And the Most Improved Player award goes to . . . Kidz in the Hall (KITH) for finally living up to the hype that caught their sail in 2008, during the presidential primaries. Sure, in theory they deserved a giant buzz — dudes were, after all, a Kanye-comparable Ivy League duo propping Barack Obama on hip-hop's toughest indie label (Duck Down).
But Double-O and Nawledge were not yet capable of chopping up the sort of cuts that people sing in traffic. They are now — there's no boredom in Land of Make Believe. From the get-go, "Out to Lunch" and "Traffic" start clapping, with trendy but substantial dishes like "Jukebox" and "Flickin' " fulfilling the guys-want-to-be-them-women-want-to-do-them quota necessary for any popular rap release these days, whether it be underground, mainstream, or extra-terrestrial. ("Bougie Girls" has the same effect, though it finds the boys more reclined than usual.)
At its best, Make Believe delivers the same hopeful message that KITH pushed for Obama: the OutKast-caliber "Running" is the positive ass shaker of the year, and "Take Over the World" is a potential Top 40 kingmaker. Such spirit boosters would be corny coming from most acts, but not from Double-O and Nawledge. These Kidz are all right.