‘Baker’s Dozen’ by Part Time Cooks Album Review

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The Seoul-based, South Africa and USA-originating, beat-murking cooks have been back in the kitchen!

The first time I listened to Part Time Cooks was with the release of Midnight Snacks, the group’s first joint offering. I was well into the 10th grade and the 7–track EP gracefully assumed its position playing a very prominent role in my life, slowly becoming somewhat of a manual: the motifs relating to the management of emotions and life’s curveballs; the smooth beats accompanied by Saul Goode, Joe Rollins’ and Black Moss’ electric chemistry and unique tones; as well as the themes relating to passion for one’s craft among the many underlying metaphors (some of which I’m pretty sure were culminated by my overly-analytical mind) all spoke to me in a way that no other project had in 2014. Close to two years later the chefs have returned with another project, and its fire.

Coming into Baker’s Dozen, I faced a bit of a dilemma. When one finds themself falling into the emotional journey of becoming a fan of a group based on their first EP, you can’t help but wonder what the future of the relationship will look like: will it be dope and consistent, or will you endure the stress of needing to try hunt down and piece together some good qualities in the music to help you in those energy-consuming arguments? You never really know. But upon its arrival, Baker’s Dozen proved this internal conflict to have never been necessary in the first place – the chefs delivered.

Part Time Cooks may not be a household name yet but the group has been cementing their careers solidly into the South Korean rap scene for years now with their authentic love for life and music that exposes itself with every release – whether they say it or not.

Being described by Urban Vault as “the apex of the sound that [they] have been cultivating during the past two years”, Bakers Dozen doesnt have the same DNA as most projects coming out right now. For starters, this project is a the product of different solo influences that blend beautifully – not only lyrically but in the genres, languages and completely different cultural references that are incorporated within the project.

Black Moss and Saul Goode show a deeper understanding of life as they delve into different topics with the same amount of introspection and sincerity as previously. On New Kicks, track 5 off of Midnight Snacks, Chefs Moss and Goode take a brutally honest approach as they rap about the difficulties in accepting that all of life’s trials are ultimately experienced and dealt with on one’s own. “You need empathy, I’m trying / And if I could, I’d walk a mile but your shoes are not my size, girl / It hurts to see you hurting / Maybe all the answers lie with a different person and that person is you / And that person’s got a lot of self-loving to do / ‘Cause I can’t love you for the both of us”, Black Moss expresses over a jazzy MJ Nichols production with the hook further emphasizing that “in the end, you gon’ wear them soles out on your own.” They take a similar, unclichéd slant on Baker’s Dozen with the subject matter now ranging from drugs and love to political and social commentary and critique – more specifially on the grimey, call-and-response-styled 2KFYG and Giant – as the cooks address xenophobia, racial inequality, police brutality and almost every other topic that most artists tend to steer clear of when making a kick-back-and-vibe-out-after-a-long-day album, with the accompaniment of fun and quirky delivery.

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A very central theme on Baker’s Dozen is love – the selflessness of it and the power of it – and with this love comes the reminder that, regardless of upbringing and influences, the love for music is one of the few things that can surpass borders and bring people together – a sentiment continually prevailing in any Part Time Cooks joint. “They love me ‘cause I love this music more than me,” Saul Goode spits on Loser/Cameo, one of the most honest standout tracks on the project, along with grappling with the vices that are repeatedly faced in trying to focus on the music despite the distractions. “Shoulda been blown two or three times off of spitting / All the opportunities that I was given / But it threw it all away chasing booze and these women,” Goode humbly raps over a smooth beat to which he later adds: “Maybe that’s why 9th Wonder never called me up / Maybe I’m not as dope as I thought I was / Should have capitalized when I got that buzz / Should have paid for promos instead of copping drugs.”

The reinforcement of universal inclination towards hip-hop on Keep Cooking; the smooth melodies; the jazz-fused boom bap beats; the unconventional flows used; the punchlines on Get Home Safe such as Saul rapping “My pants sagging, too many rappers on my belt this year”; the catchy hook on Everyday Everything; the plain-spoken life experiences and truths rapped about on Superior and witty story-telling on Dutch Pay and Secret Love (Snuggle Song) make for a timeless overtone that should keep fans happy for quite a while.

Stream Baker’s Dozen below and share your thoughts on the project with me and with the cooks themselves.

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