The Cool Kids
The phrase "It's all good" has never been less true when it comes to hip-hop. The genre's mainstream branch is mighty uninteresting these days, with superstars regularly coming up short and intriguing new artists getting bypassed in favor of lowest-common-denominator one-shots — or am I premature in assuming that Meech probably won't come up with dozens of fascinating followups to "Thicka Than a Snicka"? No wonder Cool Kids Chuck and Mikey, a tandem featured on Rolling Stone's 2008 Artists to Watch roster, are trying to move ahead by looking back. "Black Mags," a BMX-bike tribute, and the Rakim-sampling "Pump Up the Volume" employ spare electro beats straight outta the Reagan era, while "88" references, of all things, Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance." Sure, the style is far from original. But in the end, the Cool Kids, joined at Vinyl by Life Crew, are so retro that they actually sound kind of fresh — at least by contemporary rap standards.