Denver, Colorado musicians Extra Kool’s name isn’t the only thing that will make you think this is 1992; his style and flow will too. He is apologetically a student of what many consider to be the golden age of hip hop. Even the logo on his Bandcamp page hearkens back to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
His latest offering, Eight, is a straight-up trip to the days of shot callin’ and yes y’allin’. “Phantoms” stands up with the best flows of the era. It’s got a smooth beat that sounds like it samples some 8-bit video game classics. It’s a fun track that will definitely get your head bopping.
“Oh My, My” is a frantic attack. It’s aggressive, in your face, and is full of bravado, which he delivers on. He can be lyrically clever with lines like, “If you are what you hate then I’m not me.” The beat makes you feel on edge, but keeps your body moving.
“Rabbit Ears” sounds like the early works of many of the Wu-Tang Clan members. The eerie flow and ruthless aggression is unmistakably influenced by the seminal group. The same can be said of “Rorschach Tester” with its ethereal piano in looming in the background.
“I Already Knew That!” is an interesting track. It slows the beat down and gives some profound self-actualization. It’s his admission that he’ll never be the next Macklemore to jump from the underground to the big stage. He knows the limits of his style and he’s okay with it. No false delusions of grandeur, just knowing who he is and embracing it. I applaud that.
He’s got a lot in common with Classified, Canada’s pretty-much official white boy of hip-hop. And like Classified says in his classic “Oh… Canada,” Canada’s “still doing rap like it’s the 1990s, but that’s how we like it, off timed and grimy.” Maybe moving north of the border wouldn’t be a bad career move?
Written by Richard Brunette
*edited by Kate Erickson