As you may have gathered by now, following article after article about the untouchable talent that is Chance The Rapper, it kind of goes without saying that I like the style of rap Chano creates, leading me to Vic Mensa, whose debut solo mixtape I rated very highly, which then led me to Kids These Days, his band before going solo.
Kids These Days is a collective style supergroup that combines and blends rap, soul, blues, rock, jazz, hip-hop, pop and everything in between, resulting in mega concoctions of musical fusion. The group is comprised of the aforementioned Vic Mensa who also sings as well as rapping, drummer Greg Landfair, two horn players- JP Floyd and Nico Segal (also known under his alias Donnie Trumpet) female vocalist Macie Stewart, as well as Liam Cunningham and Lane Beckstrom providing back up with the guitars. They’ve so far released one album entitled Traphouse Rock, but don’t fret it doesn’t feature any actual trap rap so-to-speak.
As I mentioned, their music fuses so many genres together that it’s near impossible to categorise them, but one thing that I particularly love is the omnipresent incorporation of horns and brass. This accompanied with the souful voice of both Macie Stewart combined with the Jason Mraz-esque vocals from Liam Cunningham make for such an exciting listen.
Above is track four from their debut release entitled Doo-Wah. As you can see, the group have incredible chemistry and fluidity with Vic and Macie singing in perfect harmony despite such contrasting qualities, it perfectly encapsulates the criss-cross of genres between Vic’s verses, soul-esque hooks, and toots from the horns, more specifically however, the horns are always utilised with incredible amount of measure, after the song’s middle-eight the horns and brass come is timed perfectly to come in at the song’s height. As well as this particularly outstanding track are an array of gems including the more jazz-orientated, gospel infused Who Do U Luv, and the electro-rock stemmed Bud Billiken that shines more light on Vic’s rapping ability, all the while backed up by the perfected brass accompaniment and hard-hitting percussion courtesy of The Social Experiement‘s Greg Landfair. Then out of nowhere is a jaw-dropping guitar solo that seriously nods at the likes of Radiohead with its undeniable ferociousness.
However, not the entire album is flawless, it’s quite a large project (15 tracks) that doesn’t really carry consistency across the entirety of the LP, but the positives really are positives- more than enough to overshadow the lesser tracks. As well as this, the concluding tracks 13 and 14 leave you with more than a sweet taste, until the final track- A Man’s Medley, which completely blew me away.
In summary, Kids These Days’ Traphouse Rock is an outstanding piece of music, [most of] the creations on the LP are nothing short of genius musical invention. As I mentioned, not every track is diamond standard, but with songs as intelligent and inventive as the positives are, I really have to take my hat off to the kids. My main qualm however? The group have since split up, meaning that they’ll be no more music from the group who seemed to have really made something impressive. Be sure to stream/download Traphouse Rock here.
Verdict – WWWW