US Placers released May 27, 2007
Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom) released June 6, 2008
Don’t Stop! released October 8, 2010
Child Rebel Soldier 2007-2013
I decided to do something a little different here, because Child Rebel Soldier is a group whose history is generally more interesting than their extremely small catalogue, so we’ll be covering them as a whole here, instead of doing overly short write-ups for each of their three tracks.
Supergroups are a common fixture in the music world, as big artists that know and are familiar with each other are bound to work together at some point. The hip-hop genre is no exception to this.
In 2007, Lupe Fiasco was working on a mixtape and produced “Us Placers,” initially intending for Kanye West and Mike Skinner of The Streets to appear on the track alongside him. However, Skinner never responded to Fiasco’s inquiries, while West showed the track to Pharrell Williams and got a verse from him instead. When the track appeared on West’s 2007 mixtape Can’t Tell Me Nothing, the track was credited to the three of them under the name “Child Rebel Soldier,” serving as the group’s first release.
“Us Placers” is a strong hip-hop track, with a fuzzy, repetitive piano beat serving as the backdrop for Fiasco, West, and Pharrell, as well as sampling Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser,” in the chorus, giving the track an interesting dream-like quality as the three artists describe opulent lifestyles and the price of fame, with Pharrell in particular musing about the motivations behind the Virginia Tech Massacre. The song did so well that the three artists began working out a way to put out an album together, with talk of the album coming up sporadically over the next three years.
Child Rebel Soldier resurfaced in 2008, with Fiasco and West appearing alongside Pusha T on a remix of N.E.R.D.’s “Everyone Nose,” credited as Child Rebel Soldier. The remix opens with West, followed up with Pharrell’s usual verse, closing out with Pusha T and then Fiasco, all four of them rapping about snorting cocaine at a club, with the song’s full title in itself a reference to that. The track adds a beat specifically designed for the song to get airplay at clubs, matching it subject matter.
And that’s it. The song did alright, but it’s a remix, and not much was made of the fact that Child Rebel Soldier reunited on the track. It did get its own music video, though, so at least there’s that.
The fabled debut album continued to not exist before and after this track’s release, the only mention of it being when Kanye West alluded to it being a project he was looking at around the time of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s release. The Graduation tour did feature both Pharrell (with N.E.R.D.) and Fiasco as opening acts, but nothing came of this during the tour.
The last act of Child Rebel Soldier came in 2010, as part of West’s “G.O.O.D. Fridays” initiative, where he essentially assembled a hype mixtape by releasing a track every Friday in anticipation of the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Child Rebel Soldier’s track, entitled “Don’t Stop,” is faster-paced and more aggressive than the previous two tracks, with all three members self-aggrandizing throughout their respective verses and not doing much else beyond metaphorically flexing their rap game muscles. Fiasco’s verse in particular is quite impressive, as he’s rapping very quickly without tripping over his words or slowing down even a bit throughout his entire verse.
The track’s release fueled speculation that Child Rebel Soldier had been working on new material and that an album would finally see release. However, West shot down those expectations when he revealed that the song dated back to their only recording session in 2008, and that it was only released because it worked well for the G.O.O.D. Fridays initiative.
The group fell silent once again immediately after this, and no news came to light until 2013, where Fiasco responded to a tweet about the group, announcing that they had dissolved and would not be working together again, dashing hopes of a Child Rebel Soldier album ever coming to fruition. The group disbanded as it came together – spontaneously, without any real hype or reasoning.
I would have liked to see an album come to light. West, Fiasco, and Pharrell are all talented rappers, and they complemented each other well on the three tracks they put out together. But West has transcended Fiasco and Pharrell as a rapper, and Pharrell has moved more towards production than making his own music, while Fiasco’s lyrics and themes no longer mesh with West and Pharrell.
Like many supergroups that come together, Child Rebel Soldier was a victim of its members’ solo careers. Nothing, after all, can withstand the might of West and Fiasco’s combined egos – not even Pharrell and his terrible fashion sense.