With his left finger over his eye and the right hand on his crotch, the picture depicted of Extra Kool on his “one sheet” alone, unleashes an individual with an unusual style, for lack of better words. This was going to be interesting album.
Calling Denver, CO home, Extra Kool has been around enough to share the stage with underground artists such as Aesop Rock, Murs, The Shapeshifters and Anticon. With previous releases including Nostalgix, One Man Empire, Ickabod Strange, Optimistic Pessimism, A Mouth Full of Stitches, and Teem Geezus, Extra Kool has released yet another unconventional album, “Tickled Pink,” with production from AwareNess, Satyr, Doctype, Mattr and Time.
As you can tell, Extra Kool isn’t your average happy-go-lucky type of emcee as seen through his lyricism, delivery, and choice of production. Clearly, he defies and rebels against the underground emcees that dwell in self-reflection and positive energy. Instead, he chooses to dive into a world of cynicism. With the variation of production that sets the tone for “Tickled Pink,” the assembly of sounds from Mattr found in the beginning tracks creates an ill-omened feeling of boding evil. “Bullet Tooth Tony,” inspired by an ex-girlfriend, shares a similar ominous beat to “Gasoline Dream” with its heavily synthesized experimental sound. Extra Kool gives an account of his past experiences with a neighbor who found solace in drugs as he says:
“This is my dream
Not the type where I lose sleep
But the type that my neighbors don’t cook crack in the night
I went to bed happy and killed all the sheep
But no one else seems to give a shit
As the rest of the world stands knee deep in blood and bloated hypocrites…
His gasoline dream, pretty people never die
His gasoline dream, he lives his life up in the sky
His gasoline dream, he lost his youth and wonders why
His gasoline dream, he doesn’t care so why should I?”
Similar to the previous track, the monotonous beat carries on in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but unlike the popular Marilyn Monroe song, Extra Kool’s version is dismal to say the least. As a pastor once told him that Jesus needs his money, Extra Kool proclaims that “Jesus wants your money just so he can buy some diamond rings, cut the arms off at the wrists I promise we can sit in misery.”
“The Hills” sums up the existing trend of eerie, sinister sounds because of the influence of horror flicks with his music as he says, “I watch horror movies then write songs.” I think Extra Kool should lay off of the flick those for a minute.
Beyond the repetitious confusion found in the beginning of the album, Extra Kool eventually redeems himself in “Tickled Pink” with the introduction of choice production and clarity. Extra Kool brings us back to the reality in “The Life and Death of Love and Anguish” as he creates connections between life, love, misery, and anguish. Expressing the truths of feeling and growth, Extra Kool reaffirms the importance of self-worth as he says:
“Break away and make yourself more than a duplicate
Entertain your hunger with the side that has truth in it
Imitations won’t succeed
They are only templates
Limitations won’t agree when you try to reset them
Sculpting your appearance to resemble opportunity
Holding onto fear slowly writing your own eulogy
Life wants to shadow death and understand its language
happiness devoured hate and love digested anguish”
Addressing a poignant moment in his life, Extra Kool dedicates a song to his brother that passed in “7/22/06” which also signifies the day he died. He thinks back to the memories once shared with his brother while growing up and soon reverts to the day when the life of his brother was lost.
With the culmination of a wide array of feelings and emotions coming together, “Dead Bang” is a conversation between Extra Kool and God as he figures out his life and his meaning in life. In a clever way, Extra Kool delivers an engaging story that shows all of us need some help sometime or another. With its impressive production of simple piano and breaks with the sole sound of drums, “Dead Bang” illustrates the vision of success and triumph in all of us.
Extra Kool retains a unique command and delivery in lyricism, although his level of cynicism and skepticism are at times difficult to follow. From time to time, I found myself lost in the large amounts of in depth descriptions and metaphors and wished that it was kept simple. Without a short synopsis of each song provided in the CD insert, I would have been completely lost at some moments during the album. Fortunately on the whole, Extra Kool brings a sense of distinctiveness and individuality with his character. An assortment of twisted humor and eccentric past incidences keeps the album engaging from start to finish as I would have to say I found myself “tickled pink” by the end as well.