The Cool kids are a rap group consisting of members Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks. They recently released their new mixtape, Gone Fishing, on their website for free.
Epilogue: Tell me about the creative process on When Fish Ride Bicycles. Chuck, you’re doing the production, is there anything you’re playing around with now?
Chuck: Everything. You know everything is new. We don’t recycle anything.
I’ve been hearing 808 Projections from some unlikely groups, why do you think there’s been a rekindled interest in using drum machines?
Chuck: You know it’s the key, so much bass and so much dynamic. They’ll never get old; you’ve just got to find different ways to use them. It’s the same as a normal drum set you know.
What sources do you guys draw from for creativity?
Mikey: With me, it’s everything that surrounds me. What’s around me, who I’m talking to, just anything I’ve run into on some regular everyday shit. It’s all about what’s happening around me or how I’m feeling. I don’t have any specific sources of inspiration. I don’t have to watch a movie to get inspired or visit a gallery. It kind of happens like randomly you know what I’m saying? I just run into random shit that gets me hyped and gets me writing so it’s all about wherever I’m at. I like doing new things, keeping my mind active because that’s where I get all my rhymes.
You pay homage to Chicago and Detroit respectively, but primacy of place doesn’t seem to come out in your music like other MCs. “When Fish Ride Bicycles” was called a mix of “Aquemini” and “The Chronic” for example. Do you think increased interconnectedness in terms of availability of music has affected music regionalism? What position do you guys take?
Mikey: When I was young, my parents took us to a lot of places and I got to see a lot of different stuff so I don’t feel confined to just Chicago. Like I know a lot about it, and I have a certain place in my heart for it, but I sing a lot of other stuff. So I’m not confined to feeling like I’ve got to just rap a certain Chicago or Midwest style. I’m kind of in the process now of creating my own type of flow and my own type of rhyme scheme that hasn’t been used before.
How would you describe this process?
Mikey: It’s kind of like a bunch of cooks in the kitchen, and there’s different recipes for the same cake. But I found a new way to make my cake, you know what I mean, it’s cake, but I made my own recipe and the shit tastes awesome.
Are you bringing any new ingredients to the table?
Mikey: It’s like ingredients that haven’t been used in this cake before. Nobody has really discovered any new ingredients growing outside the kitchen, it’s not like there’s a new pepper coming out next spring or anything like that, but I’m taking my ingredients and using them in a different may to make the cake.
Your stuff is out there, commercials, Entourage, video games, but the name “The Cool Kids” isn’t necessarily readily attached to its use. Where do you guys like to be in terms of exposure?
Mikey: I don’t want to ever be overexposed man, like that’s a fear of mine. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of different people and you know it hurts more than it helps in the long run. You know, if you get in people’s face too much, they’ll get pissed off and I don’t want that. I like to keep my distance and my space. I don’t want to get too famous because that’s when shit gets in the way.
At this point in your careers, what else do the both of you want to experience?
Mikey: I’m just focusing on today, that and the next album. I’m looking forward to what it sounds like overall. We’re sort of crafting it now and getting the feel of it together. Songs are coming from here and there. It’s like verses here and hooks there, so I’m just waiting to see what the overall picture looks like. It’s going to be crazy. You know, we’ve gotten a lot better since yesterday so I feel like we get better everyday.
We talked about being regional earlier, how about being seasonal, do you set deadlines for yourselves?
Chuck: You see the thing is that you make music constantly. Like it’s not time sensitive to when it hits people. You can’t put music out that was intended to hit people at a certain time. If I intend for something to come out in the summer, like the summer of ’09, people can always look back and be like this is the summer of ’09, like any other album. It doesn’t get old, but you [the artist] know when it came out. Every album that comes out has some sort of weight and long lasting longevity; everyone knows when it came out so there’s not an argument about when it came out. So they geared that to that time, it was the time they were going through and it was when they were going to put it out. We’ve done that a couple of times, we just didn’t have the luxury of putting it out due to paperwork complications and shit that we’re going through, that do it yourself labels would have to go through so now we’re starting it over because this one, it wont matter, we’re just going to completely abolish that whole idea of when it comes out because with this one, it wont matter. You want it to be so good that you don’t even give a fuck, (laughs) I mean we give a fuck, we tried to do a Summer of ’09 music twice, the past two album cycles, we’ve made this shit two times. This next one is overly, it’s overly, it’s over, it’s five times the shit we were doing last time. It’s like you gave us too much time so we’re not going to get worse, were only going to get better and the more you hold us back, the more dangerous we’re going to get. It’s like telling a basketball player you can’t get into the game but you can stay in the gym and practice and be ready for when you get into the game and you’re just going to be way too good.
What’s your attitude towards record sales?
Mikey: It doesn’t matter; you don’t get paid off that shit anyway. The album sales, I mean that’s nothing. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s just that the state of the world and the state of technology right now, record sales is something that’s not going to be your cash cow. Things change. It’s not how it was ten years ago but that’s how it is now, so you’ve just got to let go of thinking that that’s going to be your big paycheck. So I’m not really tripping over album sales or anything like ever, because you know it’s not a measure of how good you are, it’s a measure of how much promotion money you spent and how much money you spent to get spins on the radio.
How do you guys approach the business as a whole?
Mikey: I kind of look at it as, I’ve got a job and there are a lot of different musicians I mine is making that cool shit. You know that’s my job right now: I’m making that cool shit, I’m making that clever shit, I’m making shit that sounds good, and I’m NICE. I’m going to continue practicing and get better and better. I feel like I’m making my own lane and I’m going to stay in my lane and I don’t need to jump into anyone else’s lane. I feel like I’m creating my own niche.
It’s just fun. It’s sort of like a video game. There’s a whole scenario that goes along with it. There’s levels, there’s opponents, there’s bosses. It’s fun to see our progress and it’s fun to see ourselves get better and be able to do more with your words and speech, so it’s a game in that aspect. I like challenging myself to see how good I can actually get.
Do you listen to other artists to know where you stack?
Mikey: No, you don’t have to listen to other people to know what you’re doing is good or different. This whole rapping thing is my outlook, my perspective of the world and what’s going on, what I’ve seen. That’s all everything is, just your perspective. If your good at this, you’re just talking, you’re just telling people what you’re feeling like.
How do you measure your progress? For me it’s a slippery slope, you know, you need and don’t need external validation.
Mikey: Yeah it’s both, but if I gave you a rap that I wrote two years ago and then I rapped a rap that I wrote yesterday and asked you which one was better, 9 times out of 10 its going to be like damn, the second one!
Right, but, at least for me, there’s always a little bit of doubt initially.
Mikey: Right, yeah this is a self-loathing thing we got into with this writing shit, it’s difficult but it’s fun too because it’s limitless. With signing and shit, there’s a limit. There are certain notes you can hit and certain patterns you can sing at—there’s a box with singing. But with rapping, there’s no rules whatsoever, so there’s no limit to how good you can get.
Yeah and no limit means non-stop practicing.
Mikey: It’s definitely a practice, you’ve definitely got to be honest with yourself because some people think they’re ridiculous, they’re fucking crazy, but they’re really not that good. So you’ve got to be honest with yourself and open-minded and just kind of always checking yourself because if you get lost within your own mind, then you lose touch with anyone around you.
But that feeling you get after you get it…
Mikey: Oh yeah, if you nice, then you NICE, and you know it too man. It’s a real good feeling. So yeah we just like to see how good we can get and I don’t think we have a cap on how good we’re actually going to get.
—The Cool Kids
Photo By Clayton Hauck