Kidz In The Hall: Back To The Summer

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Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Drivin' Down the Block"
  • Artist: Kidz in the Hall
  • CD: The In Crowd
  • Genre: Hip-Hop
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Kidz in the Hall's "Drivin' Down the Block" is a sunny anthem where style overwhelms substance, in grand hip-hop tradition. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

The rap duo Kidz in the Hall is sort of like the Vampire Weekend of contemporary hip-hop: Its members met while attending an Ivy League university — prominently reflected in their stage getup — and they owe much of their success to the file-sharing footsoldiers of the music blogosphere. Also like the New York rock group, they've scored buzz among the drainpipe-jeans crowd, complete with the unfortunate label "hipster rap" and the requisite backlash sure to follow. Thankfully, Kidz in the Hall's members don't much seem to care, and for that, this past summer's soundtrack was much enriched.

In "Drivin' Down the Block," Naledge (the MC) and Double-O (the DJ and producer) have created a sunny anthem where style overwhelms substance, in grand hip-hop tradition. The song has been public since January or so, and as winter returns, it's nice to look back on its ode to a quintessential warm-weather activity: cruising, among other forms of bragging sport. In their quest for the good life, they play loud music, proclaim their commodity fetishism, procure various intoxicants and pursue women without effort: "Wifey feelin' intimate / Park up at the lake and turn the car into the Sybaris."

The duo also throws in a handful of references engineered to make the informed listener feel smart: the sample of Masta Ace's minor hit "Born to Roll," the interpolation of the hook to OutKast's "Elevators (Me and You)," numerous allusions to A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory. Considering that these guys were probably in actual grade-school halls when some of those works emerged, it makes Naledge's claim to be "so hip-hop" sound a touch calculated. But any real or imagined inauthenticity is dwarfed by his evident respect for hip-hop history — and, more to the point, the fun he seems to be having. Naledge spits with the swagger necessary to pull off his strut, and Double-O sets him up with a radio-friendly beat, an amalgam of swirling synths, deliberately dated 808 drum sounds and any number of sonic ornaments. With the niceties of summer long past, it's still nice to revel in the sheer pleasure of innocently glorious ostentation.

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