On August 16th, Minnesota local hip-hop duo John Chuck & The Class released their debut EP Grow Up. Myself and others have anticipated the release of this four-track EP for a while now, and the first track, “Mother of All Intros”, just catalyzes that anticipation. The main element of the intro is a sample of an early 1950’s PSA about puberty in boys. Around that sample, which is interesting to listen to on its own, is a build up of music that just gets you pumped–beginning with a simple percussive beat and ending with bass and lots and lots of synth (including a cool flute sound.) This intro brings me back to the couple times I’ve seen the duo live and the energy of the performances. Grow Up is a celebration of what John Chuck & The Class fans know to be true.
I don’t know if any thought was put into the transition between “Mother of All Intros” and the second track “Business As Usual,” but it’s really cool and sharp.
“Business As Usual” is a track that you’ll already know if you know JC&TC. It was their first single, and something I’ve been listening to consistently since I first discovered them last December. The allure of “Business As Usual” is simply that it’s fun and refreshing. The song doesn’t sound like anything else, and it’s so, so very clever. Actually, with lyrics like “I feel like a PC in an Apple store,” “Underground rappers crush pop like it’s soda pressin’–Get it so depressing how they thinkin’ that it’s so impressive,” “We ain’t trynna mock ya, we just bring a different taste kinda like a potluck” and one of the catchiest hooks ever, “clever” doesn’t even begin to describe it. All in all, the most important line of the single is a phrase that describes the whole EP: “Rapping just to show how great this life really is.”
You know a song is going to be good when it starts off with mouth-made whip sounds. “Grow Up” screams “HIP-HOP” louder than anything else on the record. You can take the track at face value as a typical fun party song about wanting to stay young, but it gets really impressive when you pay attention to all the tiny details in the actual music itself: eerie twinklingglockenspiel, acoustic guitar, a melodica-like sound that reminds me of Ratatat, and more mouth-made whip sounds. Plus, as a newly-seventeen-year-old, I definitely feel the “I don’t want to grow up” theme. This song is featuring Emmitt James, an emcee and poet living in LA via Milwaukee. His voice is a great contrast to JC’s. It’s almost rare for a poppier song to be so complex, but John Chuck & The Class never cease to amaze me. In layman’s terms, “Grow Up” is a bop.
I’m a sucker for some bright piano and cute love songs, making “Where Have I Been All This Time?” possibly my favorite JC&TC song. I’ve heard it a few times live, and it’s the track that I’ve been most looking forward to hearing in a studio setting. It’s smooth and funky and makes me think of city lights and sunny fields simultaneously. “Taught me how to breathe, I taught you how to skip rocks” is a charming specific line that sets it apart from all of the popular vague love songs. The bridge sounds almost fairytale-like, like it could be playing in the background of some ballroom dancing scene in a movie. “Where Have I Been All This Time?” is a good song to close out the EP, showing a part of the spectrum of atmospheres their songs can create; this particular song being all cupids and heart eyes.
I’ve always thought that John Chuck & The Class were destined for greatness, and this EP is just another step towards that. In this day and age, it’s so refreshing to find a band whose main purpose seems to be just making you smile. Grow Up is an EP that’s essential because sometimes you need to just celebrate.