Listening to The In Crowd, the sophomore effort from Chicagoan rap duo Kidz in the Hall, is a lot like putting your R&B and rap collection on shuffle. Showing more versatility than on their debut, Double-0 and Naledge tackle an assortment of new styles, from dance and R&B to commercial rap, to old school hip-hop to trip-hop.
For the most part, Kidz in the Hall stick to the blues and jazz beats that were so popular in the ’90s and have been reappearing recently, thanks to artists like fellow Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco and Madlib. Opener “Black Out” finds its home in the beat of an upright bass. “Paper Trail” is not only smooth enough to make Michael McDonald proud but boasts a guest appearance from Phonte that’s reminiscent of Mos Def.
But lest ye get too comfortable with the laid back vibe, Kidz in the Hall kick things into a new gear with “Drivin’ Down The Block,” which features the flashy lyrics and production of a Lil’ Jon or Ying Yang Twins joint. Oh, but don’t expect that mood to last, either – because next they whip out “Lucifer’s Joyride,” a quirky, dance-r&b jam about cruisin’, boozin’ and sexin’ that could make Justin Timberlake jealous.
Lupe Fiasco isn’t the only influence that’s apparent on The In Crowd. Based on “Mr. Alladatshit,” a bright, flashy jam pulsating with hubris and mildly amusing references to recent icons of cool (“Crazy like Cee-Lo, ‘scuse me, Gnarls Barkley”), it’s probably safe to say that they wink a bit at Kanye West. They even try to broach a similar contradiction of ego in “Inner Me.”
And that’s just the problem with The In Crowd — as diverse and enjoyable as it is, Kidz in the Hall aren’t saying anything new, or even saying anything old in a new way. It’s a somewhat forgivable offense, however, considering that this is just their second full length. Their career is still young – they should be allowed to have fun with it.