Kids These Days…

Traphouse Rock

-Album Reviewed by Jake Kresovich

Few young bands manage to put forth an album as compositionally sound as Traphouse Rock by Kids These Days. This unlikely group of high school students from Chicago, IL have created a powerful and persuading sound.  Their eight piece outfit is led by Vic Mensa on vocals, but he is not the only star on stage. Macie Stewart offers beautiful melodies on the keys and with her backup vocals. Produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Traphouse Rock blends hip-hop, blues, jazz and funk into a unique sound that begs listeners to press repeat.

Traphouse Rock rhythmically builds up and relieves tension through a number of powerful, loud ballads. The album opens with the cleverly named track, ‘(Intro)mental’ which features the piano lightly introducing a simple melody.  Once established, drums and a gentle bass fall in underneath. As the tune becomes increasingly complex and more directed, tension compounds, driving the raising the tempo, almost out of control.  Finally the guitar sounds with a soulful solo that releases all the pent up energy.

An interlude composed of radio sounds follows. The operator plays the tuner in search of a suitable station until the Traphouse Rock party begins with the third song, ‘GHETTO.’ Here listeners are immediately introduced to Vic Mensa rapping over the band’s rendition of ‘Smells like teen spirit,’ giving a nod to the youth and wildness of the band members.

The pinnacle moment of the album arrives early in the fifth track when Mensa rhymes ‘Don’t harsh my mellow’ over a dark, driven piano line.  The song is raw and tormented.  “Shut the fuck up” Mensa screams before diving into a chorus where the name of the song is repeated.

Traphouse Rock’s only guest appearance is by a young, up and coming Chicago artist, Chance the Rapper on the track ‘Wasting time.’ Chance’s verse builds as he appeals to his “darling Nicki.” He tells her that he loves her but feels he wasted time on her and is unable to understand what love actually is.

The second to last song, ‘L’Afrique’ stands out. Stewart offers a beautiful introduction over a light melody played by the keys and trumpet, pleading with the listener to open their eyes to the world and take in all that is offered. Mensa, meanwhile, adds in verses that are again a contrast to previous lyrics, touching listeners with a more reserved tone.

Along with unique, original compositions, Traphouse Rock features a number of covers of popular songs.  In particular, the horn section offers an impressive rendition of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ during the song ‘Bad Billikan’ and the jazz ballet ‘Summertime’ in the album’s final song ‘A Man’s Medley’.

Offering more ups than downs, Traphouse Rock leaves listeners feeling empowered, and with a sense that one person can conquer the world alone. The album showcases the creativity of the young minds behind Kid’s These Days, is emotionally packed, and will liven any situation.


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