The key to any great musician is progression—progression is what it’s all about.
An artists’ music should always get better and not worse as the years go along and with their latest musical installment, Occasion, out November 22nd, Chicago based duo Kidz In The Hall, definitely have progressed.
Four albums in, emcee Naledge and producer Double-O aren’t quite the guys who they were when they initially entered the scene. When listeners were first introduced to the duo, it was with their 2006 debut, School Was My Hustle, a project that penned tracks like, “Go Ill,” and the cheeky “Ms. Juanita.”
Now, five years later, it’s almost as if the duo has graduated from the days of hustling and traded it in for a more confident, braggadocios and commercial sound.
Fans were able to see the project being created at Los Angeles Red Bull studios in their six-part series “Here Now” on MTV2 and the end result surpasses their last project, The Land of Make Believe, easily.
“The album is by far our best work. All artists usually feel that way, but in my honest opinion our mental space wasn’t as positive for the last album. We didn’t rush this project and we made sure we had fun crafting it. Occasion is the soundtrack to letting one’s everyday problems go and focusing on the celebration at hand. Life should be a celebration.”
This project, could potentially take Kidz in The Hall to a more commercial and mainstream level that they were never able to achieve minus, “Drivin Down The Block.” The production on this project, for the most part is pretty good—pay special attention to “Star,” “Break it Down,” “Real Life,” “She’s Smokin,” “Pour It Up,” and “Wont Remember Tonight.” Naledge develops more as an emcee, however, this project doesn’t sound too Kidz in The Hall like, kind of more Kanye West-ish or something of that sort.
With that being said, some of the great tracks on the album start with the pop like, “The Good,” featuring Esthero, which makes for a pretty cool collaboration. This track works as essentially the 2011 “Love Hangover,” featuring Estelle from their sophomore album, The In Crowd. This production on this album is a little on the melancholy side and only fits the overall tone of the track. The simplicity of the chorus, “in case you haven’t noticed, I wanted you to know that, I love you,” not to mention the sweet verses, “I never miss her call, I miss her when she’s gone. Never need the lights on just to turn me on fiending on her touch. Maybe, you can smell me, she can be the one nothing you can tell me,” all make for a great crossover song.
“Make It Up Tonight,” “Crash Dummy” featuring Killa Kyleon, “She’s Smokin,” and “Player of The Year,” featuring Freddie Gibbs are all cool tracks as well. Naledge flows seamlessly over these tracks, not to mention the production on these tracks are all dope as well.
“Star,” and “Won’t Remember,” however, are probably the two most noteworthy tracks on the album. Let’s just say, the production on these two tracks are both great and are easily the marriage of great collaborations, and tracks that would sound amazing live.
First, “Star,” featuring Tabi Bonney and One Chance, I will admit definitely caught me my surprise. I’ve always felt that One Chance was kind of corny (I’m not big into boy bands minus B2K, and NSync) and Tabi Bonney were kind of corny—which I admit, Bonney is wearing me down these days. (I often used “In The Pocket,” as a reference to the corny factor} However, them on this track is cool. This is actually the theme song for the Kidz’ series. The track is a celebration, which is followed by the big band track, “Won’t Remember Tonight,” featuring Ms. Marsha Ambrosius and Anthon Genius, another definite highlight.
The last track on the album, “I Swear,” features a vocal sample that flows through the beat, and is sure to be a big song. Listening to this song, you see the potential that Kidz have on a bigger scale. Overall, as a fan of the duo since the beginning, I feel like a proud mother watching my children blossom into adults. No, I don’t necessarily like every track on this album, however, I think that just gives me something to look forward to for the next project. I was a little skeptical about this project just because I read that it was a more mainstream and commercial project from them, however, I am just glad that perhaps more people will get why I like them.
As an added bonus to this long winded review, I was asked why I liked Kidz in the Hall and was then challenged to write a list of my 10 favorite tracks from them, so here’s the list in no particular order. Pre-order Kidz in The Hall Occasion, here.