Fish Out of Water: The Cool Kids Reunite, Again

The Cool Kids once again come unmoored in time.
By    September 19, 2016

Jibril Yassin wrote this on his pager.

The last time the Cool Kids reunited, it was two years ago. There was an album, Shark Week, remember that? Mikey Rocks declared a war on biters and the few tracks they released had an energetic air to them. Evidently something was not right because the reunion was called off and Shark Week never materialized.

THE COOL KIDS ARE NEVER COMING BACK. IM SORRY. SHIT WAS TIGHT… BUT IM ACTUALLY WAY BETTER NOW IF U WLD STOP BEIN A DICK & LET ME LIVE

— Banco Populair (@SirMichaelRocks) April 25, 2015

This isn’t the first time where a Cool Kids reunion was hastily announced only to be later shot down. Sir Michael Rocks brought an end to the group and Shark Week in an interview from 2012. Chuck Inglish later admitted in a Reddit AMA there was legal machinations at play preventing the group from operating the way they’d like. “Shark Week was never a real album.” he added. But here we are again, two years later at the start of a whole new cycle. Will they? Won’t they? It’s a seemingly fresh start—the two interviews Chuck Inglish has conducted addressing the reunion makes no mention of their 2012-2014 plans, scrubbing it out of their discography better than an overzealous Wikipedia fan could.

The advantage of getting designated “ahead of your time” means getting to coast on your laurels for a hot minute, giving you enough time to figure out what’s next. It’s been five years since When Fish Ride Bicycles, eight since The Bake Sale. Remember when it felt like When Fish Ride Bicycles took forever?

Listening to Bake Sale now is fascinating. The acapella production for “What Up Man” read as a nice little novelty when I first heard it and surprisingly, it has yet to grow corny. The same goes for the rhymes—this is basically a left of center Acid Rap cut in reverse. “Black Mags,” “One Two,” “88,” and “Bassment Party” come off as infectious and fun. The secret to Chuck Inglish’ production keeping fresh is all in the bass and 808s; nothing from 1985 rocked this hard.

In hindsight, calling the Cool Kids “hipster” or “retro rap” was a silly idea. The group never scanned as corny or trying, their minimalism never sounding forced, else they’d come off looking like some Jurassic 5 sounding motherfuckers. They mined the past for nostalgia better than most. They had the audacity to feature the same Raheem the Dream hook Fergie used in “Glamorous” and stacked it at the beginning of “Bassment Party.” I recently did a poll on Twitter to determine who flipped Nas’ “rooftop like I’m bringing 88 back” best and the votes were unanimously in favor of the Cool Kids’ “88” over that one Iggy Azalea track. To be fair, there were only six votes but that says a lot.

There’s no way this had any influence whatsoever on Yeezus’ own minimalist ethos but would a young listener be able to hear Bake Sale after the fact and not get confused? Did everyone who rocked “Black Mags” in the year of our lord 2010 move on to Father instead? Or Makonnen? Or worse, Odd Future?

The Cool Kids crowned themselves the new black version of the Beastie Boys on Bake Sale years before punk and alt-rock became acceptable to reference yet that never felt accurate. The two groups shared the same taste for self toasts but the Beastie were on an island of their own influence, the kind of cool too strange, too punk, too Zen for anyone to want to imitate. But The Cool Kids sampling themselves for a hook on “Black Mags”? That felt approachable. This is why their reunion tweets get trending and receive write-ups in Complex News. It’s why eight years on, Bake Sale remains the watermark of their discography and why the Cool Kids could conceivably get away with never putting out another full length project. Maybe it’s time to catch up.