From “Crank That” to “Walk It Out” to “You’re A Jerk,” a simple yet universally accessible ‘Hip-Pop’ dance record always seems to stream through the radio airwaves months on end until it becomes musically irrelevant. Last year’s contender was Cali Swag District, made up of C-Smoove, Yung, JayAre and the now-deceased M-Bone, who staked their claim with “Teach Me How To Dougie.” Offering their debut album The Kickback, the Inglewood trio looks to expand their name beyond a move inspired by Doug E. Fresh.
Light on lyrics but entertaining nonetheless, “Back It Up And Dump It” recaptures the impressionable dance vibes of “Teach Me How To Dougie” with an iterated hook and a bass-heavy beat. Cali Swag District then concentrate on some alone time with their girls on “Me And U.” Like a puppy love relationship from high school, they passionately admire their counterparts over sensuous production, a nice break from the usual boastful bravado. “Can’t Live Without My Music” works its way as the album’s closest archetype of a pop record, blending pounding synths with a bright melodic hook courtesy of newcomer Ashley A. Showing signs of musical maturity, CSD fittingly adjusts their delivery to match the upbeat production so that the synergy of the track flows smoothly.
On the other end, Cali Swag District spends a good amount of time attempting to prove they are ‘deeper than the Dougie,’ but to no avail does this point truly come to fruition. Botched performances like “Hip Hop Fiend” and “Disgusting” display a lack of execution mixed with amateurish lyricism, while “Run It” and “I Don’t Need Your Money” unfavorably sound like The Pack circa 2007. Then, meager rhymes meet shame on “9th Inning.” Using baseball as an atrocious metaphor for sex, Yung sullies arguably the game’s most cherished individual when he raps, “You can tell I’m major league by the way that I hit it / Ryan Howard with it tryin’ to knock it out the park / Maybe make a double play, catch a game after dark / Yeah, I’m like Jackie in his prime / But the number on my jersey say 69.”
While convincingly spry, Cali Swag District are unable to outlive the resonance of success that they attained with “Teach Me How To Dougie” as this one-sided affair of party tunes and fairly expendable production rarely impresses. Discouraging as that is, CSD still has the opportunity to salvage their reputation after The Kickback, but it’s clear that will take more than creating a new dance craze for the youth.