Follow Us on Twitter

Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel As Schoolchildren

Gym Class Heroes, As Cruel As Schoolchildren

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

HOW refreshing to find a hip-hop album that doesn’t exist to promote bling, whores or gangsta violence.

Geneva, NY-based Gym Class Heroes are true genre-busters – forward-looking rather than old-skool, they put out genre-busting jams that seamlessly mix rap, rock and R’n’B with anything else on their musical radar.

As Cruel As Schoolchildren is an epic hip-hop album – fresh, exciting, innovative and above all fun.

It’s cuts are sharp, funny and genuinely feel-good, while its interludes include some rhythmic flow that’s great without being offensive, self-obsessed or arrogant.

Says frontman Travis McCoy: “It’s just a complete full-on summertime album. The whole fun element of hip-hop has disappeared. Everybody takes themselves so seriously, it’s become a fashion show more or less. We wanted the vibe to be as fun as possible.”

In the case of this album, it’s mission accomplished.

So many of the tracks on the long-player register strongly, from opening track and former single Queen & I, with its giddy blend of hip-hop beats and riff-laden guitars, to feel-good final offering On My Own Time (Write On with its wistful, playful lyrics and hopeful flow.

Along the way, there are several classics in waiting.

The emphasis on fun is firmly laid down with Clothes Off!, a clever, funky take on Jermaine Stewart’s ‘80s hit We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off – only with the words changed to “we have to take our clothes off to have a good time”.

Set against a smart, effortlessly cool rap from McCoy and a cheesy 80s guitar solo, it’s immense fun and incredibly hip to match.

Vica La White Girl drops some sleek R’n’B beats and emerges as more of a song than a hip-hop record, while 7 Weeks is pure old-skool hip-hop during its Jurassic 5-style verses, before delivering a chorus that tip-toes into ballad territory.

Biters Block is chock full of cutting guitar riffs and slightly harder attitude, while the backing samples sound like ‘70s era Lalo Schiffrin from the original Dirty Harry movie.

And Scandalous Scholastics is another ballsy ode to coming-of-age fantasies that features such choice lyrics as “my name is on the lips of every cheerleader in my school, now I’m a legend in the locker room” and “I used to day dream about Miss Magnus, the type of fantasies you feel guilty for having”.

With its emphasis on fun and High School-style themes (each track is preceded by the title 1st period, or 13th period on the sleevenotes), some may dismiss this as a novelty slice of hip-hop that’s destined to age quickly.

But such is the style in which it’s been crafted, this is a fantastic hip-hop album that really does kick new life into a gangsta-obsessed medium.

Along with Jurassic 5’s Feedback it’s one of the very best hip-hop albums of the year – and owning it will only make you trendy.

Find out more about Gym Class Heroes

Track listing:

  1. Queen and I
  2. Shoot Down the Stars
  3. New Friend Request
  4. Clothes Off!
  5. Sloppy Love Jingle, Pt. 1
  6. Viva la White Girl
  7. 7 Weeks – William Beckett, Gym Class Heroes
  8. It’s OK, But Just This Once!
  9. Sloppy Love Jingle, Pt. 2
  10. Biters Block – Gym Class Heroes, Speech
  11. Boys in Bands (Interlude)
  12. Scandalous Scholastics – Gym Class Heroes
  13. On My Own Time (Write On!)
  14. Sloppy Love Jingle, Pt. 3