Chicago’s Kidz in the Hall are considered an “alternative hip hop duo,” but their latest release finds them taking a different approach that may catch fans off guard.
Land of Make Believe apparently tries to be a bright, optimistic party record that swells with confidence, boastfulness and tight grooves.
Unfortunately, Naledge’s confidence is almost working overtime, as songs are packed with incessant bars of braggadocio and swagger. Saving the day at times, DJ Double-O’s beats and soundscapes keep things popping with a sleek, funky 80s party-in-the-park hip hop vibe.
Overall, there’s something missing.
Land of Make Believe often feels disorderly and scattered, as though the perspective was never decided on. It’s little more than a range of random songs, unfortunately, and that lack of structure doesn’t do the Kidz any favours.
“Pimp in my own fuckin’ mind,” Naledge spits on “Flickin’” over a smooth synth groove. The song runs like a register of shit to brag about and gets tiresome after a while, although Double-O’s production attempts to reclaim things with firm grooves.
Land of Make Believe’s first single, “Jukebox,” works well musically thanks to Double-O’s resourceful 80’s soundscape and fluttering beats, but Naledge does little to bump up the proceedings beyond a grotty club rump-shaker. MC Lyte’s contribution is miserably comprised of backing vocals and repetitious ad-libs about booty-shaking and putting a quarter in the jukebox.
The Kidz shift gears with “Take Over the World,” an hopeful anthem that accounts for one of the record’s “inspirational” tracks. Featuring Just Blaze’s production and a guest spot from Colin Munroe, the song regrettably crosses into cheesy terrain and never recovers.
Land of Make Believe has its bright spots, on the other hand, and the blunted bounce of “Traffic” is probably the strongest cut on the record. Naledge spits relentlessly over Double-O’s beat, working the pauses and paces skilfully.
Taken as a whole, Land of Make Believe just doesn’t possess enough cohesion to advance it past its weaker songs. As a party record, it’s insipid and inconsistent. As a “go get ‘em” album of uplifting, inspirational cuts, it borders on the tacky. At the end of the day, it’s hard to consider this Land of Make Believe as anything more than a slip-up in the otherwise solid career of Kidz in the Hall.