Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Kidz In the Hall

Occasion

(Duck Down Music; US: 21 Nov 2011; UK: 19 Dec 2011)

Fight for your right to parrrr-tay

“I’m interested in these three: clothes, hoes and linquor!” declares an early rhyme in “Crash Dummy”, a standout track on Occasion, the lastest full length from LA hip-hop duo Kidz In the Hall. As manifestos go, this one is admittedly modest, but it has the advantage of being entirely accurate: pretty much all the tunes on focus on one or the other of these topics or, most often, some combination of the three. If you enjoy hearing young men discuss “clothes, hoes and liquor” at length and in detail, to the accompaniment of varying sonic backdrops, this is the record for you.


In case the above doesn’t make it plain enough: this is a party album. There’s not much grit here, and little-to-nothing in terms of gangsta tales or social commentary a la the Coup or Talib Kweli (or even Ice-T). Rapper Naledge and producer Double-O aren’t here to comment on current events or social injustice or the best way to jack someone’s car. They’re here to party your blues away, to talk about broads, booze, bitches and—most of all—themselves. Drink up! The album title, in this case, is entirely apt.


Too bad, then, that the song “Occasion” is so awful, with a tacky Vocoder hook that sounds cheesy even by today’s admittedly low standards. In fact, many of the tunes here sound like rote exercises ticked off from some master list of pop-rap standards. “She’s Smokin” is the requisite R&B-influenced romantic song, while “Player of Century” (don’t you mean the century, guys?) introduces the novel idea that these young men are sexually attractive to large numbers of women. “Won’t Remember Tonight” is your basic party anthem trading on the idea that intoxication is a desirable and entertaining state of mind. “Break It Down” offers a bit of scratchy electric guitar upderpinning the verses, but its sonic liveliness is undemined by verbal predictability. To wit: clothes, hos and liquor!


That’s this record in a nutshell. The slick production buffs these songs to a brilliant, poppy sheen, and there is enough variation in the background to keep things from getting entirely boring, but much more care is evident in the backing tracks than in many of the lyrics. The standout tune here is “Crash Dummy”, which marries snappy rhymes with jittery guitar/synth textures. Unfortunately, no other song comes close, although “Won’t Remember Tonight” is entertaining enough with its unexpected horn accents and what-the-hell audacity.


Plenty of guest artists appear in the proceedings, including Killa Kyleon, who spices up “Crash Dummy”, and Esthero, whose sultry vocals add a different flavor to “That Good”, another track that aspires to soulful transcendence but suffers from an apparent lack of interest from all involved. Freddie Gibbs shows up on “Player of Century”, Tabi Booney and One Chance appear on the I’ve-heard-this-a-hundred-times-before “Star” and so forth.


The album closes relatively strongly: the driving urgency of “Friends” and the bouncy, feel-good rhythms of “Walk On Air” both dispense with the guest artists and bring the core duo back to basics. The fourteenth, hidden track is a continuation of this, and closes out the album nicely. It’s too little too late, though, as Kidz In the Hall have long since stated their manifesto, and (yawn) lived up to it.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


Media
Kidz In the Hall - Occasion
Related Articles
25 Jun 2008
Sophomore album from Ivy League-educated duo improves upon the promise they showed on their first album.
17 Dec 2006
A nice piece of unassuming true school hip-hop.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.