2.5 stars (out of 4)
Chicago’s Cool Kids -- Antoine "Mikey Rocks" Reed and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll – would be rich if they had a nickel for every time they were name-checked by a music blog in 2007-08. A mix of sharp concerts and a steady flow of digital singles and mix tapes made them a trendy choice for next-big-thing status in the wake of Chicago-bred success stories such as Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. A brilliant 2008 EP, "The Bake Sale,"affirmed the duo’s strengths: an abiding affection for Golden Age hip-hop with tag-team vocals, everyday subject matter, hard beats and minimal fussiness.
Reed and Ingersoll flip clever rhymes that pay homage to vintage cars ("Rush Hour Traffic," "GMC"); smooth-talking radio DJs ("Boomin' "); pre-Lebron-era hoops and fashion ("Penny Hardaway"); Chicago winters ("Bundle Up"); Chicago summers ("Get Right," "Summer Jam"); and girls, girls, girls. The MCs never get particularly excited, keeping a cool reserve that requires listeners to meet them halfway. Ingersoll, who handles most of the production, favors midtempo beats and terse keyboard riffs, modest almost to a fault. A few guests (Bun B, Mayer Hawthorne, Travis Barker, Asher Roth) expand the sound slightly and beef up the hooks without resorting to gimmickry, though the Neptunes-produced "Get Right" could pass for an outtake from Pharrell Williams' N.E.R.D. It makes for a solid if unremarkable follow-up, the kind of release that buys a little more time for the Cool Kids to live up to their original promise.