Rizzle Kicks have become the latest act to make it big through the phenomenon that is the internet. Since the Arctic Monkeys used the world wide web so effectively at the start of their career, countless new talents have been discovered over the net. Rizzle Kicks, made up of childhood friends Jordan Stephens and Harley Alexander-Sule, secured a steadfast following after posting numerous videos, including unofficial remixes of their favourite songs, on YouTube.
The duo were quickly signed up to Island and released their debut single, the brash and lively Prophet (Better Watch It), soon after on iTunes. However, most will know the British hip-hop duo for their second single, Down With The Trumpets, which was a Top 10 hit after receiving constant airplay on Radio 1. Not forgetting their guest appearance on ex-X Factor contestant Olly Murs‘ Number 1 single, Heart Skips A Beat.
So, it’s fair to say the young duo’s rise to prominence has been accelerated by early mainstream exposure. But with such a weight of expectation on their shoulders, how does Rizzle Kicks’ debut album, Stereo Typical, hold up under the spotlight?
Dreamers kicks the album off in a confident and self-assured manner, with Jordan’s witty lyrics combining smoothly with Harley’s blissful vocals. “Yeah, I’m a grafter / check it or the grit on my Nike’s / delivering these lyrics like I’m big in the ’90s,” raps Jordan, offering an inoffensive, youthful observation, whilst also highlighting the early ’90s old school hip-hop vibe that runs throughout the spine of Stereo Typical.
When I Was Younger, the duo’s third single, samples Revolution Rocks by The Clash to marvelous effect, creating an incredibly infectious tune, brimming with adolescent energy. Lyrically, Rizzle Kicks continue along the theme of ambition and dream-achieving, as Harley sings, “I always thought of myself as a simple dreamer / never tried too hard but believed it / now all of a sudden / it’s gone my way.” When they’re not reminiscing about their dreams of making it, the duo’s lyrics are light-hearted and humorously juvenile. “Ummm… how much sound from the brass to the air / will it take to put your bras in the air?” intones Jordan, on Down With The Trumpets.
The opening of Fatboy Slim-produced Mama Do the Hump sounds akin to George Michael’s Faith, before evolving into a funky and contagious effort, one that is as suitably harmless as the rest of the material on the album. Stereo Typical may not engage with the more important teenage issues – such as those brought to light after the summer riots – but it does deal intelligently with everyday problems without striving for controversy. Miss Cigarette, another of the duo’s tracks that has been knocking around for a while now, sees Jordan compare a nicotine addiction to lusting after a girl. Whilst the previously unheard Traveller’s Chant, demonstrates the mellow, laidback production that puts Rizzle Kicks in the realm of Mike Skinner’s more contemplative work with The Streets.
Putting aside the obvious influence of early De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest on tracks such as Stop With The Chatter and Learned My Lesson, Stereo Typical sees the Brighton duo establish their own cheeky, soulful pop sound, one that will undoubtedly appease their current fanbase. The album maybe a couple of filler tracks too long, but there is always a tendency to extend debut albums where many of the tracks have surfaced months beforehand in other forms. All things considered, this is an impressive debut album from Rizzle Kicks. Jordan and Harley confirm through their assured lyricism that they are not afraid of embracing their 18-year-old selves, producing an album that is accomplished, whilst also appealing to their Radio 1-listening peers.