Mixing traditional boasts and classic hip-hop swagger with some high-quality rhymes and genre-expanding productions, Land of Make Believe is a flashy rebirth for the hip-hop Kidz in the Hall, one as colorful and bright as the album’s ‘80s-inspired cover. The decade also influences some of the electro-like productions that are front-loaded on the album, such as the mind-bending “Out T Lunch” and the good-timing highlight “Flickin’,” which can make the listener feel like a lottery winner for a solid four minutes (“No it ain’t my birthday/But you see me spendin’ cash”). “Jukebox” is just as exciting with its disco production from member Double-O, but it’s another rump-shaker with strip club lyrics from Naledge.
For the most part, rappers no longer strive to emulate Black Moon or Gang Starr. Packing gats? Getting paid out the anus? How obscene! From slick new-jacks like Drake and Wale to suburban anti-gangstas like Asher Roth, today’s hip-hop scene is more about stylish sophistication than gritty nihilism. Perhaps no one exemplifies this trend better than Kidz in the Hall, a preppy pair of Penn-educated chums from Chicago.
Looking at their track record, you could conclude Kidz in the Hall have been dealt a bad hand. Showing up a tad late to the backpack renaissance, Penn graduates Naledge and Double-O have spent three records now trying on several different hats, none of which fit particularly well or were worn comfortably. Maybe we just expected two Ivy Leaguers to make music that was challenging musically and lyrically; instead we got odes to drunk girls and corny self-esteem lectures.