Cool Kids headline scaled-down PB show at Alumni Hall
By Sarah Frostenson
Published on Thursday, November 29, 2007
Pump up the volume with a heavy base line, a wicked turntable, some old school hip-hop and you've got The Cool Kids -- a retro-rap duo hailing from the Chicago underground music scene. Full of energy, The Cool Kids are a blast from the past with their beat boxing, turn-tabling, syncopated rhythms and smooth vocals. Harkening back to the '80s music scene when hip hop was about having a good time, The Cool Kids rocked the world of fashion with their Nike high tops, fluorescent clothes and too cool for school shades.
Having established a fairly solid online fanbase, which allowed them to begin touring across the nation and spreading their funkadelic, hiptastic sound, The Cool Kids still remain relatively unknown within the realm of mainstream music. Going into the show, I didn't really know what to expect. And from the looks of it, I wasn't the only one, as everyone stood (quite awkwardly) milling about waiting for the show to begin. But it wasn't long before Alumni Hall in the Hopkins Center was rocking, filled with dance-busting, finals-procastinating, Dartmouth students.
What began as a poorly-attended concert with an arms-crossed, skeptical audience, transformed into a slightly fuller (though still relatively sparsely attended) crowd intent on letting loose with hands in the air and booties shaking. It might have been the Wednesday night mentality.
Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks, the masterminds behind The Cool Kids, met a little over two years ago through the popular online community MySpace, first laying tracks for other artists, before deciding to strike it out on their own.
They've yet to record an album, but are already earning well-deserved praise for their fresh sound, drawing comparisons to old school hipsters such as EPMD and Boogie Down Productions.
With a funky throwback to the '80s, the aptly named ditty, "88," is fun and carefree with crazy, nonsensical lyrics -- "Do the smurf, Do the Wop, Baseball bat." While The Cool Kids are unquestionably influenced by elements of old school hip-hop, they aren't stuck in a time warp.
The Cool Kids are more interested in dropping beats and recording what they like than maintaining an image or being confined to a set musical genre. First earning recognition for their hit single "Black Mags," a clever rap that compares bikes to decked out cars, The Cool Kids maintain a laid back attitude and friendly demeanor that invites crowd participation. Incorporating elements of rock and modern day rap, along with reviving old school joints of hip-hop, The Cool Kids have managed to produce an eclectic style that holds appeal for various genres of music lovers -- indie, hip-hop, electro, techno, rap or really anyone who likes to dance. And let's face it, "If your friends don't dance, then they ain't no friends of mine."
From the very beginning the funk was brought by Dartmouth's own Young Ivy and JBall, complete with washboard abs, low-slung jeans and four-letter expletives. Young Ivy got the crowd going from the "ground up" with his thumping beat and energetic free styling lyrical skills. With finals looming over the heads of Dartmouth students, he provided the perfect study break with his high energy and commanding stage presence, even taking his shirt off at one point, dancing in the crowd, trying to help everyone loosen up and kick the "ass glue syndrome" in the rear.
Outrageous and even at times egregious, Young Ivy touched on everything from having to cram for finals because "You should have studied but you were out playing beer pong" to crazy dance parties with girls who have "turkey in the back and are wide at the hips." Young Ivy -- irreverent, cocky, and an overall crowd pleaser -- hammed it up both on and off the stage, eating up the spotlight with his thrusting hips and calls for crowd interaction. He definitely took a lukewarm crowd from the awkward sober, wallflower stage to the hi-fi, ready-to-rage spirit appropriate for a concert.
But the true star of the evening was an unexpected mystery guest, Captain Cyborg, the hip-hop loving robot who donned a hybrid space man/tin man suit for the show. The Dartmouth student/robot was a hit, stealing the stage with his futuristic moves. For a few hours, at least, before having to jet off to study for finals.