Release Date: May 13, 2008
Record label: Duck Down
Backpacker hip-hop has long had a bad rap: nerdishness is not a quality that makes for a great MC, and worthiness is off-putting. But like fellow Chicago resident Lupe Fiasco, Kidz in the Hall are smart enough to rise above the cliches and avoid the pitfalls. Producer Double-O is in love with the old school - The In Crowd is propelled mostly by a proliferation of 90s samples and retro arrangements - but he is inventive enough to breathe life into the nostalgia trip; the summery glide of Love Hangover, with its insouciant Estelle cameo, and the rich fullness of The Pledge are testament to Double-O's improvement since the Kidz' debut.
Despite boasting a catalog of prolific artists, New York’s Duck Down Records has largely slipped from the public eye. Records by mid-’90s hardcore rap groups Boot Camp Clik, Heltah Skeltah and Smif n Wessun were early high watermarks that have been unattainable in the aughties: the re-releases of Boot Camp Clik’s For the People and Black Moon’s War Zone were just grasps toward a brighter past. This year just might be different, though.