Cultural lowpoints of 2008 part 1: “New Era” by Retro Kidz
Is this a music video or the “funky” advertisement for a back-to-school stationery range circa 1993?
Let me take it further than that… because of the fam, I spent a lot of time as a youth watching Italian TV via satellite. And the adverts during the kids’ programming all looked like this, an eighth-generation dubbing idea of what “cool” rap culture was like in the 80s, combined with some idiot earnestly shouting, in a thick Florentine accent, “SUPERCOOL BORSA DI SCUOLA CON POW-WERE RAYNG-JAZ E HURRICANES, IL NUOVO PROGRAMA DI CALCIO MAGICO”. Or something.
So anyway, hipster-hop, despite most of our best wishes, is now going to happen. 99.9% of rap fans, myself included, have spent the past year or so trying to repeatedly inform people that, no, we don’t want to “take it back”, we don’t want to “get those good vibes back”, and tbh our idea of “rocking the party” is to just put “Appetite For Destruction” on and give the loosest looking rock girls in the building free vodka all night. And when it comes to Retro Kidz, it’s not even a case of turning around and going “Do we really need this, we already have “Tougher Than Leather”?” . It’s more a case of “Do we really need this, we already have the third Jurassic 5 album. Jurassic 5. No, you’re thinking of Dilated Peoples. Jurassic 5, guy with the deep voice? No?” Diminished expectations.
So what can we learn from Retro Kidz, other than the fact that seemingly the most important TV show of the 90s was Hangin’ With Mr Cooper? Well, let’s run down the gang:
Kool Kid: looks weirdly like Ray Reardon in blackface
1st Lady: MIA actually had a hit now so I really can’t crack the jokes I usually would have here
IllWill: someone should let Nas know his homeboy has risen from the grave and he can stop shouting him out every five seconds
JSmooth: ghetto Mr Whippy
SurFreshAlot: Do I really need to think of something funny to say about all of these?
SkyTel88: Seriously, pause this 13 seconds in: those are the eyes of a man who has no friends other than pigeons
JoeSki: Clearly can’t be bothered to dress up being as he looks like a G-Unit hanger-on circa 2003 who dyed his hat because he’s “crazy like that”
Lucky 80s: Has the teeth of a sex case
And then over nearly four minutes of sub-Max Headroom camera tricks you get… what? If this was an indie act, slavishly copying the styles of some long, justly forgotten era and instead not really sounding anything like it (name me one 88 era rapper that had rhyme patterns like anything featured over the course of this track?), then they’d be clowned mercilessly by the broadsheet press. Instead, all we can look forward to with Retro Kidz is 4/5 reviews in thelondonpaper and The Guardian with someone letting us know that they’re “a refreshing alternative to so-called “bling” hip-hop”. And seriously fuck the guys who write those reviews, and fuck Retro Kidz for enabling them. “New Era” makes me want to lock myself in a room and listen to nothing but Hurricane Chris and Wiz Khalifa for the next year.