Saturday, May 19 2012 14:41

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - MAKE BELIEVERS (Children's Album Review)

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MAKE BELIEVERS is a massive record. As I mentioned a month or so ago when the album announcement was posted here on The Rock Father, the little one and I have been spinning the new album from SECRET AGENT 23 SKIDOO here at HQ for awhile now. It's another one of those special albums that warranted holding back the review until release date was almost upon us, simply because you need to remember to buy this. Why? Because I'll throw down some info in the first paragraph that you'd normally have to read on for: This is a 5-Star Record.

One thing few people know about The "Rock" Father is that I grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago - a white kid "bussed" into a different neighborhood for elementary school in an effort to foster forced integration in the early-mid 1980s. It was there that I'd be introduced to and begin to love the now-old-school hip-hop stylings of RUN-DMC, the BEASTIE BOYS and LL COOL J alongside the R&B and Funk grooves of artists like ZAPP. From there it was BIG DADDY KANE, SLICK RICK, etc. I used to have an obnoxious boombox, but now - nearly 30 years later and Sirius XM's BACKSPIN channel gets a lot of play in my car. Where I'm headed with this story is that until last month, I'd never heard an album for children that captures those vibes, spins 'em, and spits it all out as something fresh and legit. MAKE BELIEVERS is it.


Secret Agent 23 Skidoo has gone Danny Ocean, assembling a crew of 40+ co-conspirators (why stop at 11?) to craft an album that contains that old-school hip-hop in it's DNA, while keeping an organic feeling throughout. There's that live instrumentation akin to THE ROOTS, while a lot of the song structure reminds me of GALACTIC's 2007 album, FROM THE CORNER TO THE BLOCK. Jazzy... funky... epic.

SkidooYou've got quality storytelling that kicks off with "Magic Beans" and it's reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk against a bass-heavy, horn-filled backdrop. Then there's "Space Cadet," a daydreaming anthem that brings together the entire Skidoo family, with daughter 'MC Fireworks' dropping a few verses with Dad, while Mom 'Bootysattva' comes in on the choruses. There's a smooth R&B collaboration with THE SECRET B SIDES on "Rocket Fuel" (great chorus), and before that a surf-tastic dose of psychedelic awesome with "Brainstorm," which makes me wanna see Skidoo take on THE AQUABATS (get that guest shot lined up, Hub folks). There's so much to like on MAKE BELIEVERS, that my wife caught us listening and said "Is that a kid's record?" 

One of the album's strongest tracks is tucked in the 10-slot, and just had a video shot for it - "Gotta Be You." A message applicable to humans of all ages (but especially impressionable tweens) - "Everybody wanna have a best friend/But your best friend gotta be you" - the song drives home that individuality trumps peer pressure, and that you have to do right by you. And, when that cowbell comes in around 2:55? That's some PAUL'S BOUTIQUE action right there.

The Bottom Line: Five months into 2012 and you'd be hard-pressed to find another family-friendly album that gets so much right.  In what's already been a great year for kid's music, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo rises to the top with an album guaranteed to remain unlike anything else you'll find on the racks, in the bins, or in the Children's section of your favorite digital music emporium.

Now, excuse me while I try finding a proper boombox for my daughter.

Make Believe is available May 22, 2012. You can check out Skidoo's Official Site for a copy, or grab an iTunes-exclusive edition with a special bonus track.

The Rock Father Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars - Flawless Victory!

FTC Disclosure: A copy of MAKE BELIEVERS was provided to The Rock Father on Compact Disc for the purpose of review consideration. The opinions presented here are that of James Zahn, and take into account the reaction of a toddler. Word! 

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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