The Cool Kids - The Bake Sale (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Cool Kids

The Bake Sale (2008)

C.A.K.E. / Chocolate Industries

I don't listen to a lot of hip-hop and I review even less, but I'm so stoked on the Cool Kids I'm willing to ignore some of their questionable collaborations (Lil Wayne? *groan*) and focus primarily on their latest release, The Bake Sale, for what it is -- unabashedly and outrageously fun, intensely clever and remarkably intelligent -- you know, for party rap.

Just because the beats are minimalistic doesn't mean they can't be fun as hell. Take opener "What Up Man" for example, a song that utilizes samples of bass, ticks and claps in word form. Seriously, instead of real bass, ticks and claps it's just a loop of some dude(s) saying the word in its place, like some sort of literal beatboxing. "One Two" has a backwards beat reminiscent of "Paul Revere" and a slow, methodical rapping style that's strangely soothing, even if it's just some dude rhyming about how awesome he is. "88" sounds like something Rick Rubin would've produced in well, `88. "What It Is" and its industrialized drum beat remind me an awful lot of Paul's Boutique. Lofty comparisons for sure, but my uninformed ass thinks they're warranted. And the band's homage to BMX, "Black Mags" is pretty fun:

White Mag rims, red rubber tires/
Chain, frame, pegs, grips, ship to my supplier/
Dope man attire, gimme 'bout an hour/
And I'll have it clicking, ticking, gliding, flying like McGuyver
Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish aren't the most talented MCs -- and their mid-tempo styles are so similar it's often difficult to tell them apart -- but they do well enough and many of their rhymes are snarky, clever and obscurely referential, if a bit self-indulgent. Not everyone will get the Street Fighter and Men Without Hats references, but it's fun for those who do and probably hardly distracting for those who don't. The beats are the real stars here -- distinctive enough to reel in casual fans but, uh, bumpin' enough that these songs wouldn't sound out of place in a nightclub.

The Bake Sale is officially classified as an EP, but at ten songs and a 32-minute run-time it feels more like a full-length, and a perfectly sized full-length at that. This is a rare record that everyone at the party can enjoy -- even people with jaded, narrow views of hip-hop like me.