[ELECTRO HIP-HOP BANGERS] Kool, the debut album from Portland duo Serious Business, opens by comparing the group's music to candy. That metaphor isn't too far off base. Producer/MC Jason Mampel and frontman Danny Diana-Peebles' electrified party bangers owe at least as much to the genre's class jocks as they do to Justice, Deadmau5 and other reigning electro-cool kids. Serious Business adores goofy threads and big synth hooks (the bigger and goofier, the better). Drawing lyrical inspiration from partying, sweaty sex and lower-middle class ennui, these guys border on self-parody. If Ke$ha were two skinny dorks, she'd be Serious Business.
At seven tracks in length, Kool is a scant artifact of Serious Business' style, but this truncated running time allows the duo enough room to stretch its muscles without exhausting its frantic mood. The album's linchpin track, "NSFW," employs a guest chorus from Stacy Peltier as a framework to hang Serious Business' party-nerd manifesto: "Your anthem for drunk sex and best friends." The crew spends the rest of the album illuminating exactly how this offer will play out.
If Serious Business performed all of this with a straight face, it might not fly. But Mampel and Diana-Peebles have a redeeming sense of humor about their affected boasting. There aren't many MCs who can soundtrack a rager while paying equal homage to their "innocence and 14-karat swagger." There are even fewer who would have the self-awareness to notice this was a good idea in the first place.