Gym Class Heroes, As Cruel as Schoolchildren (2006)
On As Cruel as Schoolchildren, New York rap band Gym Class Heroes uproots hip-hop traditions with rock music, good-time pop grooves, and whatever sound suits its fancy. Unlike fellow iconoclasts Atmosphere and Fort Minor, however, this horndog quartet eschews self-analysis and socio-cultural rhymes. In the words of rapper and front man Travis McCoy, “We put the FU back in fun.” On “Clothes Off!!!” the band lifts the chorus from Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.” There’s no time for chastity; most of Gym Class Heroes’ songs, in true pop-punk tradition, concern girls and sex. “You caught me at the most pivotal moment/So now I’m emailing my love with a dozen digital roses,” raps McCoy on “New Friend Request,” a song about picking up chicks on MySpace. Elsewhere, he harmonizes like Slim Kid Tre on “Viva La White Girl,” and rhymes a cappella on “Sloppy Love Jingle Pts. 1-3.” His verbal gymnastics are mildly entertaining and as flimsy as a pair of Converse sneakers. As Cruel as Schoolchildren was released on Decaydance, a label owned by Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. The Warner-owned imprint Fueled by Ramen handled distribution. Within months, the album was re-released with “Cupid’s Chokehold,” which featured Stump on the chorus. The song became a Billboard top five hit and turned McCoy into a pop-punk sex symbol.