Occasion, the fourth studio album from Kidz In The Hall, sees the duo throwing every radio-friendly spaghetti noodle at their disposal against the wall, hoping that anything will stick. The duo dabbles in a wide array of sound, exploring everything from the synth-hop to tougher, more traditional cuts. This diversity is great on some levels: no matter your favorite flavor, something on Occasion will catch your attention. But they ultimately fail at creating a new or unique chapter to their resume, a problem that prevents the album from being anything particularly memorable.
Title track “Occasion” stands out, and offers a sound completely different from the preceding intro. A bubbly party anthem, it sees the duo toasting to their success over a synthy, guitar-driven beat. Simplistic lyrics make it clear that the duo is looking for a crossover hit. It has all the ingredients in place to become your girlfriend’s new favorite song, but don’t be surprised if you start nodding your head with her. The first two songs on the album demonstrate the project’s dichotomy. Leading off with “Real Life,” Naledge and producer Double O appear hungry, trading bars over an angry, pulsating beat. “See I done work hard for the things I got/So I’mma pray harder that the shit don’t stop,” raps Naledge on the hook. A no-nonsense balled to humble beginnings and the miles travelled on their journey, there’s nothing wrong with it on a technical level, but devout Hip-Hop fans can easily rattle off other like-minded songs from better MCs.
Most other songs on the album fall somewhere in between those first two offerings. There are more than enough highlights to go around, including “Won’t Remember Tonight,” a track that sees the duo exploring the go-go side of Hip-Hop. Both “Break it Down” and “That Good” find the two picking up the guitar to execute a couple of care-free, party-friendly songs. Kidz In The Hall are definitely at their best with lighter material, and would sound at-home in a college dorm room as the backdrop to a game of beer pong. Double O and Naledge also enlist the likes of Freddie Gibbs (“Player of the Century”), Bun B and David Banner (“Pour It Up”) for songs that will, theoretically, appease more purist Hip-Hop fans. Even if they are awkward, forced collaborations that seem to exist because, hey, everyone loves Bun B, it’s hard to imagine fans in either camp taking the tracks seriously.
Occasion is a technically sound occurrence that seems to have been made with the intention of roping in a broad array of listeners. And, by borrowing from so many schools of Hip-Hop, they succeed in creating something that will keep listeners on their toes. But it’s a double-edged sword, as the Kidz stretch the entire project a bit thin and highlight their biggest fault: they don’t push the creative envelope. While filling multiple lanes definitely yields listenabe results, Occasion is ultimately an album without an identity. There are highlights to be had, but you’ve heard them before.
Label: Duck Down Records | Producers: Double O