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The Cool Kids - Super Fresh Dope Pedalers

Author: Nick Jarvis
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Mikey Rocks and Chuck English are The Cool Kids, and they're bringing '88 back - the golden era of hip hop, with bass heavy beats, dope man attire and raps about riding bmxs. 3D's Nick Jarvis screwed on his stunt pegs for a chat with chuck.

Lupe Fiasco did it in 2006, bursting into the mainstream with his anthem to skateboarding, Kick Push. Now in '08 Illinois duo The Cool Kids are causing tizzies of hype all around the world with their ode to the BMX, Black Mags. But while Kanye's protégé favours orchestral production and message-lyrics, the Cool Kids are all about bumpin' bass heavy classic tunes and an ethos straight out of an early Spike Lee movie.

With their debut, the Totally Flossed Out EP, featuring in many Best of 07 lists, and their second EP The Bake Sale due to drop very soon, it's a fitting time for the Cool Kids to make their debut trip down under, for the boutique Laneway Festival. Squeezing in some Australian media duties before a couple of shows in New York, Chuck drawls down the line to me in a lazy Chi-town accent, relating the story of how he and Mikey came to hook up via MySpace.

“What basically happened was that we were a lot alike, we saw that we were each doing what the other wanted to do, so that just made things work. We had the same tastes in music,” Chuck says. “He was doing production and I was doing production, making beats, and Mikey was rapping. I never really got into that and then he and I were working together and I started practicing more and getting better at it until I got OK enough to drop a verse.”

So who was it that inspired the duos smooth, enunciated flows- For Chuck, a mentor was closer to home than you might imagine.

“I learnt how to rap from listening to Mikey,” Chuck says. “I kinda liked the way he did it, so I'd listen to him and then put my own twist on it, and so that's where I'm at right now. But with other rappers, the one I look up to most is Andre 3000, he's monumental. Him and everyone from the old school, all the guys I listened to growing up, they just did really cool shit.”

With two EPs of Rick Rubin-esque beats behind them - the kind of tunes “we like to bump in our car”, as Chuck puts it - the question is, what do they have planned for their debut LP, due to drop early this year-

“With the album it's gonna be all kinds of shit. It's gonna break your minds,” Chuck enthuses. “We're not like, stretching the boundaries on purpose, it's just what had to happen. We're on our own style, so we had to do some new shit. That's our whole motto. Respecting what each other is doing, you know, I mean a lot of time with raps I'm just tearing my hair trying to write it, we want to make sure we write stuff that people haven't heard. What we're trying to do is make sure that it's an album that'll stand up in five or ten years, the kind of album where people say 'oh, ok, what the fuck are they gonna do next-'”

The success of Black Mags and 88 has seen Chuck and Mikey touring practically non-stop for the past few months and into the next year, a gruelling tour timetable that would wear down the hardiest rock star - but the buzz is still strong for Chuck.

“The party shit is wearing me out, but the shows are still the shit, they're the best part,” he says. “I've never woken up and thought, 'oh damn, I have a show tonight' - I always look forward to it 'cause it's the people that dig our music, and whatever you give us we'll give it back twice. I mean the partying and the girls is cool, but it ain't the show. If you wanna party all the time and all that and let your music get shit then you go right ahead, but that's not us.

“Yo, we just want people to listen to our stuff. All that getting famous, making millions, all that shit can wait till later, right now when it's time to jam, it's time to jam.”

For their first visit to Oz Chuck has a very specific game plan - “not to get eaten by a shark or stung by a jelly fish. That's all I want, if I can avoid that then I think I'll fall in love with your country. I mean, I saw this documentary on the jellyfish and how you can't see them and shit - I mean, I do not fuck with deadly animals.

Maybe not deadly animals, but what about the edible kind- I ask Chuck if he's still sticking with his vow of vegetarianism (taken after a friend sent him information on farming practices)-

“Hey, you know what, I mean, I try but I genuinely love meat, I was eating meat for like 20 years, and sometimes chicken wings just look really good. Pork and all that, I can live without, but chicken - that's another story…”

WHO: The Cool Kids
WHAT: Play Oxford Art Factory / Laneway Festival
WHEN: Friday 29 February / Sunday 2 March