Upon first listen to North London’s latest rhyme-spitting protègé, CallMeTheKidd, his influences are pretty clear. His début EP, 2ND2N: The Movie is a tightly produced collection of R‘n’B in the style of Drake or Ne-Yo, with Drake listed on his bio as a particularly admired artist. It’s dancey, it’s poppy, but although there are a couple of interesting tunes on the EP, overall it is held back by the old clichés of the genre. Almost every song deals exclusively with the Kidd’s Herculean level of swag. Using lyrics from the EP, I have constructed a profile of the man behind the music:
- He has lots of money.
- Everyone thinks he is a pretty cool guy.
- Women find him irresistible.
- If you are a lady he politely requests you dance in a manner which affords maximum rump exposure, preferably in a state of partial undress.
- He possesses a large and varied collection of premium branded goods.
- Some of his friends are gangstas, but not the grubby dead-eyed ones, they are more like the ones from Bad Boys II who have nice shoes and Bono sunglasses.
- Swag is in his genes.
The single ‘Jungle’ is less affected by these issues. The video is slick, and avoids many of the overused tropes common to this type of music video. He doesn’t wave piles of cash about or brandish a bottle of Grey Goose, the shutter shades and snapback have been left at home. Instead, there are some clever visual parallels between the urban and natural environments, as the Kidd and his lady friend shift between London and their metaphorical steamy rainforest. ‘Jungle’ has a chilled, minimal beat and a lead synth that can get repetitive at times but it isn’t a song for just listening to. It’s for dancing to in a club and in that respect it is definitely fit for purpose. The vocals are of course AutoTuned, but tastefully so, and this lets his natural London accent come through instead of sounding like T-Pain.
Much of the remaining tracks are returns to the “I’m really cool and have expensive things” theme, with an interesting pattern emerging in the lyrics. CallMeTheKid will often speak of attracting women with his money/swag/worldly goods in one song, but then complain in another that they’re “all about the paper” and only value him for his money. Clearly, romance in the rap game is a vicious circle of disappointment.
All this aside, some of the tunes on 2ND2N are pretty inventive. The cheeky Spandau Ballet sample in ‘Gold’ and the addition of some strings and vocal synths make it one of the standouts, while ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ has a more interesting drum line and some nice contrast between male and female vocals. Unfortunately, the majority of the EP is just too monotonous and similar to stand up well on its own, no matter how good individual tracks would sound in a club. It’s possible that his style would suit the “single/B side” format better than the longer EP as this would give the best material some room to be enjoyed. CallMeTheKidd is clearly a talented pop producer, and the better offerings of this début effort show that he has the potential to be up there with his hero Drake.