Hall - The In Crowd

Posted May 11, 2008

So which side are you on? Are you a hustler or a hip-popper? A club-head or a socially...

The In Crowd Album Review

So which side are you on? Are you a hustler or a hip-popper? A club-head or a socially conscious tree-hugger? Because you have to pick a side. Did you know it’s illegal to own both a Young Jeezy and a Talib Kweli album? And if you dare let both a G-Unit and a Game song pass through your speakers, you’ll be immediately put to death. Because this is hip-hop, and in hip-hop you have to pledge undying allegiance to one style of music, forever – or suffer the consequences.

It sounds ridiculous, but it feels like that’s exactly the point we're at. In fact, the one thing the thugs and the backpackers have in common is their insistence that anyone who doesn’t exclusively listen to their music is a fraud. Well f**k that. On an average day I’ve got both KRS-One and Weezy in the stereo, and I’m not alone. Just take the Kidz In The Hall. The Kidz, comprised of the MC and producer combination of Naledge and Double O, are not only ivy-league graduates who make unpretentious hip-hop, but their sophomore album The In Crowd is built on a composite of influences that defy easy definition. In other words, they’re exactly the type of group the hip-hop Gestapo try to force people to choose sides over.

Kidz In The Hall have come a long way from recording tracks in their towel closet, thanks in large part to their ability to make quality music for the average person – you know, the handful of people out there who aren’t coke dealing billionaires. Buzz for The In Crowd has been rolling on the audio rims of Drivin’ Down The Block, a woofer-busting track that adds some polo rugby flair to the chopped n’screwed blueprint. But while Drivin’ breaks the Kidz out of “hipster-hop” box they’ve been placed in, at times the track sounds exactly like a Pharell-era Clipse track (a comparison that gets driven home on the remix). Great music sounds effortless (though it never is) and on Drivin’ you can almost hear the Kidz pushing for respect. That doesn’t mean the track’s wack, or they’re posers, it just means that if I had to choose, I’d rather listen to Grindin’. But since I don’t have to choose, I’ll just listen to both. Imagine that.

Just four tracks after Drivin’s last crunching bass notes have faded, the Kidz hit us with a Love Hangover, a bouncing track featuring Double O flashing touches of European-club music production as the background for Naledge and Estelle to play the love-sick couple as they flirt between the verses and the chorus. If Drivin’ was the track you play in the parking lot to get the girl, Love Hangover is the track you play once you’ve fallen in love with her. It’s this kind of versatility, the Kidz In The Hall’s ability to oscillate between Drivin and Love Hangover, between the smash mouth banger The Pledge and the soulful Let Your Hair Down, that makes The In Crowd less of an album and more of an announcement – the Kidz In The Hall are here to stay.

Now let’s rewind. I believe every word I wrote about the Kidz’ arrival, but let’s not get carried away – like Naledge already has. In an URB interview the smooth-tongued MC said, “I’m up there with ‘Ye, Common, Lupe. I need to be in the same sentence as them…I came in the game admiring Common and now I’m on his level.” Goddamn! Pump your brakes son. That might be the most delusional claim I’ve heard since Yung Berg compared himself to Jesus. Now Naledge is a dope MC, just listen to his subtly complex lyricism and controlled delivery on Blackout, but there is no way he belongs in the same sentence as those other Chi-Town gods – the same paragraph maybe. The same goes for Double O’s production work; while he displays some supremely confident boardwork that at times approaches 9th Wonder (like on Paper Trail) or Mr. West (like on Inner Me), he still needs more time to claim his own name in the production hierarchy. In the end those shortcomings are good news, because Naledge and Double O are too young and talented for The In Crowd to be the best album of their careers. Tell you what; buy the album and judge for yourself, it’s worth it. Just remember, you’re required to either love or hate this album and your choice will completely define you as a human being. Choose wisely.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted May 11, 2008
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