The zeitgeist’s thirst for nostalgia has driven otherwise sensible people to dig up some guys who have not moved the needle since the late 2000s, but meanwhile, one of the most exciting hip-hop acts of that period are making music like they never left their prime. Chicago duo the Cool Kids, aka rappers Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, were a big part of what made the “wild west” era of MP3 blogs exciting for rap fans — and their breakup in 2012 was a nail in the coffin of that era too. Fortunately for all of us, Rocks and Inglish regrouped in 2016, and their reunion has borne plenty of fruit — including an orchard’s worth just this month. On March 3, they dropped Before Shit Got Weird (Sounds Like Fun), a full-length fun that was announced as the first part of a triple album; the final two parts, Baby Oil Staircase / Chillout (Cake / Empire), arrived March 21, and follow the OutKast model of giving one LP to each member. The Cool Kids maintain a nonchalant playfulness across all three albums, though the relaxed, understated R&B-influenced tracks on Chillout can start to drag if you’ve already made a trip through the set’s entire two-hour run time. But the high points on these three releases — the squealing G-funk sprawl of “All or Nothing,” for instance, or the crisp, minimal melodies of “Diadora Doors” —prove that the Cool Kids created an enduring style more than a decade ago. They sound like they can cruise through several more vibe shifts without a scratch.
The Cool Kids’ When Shit Got Weird spirit Baby Oil Staircase / Chillout are available through their website.