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Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel as School Children (Cover Artwork)

Gym Class Heroes

Gym Class Heroes: As Cruel as School ChildrenAs Cruel as School Children (2006)
Decaydance

Reviewer Rating: 1.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: EyesLikeBombsEyesLikeBombs
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Gym Class Heroes' greatest strength, their fence straddling of genres, often doubles as their greatest weakness. Rap heads can't stand them and punk kids tend to not give them a chance. As a fan of live instrumentation in rap music and the "hip-hop band" mentality, I was very careful not to pigeonho.
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Gym Class Heroes' greatest strength, their fence straddling of genres, often doubles as their greatest weakness. Rap heads can't stand them and punk kids tend to not give them a chance. As a fan of live instrumentation in rap music and the "hip-hop band" mentality, I was very careful not to pigeonhole them, as easy at it would be considering their record label and cohorts. Unfortunately, their latest album, As Cruel as School Children, reveals just how deserving of their in-betweener reputation they are, both in terms of their genre and their abilities as songwriters.

The album starts off on a somber note with "1st Period: The Queen and I," a song about an alcoholic girlfriend/acquaintance and the lead singer's reluctance to help her. It's an interesting choice to start the album as its verses are austere instrumentally, but it does show off lead singer/rapper Travis McCoy's ability to change flows on a dime. It doesn't exactly "get the party started." While there is no utter trainwreck of a song on this album like "Taxi Driver" from their previous album, there is plenty of cringe-worthy material to be found. The most unfortunate of these is probably "3rd Period: New Friend Request," a MySpace themed song about a girl who the lead singer courts over MySpace. Now, while the idea of this song is ridiculous in itself, Travis doesn't let that stop him from saying some especially lame things. "You said you weren't impressed by lame dudes with no game / They're all the same trying to get your instant messaging name." This is the stuff of eighth graders. But the worst part of this song is the fact that it has a beat that is absolutely contagious and it shows an incredible amount of promise with a catchy chorus that you'll hate yourself for humming all day. The juxtaposition of the terrible and, at times, corny lyrical content against the rest of the song is downright depressing. The best we can hope for is that MTV doesn't find out about this song. The lyrics also turn "4th Period: Clothes Off," a very clever reworking of Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off," into a standard ditty about macking on girls. It sounds like Atmosphere doing their best Ludacris impression, if for some reason you're into that sort of thing.

Like almost all of their "Hipster Hop" predecessors, Gym Class Heroes are at their best when they come off as honest and sincere. "Sloppy Love Jingle Scene 1-3", three a capella songs, that I suppose are pseudo-freestyles, showcase this well. He rambles out lines with very little care for rhyme meter like "That's when she made an offer that I couldn't refuse / And chills went up my legs like Samoan tattoos." The Ghostface Killah-style train of thought nature of these songs makes it much easier to excuse any lyrical missteps, unlike in the rest of the overproduced tracks on the album. The sing-song vibe of "6th Period: Viva La White Girl" does a bit of shameless Warren G aping, but is very passable as the closest thing to an emo slowjam you're likely to hear for awhile. As ballyhooed as Travis' rapping ability is, it's surprising that some of the best moments on this album comes when he does a bit of "I'm not really a singer" singing.

We'll do whatever you want to.
Girl I'll make a movie star of you.
You know that I could,
If you let me be your Hollywood.
We'll get high, and hide.
We are lovers to the glamorous,
white girl so fine.
Going up on the downtown line.
Travis McCoy's lush glamorization of drug usage conveys his message of debauchery perfectly. A 15-year-old in tight pants is planning on using this song to get into his girlfriend's pants as we speak.

This is an album that sounds like it that desperately wants to be taken seriously by the hip-hop underground as well as the emo crowd, but spends too much time pandering to their current fans. And while there's nothing wrong with playing music for your fans, the output's quality in this case just isn't high enough to garner respect from sophisticated listeners. All the style in the world can't make up for the lack of substance and progression in this album. I expect that as the band matures and drops the lame guest appearances (Patrick Stump and William Beckett of Fall Out Boy and the Academy Is..., respectively, both appear on the album), we could get a stellar album out of these guys. Until then, we're left with another mess of an album that doesn't show much but potential.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Audreyscape (July 29, 2011)

Hey this is Audrey with Kia,
TUNE-IN
Re-air! Gym Class Heroes performance from Oceanport, NJ
Monday, August 1st, 2011
5PM EST / 2PM PST
http://on.fb.me/kiawarped

Audreyscape (July 19, 2011)

Check out an exclusive LIVE acoustic-set performance featuring multi-platinum recording artist Gym Class Heroes, Sunday, July 24th at 12:30PM PST / 3:30PM EST. â??Like usâ? at http://on.fb.me/kiawarped & click on the â??Kia Warpedâ? tab for your all-access pass to watch the show!

Jesse (September 9, 2006)

Yep. Heiruspecs are the premier live hip-hop band around.

Anonymous (September 7, 2006)

"listen to heiruspecs instead"

Seconded.

Kursk (September 7, 2006)

I thought "Taxi Driver" off their first album was a good song with clever lyrics so I bought the album and I ended up liking one other song I think. Thus, I don't expect too much from this album.

FatTony (September 7, 2006)

This album's fun and good for the summer.

Some of you need to lighten the fuck up.

Though Patrick Stump's voice is really fucking awful and ruins what could have been a great parody in "Clothes Off."

blake88 (September 7, 2006)

i love how rappers hate this band almost as much as kfed

Anonymous (September 7, 2006)

And when i say Prince Paul I mean the album, A Prince Among Thieves.

Score is for it.

-blade

Anonymous (September 7, 2006)

I agree. Talib Kweli ain't great.

Though I do like Black Star. Go figure.

As far as Hip Hop goes, Dr. Octagon, Edan, Gang Starr and Prince Paul are my faves.

This, this is bad.

-blade runner

danperrone (September 7, 2006)

i think i'm the only one who doesn't go apeshit over talib kweli

i dunno, i just think there's better out there

Anonymous (September 6, 2006)

GYM CLASS HEROES DO NOT CARE ABOUT HIP HOP!

to quote the mighty Kayne west!!

Snakes (September 6, 2006)

take it easy with that n-bomb man, somebody's gonna wind up getting shot

Anonymous (September 6, 2006)

this band has 2 niggers.dont take them seriously

Anonymous (September 6, 2006)

yea thats it! the blueprint is probably my favorite rap/hip hop cd ever, although jurassic 5-quality control and talib kweli-quality are right up there. and kanye. not these guys.

Paul

Anchors (September 6, 2006)

That Jay-Z line in question was from 'The Takeover;'

"Yeah I sampled ya voice, you was using it wrong
You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song"

Anonymous (September 6, 2006)

great review...they have lots of potential, but need to drop the 'we're in the emo pop scene, we're freiends with falloutboy, most of our fans are in highschool' mentality and ethos (pathos? whats the word im looking for?) they put forward in so many of these songs. travis has a ton of skill and potential and the back beats and music are great as well. like that Jay Z song...something about 'you was ;using it wrong' hes using his skill the wrong way, talking about highschool and myspace. it almost immediately eliminates any fan base they could have over the age of 18 or 19. I'm 26 and love the sloppy love jingles and the queen and I but the immature shit just turns me off to the album as a whole. if i was still in highschool i'd probably be eating this shit up. its like the reel big fish of its day.

yea, this and hellogoodbye are the buck o nine and reel big fish of today...they have their merits but they will soon be consumed and spit out by the mainstream back into the underground and will most likely fade into obscurity within 5 years.

Paul

sxenester (September 6, 2006)

Oh! I'm ready for it, come on bring it!

kirbypuckett (September 6, 2006)

This band is a joke.

Go listen to some Talib Kweli or something.

- Kirby

MikeStupid (September 6, 2006)

Awesome review, told me everything I needed to know.

Anchors (September 5, 2006)

Honestly, I thought this was very well written.

EyesLikeBombs (September 5, 2006)

This is my first review.

Comments/suggestions/bitching?

inagreendase (September 5, 2006)

I thought this band couldn't get more obnoxious than "Cupid's Chokehold," but "Clothes Off!" proved me sorely, sorely wrong. I know everyone hates those bands normally, but christ, their vocalists are annoying as hell out of context.

Anonymous (September 5, 2006)

Gym class heroes = College dork posers.

Anchors (September 5, 2006)

Their first EP was awesome, everything since -- terrible.

Anonymous (September 5, 2006)

i cant stop listenin to this album..
its really good..and i really cant listen to hip hop..only moderately and very rarely..but these guys are really good..
we didnt listen to the same cd i guess..mine was very funny to listen to..

maverick (September 5, 2006)

1. Heiruspecs are great. Everyone should listen to them.

2. This record's fun for what it is -- rap geared towards emo kids. Just like how "gangsta rap" is rap geared towards upper-class suburban white kids in puffy coats. All of it is putting on a show to make the listener be able to dance while feeling the lyrics, whether they're about MySpace or shooting someone.

-Scott

swank (September 5, 2006)

oh yeah, and I'm with WEZ; don't even try to front on Atmosphere.

"You can't imagine how much fun we're having" was one of the best albums of last year.

swank (September 5, 2006)

I think you took this album too seriously.
"New Friend Request" is clearly suppose to be a joke, so to say the lyrics are immature is kind of missing the point. Same goes for the so-called "Train Wreck" on their last album "Taxi Driver". The first time I heard either song I was smiling and nodding my head, and I think thats the idea. Nothing too serious.

Anonymous (September 5, 2006)

listen to heiruspecs instead

MikeStupid (September 5, 2006)

Lame.

asxyouxwish (September 5, 2006)

worst.

Luzzew (September 5, 2006)

"I think that these guys as well as P.O.S. really succeed where Atmosphere comes off as a poseur."

That's a joke, right? Atmosphere has been around a lot longer than the one album you heard because it was on Epitaph. He's actually got some hip hop cred, where as Gym Class Heroes have none, and will never have any. Get your shit straight.

WEZ

Anonymous (September 5, 2006)

I have only heard one song on this record and it was really good. However, I really enjoyed The Papercut Chronicles. I think that these guys as well as P.O.S. really succeed where Atmosphere comes off as a poseur. Their lyrics really seem honest, rather than stating how awesome they are.

Anonymous (September 5, 2006)

i thought this album was a huge step forward from the first album, and even though i didn't think it was the best thing i had heard all summer i couldn't stop listening to it for like a month.

the only bad thing is the 3 part song which totally disrupts the flow of the record. they could have probably stuck those together at the end of the album and they wouldn't have stuck out as bad

danperrone (September 5, 2006)

this shit is the fucking plague

go get the new oh no album

crazytoledo (September 5, 2006)

I have a hatred of 99.9% rap and hip hop. But I like this stuff a lot. And those lyrics aren't bad at all. Actually, they're pretty good and entertaining if you don't take them too seriously. And if you've read the band members opinion on the album, they've pretty much called it a 'summer album' and that's what is. Nothing too serious, but still provides the thrills.

Mute98 (September 5, 2006)

these guys are horrible in terms of hiphop

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