There’s a popular misconception that artists who are dead serious about their craft have no choice but to make music that’s just as dead serious. Conversely, hip hop music that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself all too often gets misconstrued as the work of amateurs. In a time when the game is so stiff that nine out of ten doctors would diagnose hip hop with rigor mortis, underground workhorses MiC K!NG (f/k/a iCON the Mic King) and Chum (f/k/a Chum the Skrilla Guerilla) have once again teamed together to smash all preconceived notions under the guise of their newly christened duo Cool-Aide’s debut project, Flavor Ade. As the precursor to their forthcoming self-titled album, Flavor Ade finds the duo abandoning the sound of their first collaborative effort, Mike and The Fat Man LP, and creating the kind of record they always wanted to make…but swore they wouldn’t. “We made a record we don’t like,” MiC K!NG jokes. “We started off making another record in that same straight, evil, dark hip hop vein, but then we went and did the exact opposite. This is party music.” “I’m a DJ who makes beats, so it made sense for me to make beats that were more in the direction of the records that I play at parties – and if I want to get people dancing, I rarely play hip hop,” says Chum. “This record is more musical. It’s not super underground for the 10 people who are into that style.” While neither half of Cool-Aide is a new-jack by any means, Flavor Ade is bursting at the seams with an exuberance that feels like the start of a new beginning. Channeling the skills he honed throughout the years as a champion battle rapper and mind-boggling live performer, MiC K!NG effortlessly demonstrates his verbal gymnastics throughout the record, making it pretty damn difficult to dispute his self-designated title of “Best Rapper Ever." As fans of his work as head producer for CT crew Demigodz will attest to, Chum is no slouch on the beats, either. Powered by his deftly versatile production that runs the gamut from boom bap to synth-addled house to new jack swing (yep, that’s right, new jack swing), the duo speeds through an lively rollercoaster of genre-shifting, up-tempo madness, without ever sounding out of their element. And they’re joined by a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the underground, with guest appearances by Slug of Atmosphere, Slum Village’s elZHi, and Philadelphia’s best kept secret, Has-Lo. From the tongue-in-cheek swagger anthem “I’m The Best Mayne” to the party-friendly “Neo Jack Swing” to the motivational horn-heavy soul of “Run For Your Life” (which also served as the soundtrack to the half-marathon that MiC K!NG ran earlier this year for Crohn’s and Colitis), Flavor Ade is the sound of hip hop returning to its essence, to a time when the vibe of the party was equally important to what transpired inside the booth or onstage . “A lot of live shows have that middle school dance mentality, with everybody standing there with their arms crossed. But Chum and I are never afraid of being the first idiots on the dancefloor to make the party pop off,” MiC K!NG says. “That’s the element that we brought to the music. A lot of rappers started off as being space/sci-fi rappers, or real technical, and now they’re scared to evolve. We’re not scared. Flavor Ade is more dynamic, more fun, and it’s just good music.” It’s a rare feat when someone can demonstrate impeccable skill while making it look breezily easy – with their powers combined as Cool-Aide, Chum and MiC K!NG are cool enough to actually pull it off.