On the low, the Midwest has been on the rise. Since the early 2000s, Midwest emcees have been the recipients of both commercial and critical acclaim. This is evident with the success of artists like Eminem, Nelly, Kanye West, Common, and Lupe Fiasco. So now the gates are open and it is up to the up and coming artist out of this region to take advantage of the newfound notoriety. With The In Crowd, Kidz in the Hall manage to create an album that showcases the talents and state of mind of middle America while blending well with some of the underground’s better lyricists.
The album from beginning to end displays a great combination of emcee and producer. Naledge and Double-O work well together bringing out the best in the other. This is seen on “Black Out” featuring DJ G.I. Joe and “Paper Chase” featuring an impressive verse from Little Brother’s Phonte. The album’s lead single “Drivin’ Down The Block” is a sensational ridin’ track that brilliantly samples vocals from Masta Ace and Outkast. The shining moments come later in the album beginning with the Midwest anthems “Middle of the Map Pt. 1” featuring Fooch and “Middle of the Map Pt. 2” featuring Black Milk and Guilty Simpson. “Inner Me” exposes the battles that Naledge has with himself battling inner demons, vices, and ambitions of success. The In Crowd takes the listener to a world that is not known to the average hip hop audience. While one is concentrated on the movements in other areas like the south or New York, there is a scene that is up and coming and one would be best to become aware.
But one thing that this album lacks is a true connection of identity. The title The In Crowd does not truly live up to its name for the fact that the Kidz in the Hall do not elaborate on exactly what “in crowd” they are exactly talking about. Is it commercial emcees, or is it the game in general? Or is it something completely different, we don’t know and the group lacks to address that question. But overall, The In Crowd exhibits true lyricism that has been missing while helping to establish their region and brand. – Ryan Harrison
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