RapReviews doesn’t normally highlight free mixtapes in the weekly “featured review” you’re reading right now, but Sir Michael Rocks’ “Premier Politics 1.5” has a few things going for it. Many of you will already be familiar with Antoine ‘Sir Michael Rocks’ Reed as one half of the The Cool Kids, a group that sprang to fruition out of a chance meeting on MySpace with producer Evan ‘Chuck Inglish’ Ingersoll. Yes peeps – there was a point when MySpace was actually a relevant place for artists to connect and collaborate. It quickly became a fruitful Detroit to Chicago partnership, and by good timing or great providence their MySpace songs led to major labels and major names who wanted to sign them on the dotted line. Overnight they were opening for M.I.A. and recording songs for video games like NBA Live.
That much success that fast tends to make people suspicious, and you can certainly find some harsh critiques of The Cool Kids online, but they were arguably part of a new wave of artists inspired by both golden age emcees like Rakim and more experimental ones like Pharrell. The result was a new breed of rappers like Kid CuDi and Childish Gambino. Sir Michael Rocks fits perfectly into this mold, which some people derisively refer to as “hipster hop.” If you put the hate aside though, it’s easy to see that Sir Michael Rocks isn’t into aggressive hip-hop antagonism or male macho posturing, and there’s no reason for a rapper or anybody else to pretend they’re something they’re not. As “Pajama Pants” proves, it’s certainly not an impediment to getting laid.
“We should probably delete these
Pictures of you gettin freaky
‘Fore somebody fuck around and leak these
But you probably wouldn’t care – probably want ’em to see you
You got the TV up loud tryin to drown out the screamin
Your roommates be trippin cause they jealous they ain’t gettin none
Low-key – eighty-two miles per hour at a low speed
You should have your own motherfuckin theme song (uh-huh)
Soon as you take them jeans off (okay)
And that shit should play on replay
Look at your booty in them PJ’s”
Whatever your pre-conceived notion of what a swaggering boisterous hip-hop artist should be is, Sir Michael Rocks is definitely not that. He does talk about “money and fly shit” by his own admission on the Cookin’ Soul produced “Alive High” but then says something most other swag rappers would not: “I don’t do it to stunt on you and make you feel little man, you can do the same shit man, you can get the same shit too. Y’know the better you feel about the money the more it’s gonna come to you.” Now in an era of greed is good in hip-hop, where the more hundreds you can stack at the expense of everybody else the better, Rocks has an attitude that’s so out of step it should be the new step.
Of course it’s easy to have a laid back delivery, cool (no pun intended) point of view and a slew of good writtens in your notebook, but without good beats what does it all mean? “Premier Politics 1.5” has those beats and has them in spades to the point it’s almost insulting to give it away for free. Tye Hill’s beat on “Face Down” is reminiscent of the heyday of the Native Tongues, something Tip and Phife would rap over on a Tribe album. The Warriors has a hard sounding name but “Pick of the Month” is a plucky and fun anthem to having fun and partying. Ex-Odd Future affiliate Brandun DeShay drops a very OF-esque bass rattler on “New Dress” that wraps around your ears like a warm blanket on a cold day. Cardo is not John Lennon but his work on “Imagine” definitely puts you in a peaceful place.
At the end of the day it’s fair to say that The Cool Kids generally and Sir Michael Rocks specifically are not hip-hop for everybody out there. There are times I admit this just wouldn’t cut it – sometimes I really do want that adrenaline rush of pounding beats or emcees who get mad at want to stomp on the world like Bumpy Knuckles. Counting Rocks out because he’s laid back and easy-going would be a mistake though – he’s serious about one thing and that’s making enjoyable hip-hop music that you can lay back and mellow out to.