Rizzle Kicks are one of the few British hip hop acts that are making waves in the charts right now. Their first album depicted the lives of two youthful, fun loving boys, bursting with energy, and peaked at Number Five in the UK album charts. On their second album, Roaring 20s the youthfulness unfortunately becomes tiring, and drifts more towards immaturity.
Lyrically the album is very poor. While it’s clear that they’ve got a lot to say, more often than not it’s not worth the listen. To start with the positives, the lead single ‘‘Lost Generation’’ actually has some really decent messages. There’s an attack on reality TV, labeling girls as sluts, and people becoming a little too obsessed with social media sites, specifically Twitter. They even called in libel lawyers to prevent legal action against them as they name drop both John Terry and Jeremy Kyle. Unfortunately they don’t put their message across very well. Call me old fashioned, but I like rappers who know how to rhyme consistently, actually create a narrative with their words and speak some sense. If the beginning of your chorus goes along the lines of ‘‘Hashtag trend / We make people go clap clap yeah’’ I’m less inclined to listen to your message.
Thankfully, the album isn’t solely Rizzle Kicks, and there are other artists featured which makes some of the songs far easier to listen to. One of the best songs on the album is ‘‘The Reason I Live’’ featuring Jamie Cullum, probably because there’s more significantly less rapping than on the other tracks, but also because it’s got a tasteful jazz piano beat, and a great melody which was one of the only things from the album that stuck in my head. The same can’t quite be said for the second song featuring Cullum but it’s still not half bad. It’s a shame that Damian Marley wasn’t more utilised in his feature on the track ‘‘Wind Up’‘. Had he had a bit more to say than just the same one line the track could have been significantly improved. Similar feelings are held in regards to Fatboy Slim who features on the track ‘‘Put Your Two’s Up’‘. There’s more of a contribution, especially with Norman Cook co-producing the song, but it’s a mediocre contribution, but perhaps anything more would have been wasted.
The album takes a turn for the childish on the closing song of the standard album, ‘‘That’s Classic’‘; a song which sees its first verse built around the concept of witches and wizards. The rest of the song is a homage to friends, fun, and good living. It’s here where the ages of the boys really stand out, but unlike the rest of the album, this song embraces their age and their youth. They capture the essence of having a good time, and not taking life too seriously which can be refreshing.
The thing about Rizzle Kicks which probably makes them so popular, especially amongst teenagers, is that they’re relatable. It’s hard listening to the American hip hop artists regularly discuss the daily battles against gang wars, guns, drug abuse, and abusive families when you’re the average British kid listening to Radio 1 on your school run in the mornings. ‘‘I wanna be smart but I don’t like learning’’ is a line from the fourth track, ‘‘Skip To The Good Bit’‘, and hell, who hasn’t had that thought come across their head at some point in their lives? ‘‘Don’t Bring Me Down’’ discusses how amazing, addictive and damaging love can be, comparing it to a ‘‘class A substance’‘, and what better way to appeal to many teenagers than by mixing the topics of love and drugs?
The fact is, there’s a lot of talent in the UK hip hop scene right now, both underground and in the charts (although noticeably more in the former). People are working hard, day and night, to record their music and try and get it out to the masses. Given this, it’s almost insulting that Rizzle Kicks have produced an album of this standard. They’re not lyrically great by any stretch of the imagination, but they could be a lot better, as their debut album shows. Their beats are catchy and poppy but quite frankly do little to enhance the overall sound of the album. As far as hip hop goes, these guys should hand over the baton, but, with their youthful good looks, effortlessly cheeky sense of humour, and trumpets galore, rightly or wrongly, they’ll remain in the game.