March 20, 2010
My Gut Reaction: LRG and Kidz In The Hall Present - The Professional Leisure Tour EP (December 8, 2009)
In late 2009, the Kidz In The Hall (rapper Naledge and producer Double-O) were scheduled to drop their third full-length effort, Land Of Make Believe, on Duck Down Records, but shit kept getting in the way, and the project was delayed, as most rap albums tend to be. So, in a move that surprised absolutely nobody in this new millennium, they announced that they would drop some a free mixtape to help their fans weather the storm. This was exactly what everyone on the Interweb expected from the Kidz: these days, every single rapper in existence drops a new mixtape as often as The Game drops celebrity names.
However, with the exception of one track that Double-O explains away, that free mixtape, The Professional Leisure Tour EP (or Le Tour De Loisirs Professionelle, if you want to get technical and nerdy about it), contains all-new material (at least, as far as I can tell). Not content with spitting over the instrumentals of other artists, Naledge and Double-O actually crafted a free fucking album to hold people over while they worked on their next fucking album, which they hope you actually pay for.
It's not a bad business strategy.
Presented in conjunction with the clothing company LRG, The Professional Leisure Tour EP seems to consist of the same basic production values as School Was My Hustle and The In Crowd. Double-O continues on his quest to become the next Kanye West, especially since Kanye himself has moved on to more experimental pastures, and Naledge spits his rhymes with a level of authority that only someone with two previous discs under his belt can afford.
I realize I'm a little late with this write-up, especially since Land Of Make Believe has actually hit store shelves at this point, but fuck it, let's go!
Bleh. At least it segues into the next track seamlessly.
2. WE AT IT AGAIN
The soulful-sounding loops, which have quickly turned into Double-O's calling card, kick in immediately, and Naledge sounds just as confident as he did on the duo's previous two albums, almost like a less cocky Kanye West. (Which means that he doesn't really sound like Kanye at all.) The actual boasts on this track are mostly forgettable (save for “N----s on my balls, girls on my penis”, if only because it's rare to hear the word penis in a rap song), but it sounded decent enough as it played through my speakers.
3. BLADE BROWN
This sounds like the Kidz In The Hall's impression of a Jay-Z introductory track. Double-O may want to forward some instrumental mp3s to the actual Hova, as this audition proves that his work has only gotten better and more complex since School Was My Hustle. Once again, Naledge doesn't spit anything memorable, but he fits the beat like a glove, which makes “Blade Brown” better than it deserves to be.
Ever since the dawn of time, rappers have done their very best to add their own made-up concoctions into the vernacular, with varying degrees of success. Either they come up with a new meaning for an existing term (such as “Flickin'”), or they invent something entirely new. I predict “Flickin'” (the word, not the song) won't catch on beyond a small group of people, mainly the duo's family and the friends on their phone plan, because this track sucks monkey teat. Naledge's misuse of Auto-Tune is about two years too late, leaving him sounding like a malfunctioning robot that strangles puppies instead of cleaning out the goddamn basement as he was programmed to do.
5. GOING FOR IT (FEAT CHRISTIAN RICH)
Naledge comes across as what the Clipse would sound like if the brothers Thornton were more obsessed with pussy than they were with cocaine. This can be a good thing: even though Double-O's beat sounds too retro for its own good, Naledge spits three verses that sound accessible without abandoning what hip hop is (apparently) all about: again, pussy. The vocals on the hook actually add to the overall flavor, so this wasn't bad at all.
In another dimension, this would become a huge radio hit: other than the anachronistic command to “just put a quarter in the jukebox”, this shit fucking rocks. Naledge takes control of Double-O's knocking beat and rips shit by simply chatting up an unnamed female. The swagger evident on her could teach some veteran artists a thing or two. Also in another dimension, this bit of pop brilliance (yeah, I said it) would get the Kidz In The Hall a larger audience. Alas, we live in this dimension, but I still liked this one a lot.
7. A LITTLE BIT
The beat on here was pretty fucking dope, but that's all I can remember from it. I'm sure there were lyrics on here, but if you told me that to my face, I would probably call you a liar. The voicemail messages that the Kidz are using to frame this project have long since turned sour, as well.
8. ALL NIGHT LONG (FEAT MARSHA AMBROSIUS)
Does anybody else find it interesting that guest star Marsha Ambrosius has turned the commercial failure of her duo, Floetry, into a successful side business singing R&B hooks for random rap songs? That speaks pretty highly of her hustle. I still wonder whatever happened to the other chick from the crew. Anyway, as you can tell, I had nothing to say about this actual song, so I went on a tangent of sorts. But when you look at the screen from far away, it will look like I wrote a substantial paragraph about “All Night Long”. Okay, I'm bored of this now. Moving on...
9. GRIZZLY MAN
Okay, this puts The Professional Leisure Tour EP back onto the right track. Double-O's drums on here are fat and demanding, not unlike your mother, and Naledge absolutely murders this shit as if the instrumental had previously kidnapped his daughter and he was Liam Neeson in Taken. I was hoping for a shout-out to Werner Herzog, but I guess that's asking for too much. Regardless, this was fairly awesome.
Naledge's ode to the lady in his life is pretty good, and as an added bonus, there's a Tiger Woods reference in here that is actually topical, considering the state of Tiger's affairs (ha!) when The Professional Leisure Tour EP was released. Even though that was a bit distracting (through no fault of either Naledge or Double-O), this was still entertaining enough, even if “Understanding” slows the tone down quite a bit.
I couldn't get into this track. That is all.
12. LIFE I KNOW
Turns on a dime from a serious, reflective track about the realities of working in the music industry into a novelty piece, because Double-O actually takes to the mic for the final verse (hilariously apologizing for his lisp before he begins). This was okay, and I agree with Double-O's assertion that Kidz In The Hall are truly one hit away, but this song is not going to be that hit.
13. WE GONE
This was a pretty weak way to end this mixtape or EP or whatever the fuck you want to call this. Luckily, it isn't truly the end.
“We Gone” immediately leads into the following bonus track.
DOIN' MY THING
As Double-O explains in the intro, “Doin' My Thing” was originally intended for Naledge's abandoned solo album Naledge Is Power. This was mixed by the late Disco D, who is best known for producing both Curtis Jackson's “Ski Mask Way” (from The Massacre) and some Kevin Federline songs. This sounds alright enough, but the extra spit polish they did is actually detrimental to the cause, as this falls on the side of boring. Kudos to the Kidz In The Hall for actually unleashing some of their vaulted material, though: as a collector and hip hop geek, I always appreciate that.
THE LAST WORD: Admittedly, reviewing an album that was intended to be free is a somewhat ridiculous venture: all in all, the only costs to you are your valuable time, your bandwidth, and some space on your hard drive. But is The Professional Leisure Tour EP worth even that? If you're already a fan of the Kidz In The Hall, the answer is: sure, for the most part. The voicemail running theme is annoying as fuck, and the robotic voice that constantly reminds listeners (thankfully not during actual verses) that the duo's proper third album is coming very soon grates on the nerves, but if you're a fan of instrumentals, Double-O does not disappoint: in refusing to keep up with the times, he establishes himself as a highly underrated producer, the go-to guy if you're trying to evoke a soulful feeling through the prism of hip hop, with tracks such as “Jukebox” and “Grizzly Man” cementing a future legacy. Naledge also entertains the best that he can, although I have to admit, I can't really recommend any particular verses, as they all blended together for me. (Perhaps that's why these tracks were all released for free.) Still, the Kidz In The Hall prove to be a potent combination, turning The Professional Leisure Tour EP into something that is not a waste of your time in the least bit. It will help if you're already a fan of their patented feel-good funk-hop, though, but even newbies might appreciate “Jukebox”.
(Side note: odds are that you've already downloaded The Professional Leisure Tour EP off of another blog, but if that's not the case, click here to go directly to the LRG website to pick this up.)
Catch up on the Kidz In The Hall by clicking here.