One half of the Chicago/Detroit hip hop duo The Cool Kids next to Chuck Inglish, Sir Michael Rocks (born Antoine Reed) has neatly found his place in hip hop, expressing his youthful, philosophical sensibilities through real hip hop rhymes. Having previously recorded one Cool Kids album and a number of other noteworthy mixtapes and EPs, Rocks has discovered a wellspring of triumph from his crafty debut album Banco, which was recorded in both his hometown Chicago and LA. Right off the bat, he aggressively dives into his intro track, charges through it with stylish force, and ends it on a wise, sagely note, all the while making evident his fine lyrical prowess. All in all, Rocks takes listeners on a tour of what it really means to be a Cool Kid. Part of what makes the album exciting is the erratic pace and order (or lack thereof) of the presented topics. Rocks changes directions often and casually, going from balling to "hanging out the limo" to playing the ladies to something else entirely, sometimes within a single song. In general there are not many concept songs in the traditional sense. Rocks and his friends experience every emotion in the book. They are reflective, critical, wild, serious, threatening, and more, depending on where they're met on the album. Nowhere else is this feeling more obvious than in the production, which is esoteric, eclectic, and different in a very fresh way. Together, the lyrics and the beats artfully demonstrate the randomness of youth. The guests include some bigwigs, some regional favorites and even some new up-and-comers like Casey Veggies, Robb Bank$ and Pouya. With a few comical skits tossed in to keep the mood light, Banco is cool and chock-full of youthful swagger, brought to you by a real hip hopper who knows how to have fun succeeding in the rap music industry.
July 29, 2014