Musicians love to sing about (and sell) shoes! Skateboard hip-hop collective The Pack ride their debut EP right into the cement side of the hyphy, dirty, snappy, half pipe.
Maybe Elvis started telling us to stay off the Sam Perkins loaned blue suede’s just because the King was soulfully territorial and maybe Run DMC brought their Adidas adoration into hip-hop just because they looked down as saw three stripes and wanted to tell us about their favorite kicks. Whatever the reason is for the love affair between artists and their sneakers nonetheless the songwriting footwear fetish rolls on into 2007 with the Bay Area teenage hip-hop skateboard rappers The Pack.
The first single “Vans” mixes Bay Area hyphy with Dirty South Franchise Boys snap and is designed to roll around in your cerebral half pipe whether or not you think it’s a shameless sell out tune or just a song about a how much a teenager loves his Vans. If you can forget for a moment that “Vans” and the remix version sound shamelessly like a Vans commercial, you might have a good chance liking the song simply because it’s as silly as most shoe songs. The rap quartet exhibit average ability to flow above the novice beats of crew producer Young L. Yes, you could easily accuse The Pack of being naïve footwear billboards and the debut EP’s sex obsessed skateboard theme wears thin long before the clubby joy ride grinds to a halt.
“I’m Shinning” takes a brief introspective (but still unoriginal) route, delving into the darker side of a rising teenage rapper, burrowing the paranoid chorus croon of Rockwell’s 1984 Motown hit “Somebody’s Watching Me”. This tells me that boys’ female fan voyeurism predicament is gladly welcomed or fully loathed.
When I popped the disc in I was hoping for at least some attempt to tell us what it’s like to roll around in The Pack’s shoes for a day and not only hear a Van shoe history lesson backed by a bump and grind club crunk. A little bit of skate board park hip-hop journalism would be cool and interesting but might be too much to ask this pack of late-teen youngsters. There’s definitely no Lupe Fiasco “Kick, Push...” storytelling going on here but if things don’t pan out there’s always the Vans Pro Tour.