Old school is the new cool

The Cool Kids are two Chicago hip-hop MCs look­ing back to a time of gold chains, fat laces, su­per­fly sneak­ers, Run DMC and Eric B & Rakim. They may owe their suc­cess to work­ing the mu­sic in­dus­try like it’s 2008, but they’re ready to party like it’s 1988,

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

THE COOL Kids are here to get all Marty McFly on your ass. They are two su­per­fly MCs sta­tioned in the Windy City who be­lieve that hip-hop’s best days were in the past – and they want to go back to those hal­cyon days.

Back to a time of gold chains, pagers, block par­ties, Run DMC, fat laces, su­per­fly sneak­ers, BMX bikes and Eric B & Rakim. Back to those days be­fore gangsta rap, Kanye West and Fiddy. Back to when hiphop was much more in­no­cent than what it has be­come in 2008.

Justin Tim­ber­lake may want to bring sexy back, but the Cool Kids, they want to bring 1988 back. They’re the new school of the old school.

The duo who rhyme that they are “the new black ver­sion of the Beastie Boys” are Mikey Rocks (AKA An­toine Reed) and Chuck (Evan Inger­soll). They have a sim­ple blue­print when it comes to mak­ing peo­ple holler with ex­cite­ment.

They rap over heavy­weight, lowslung bass bumpers not heard since EPMD were in their prime. Hell, th­ese beats even sound a lit­tle like EPMD, yet the Cool Kids were not even born when this style was in full flow the first time around.

Mikey says his par­ents are one rea­son why he is so in thrall to that golden era of sucker MCs. “I grew up on this stuff,” says Mikey. “As soon as I was born, I was hear­ing hip-hop. My par­ents never said ‘You can’t lis­ten to that!’ They would put in any­thing when I was lit­tle. They would play tapes in the car or in the house, and I heard it and I liked it. Luck­ily, they had good taste in mu­sic so I grew up lis­ten­ing to the good stuff.”

It made sense that Mikey would even­tu­ally want to make his own tunes. He started rap­ping when he was eight years of age, be­fore try­ing his hand at pro­duc­ing beats. “About two or three years ago, when I was 16 or so, I started mess­ing around at home with beats and got hooked right away. I had been writ­ing rhymes for a while, but I just wasn’t feel­ing rap mu­sic at the time, so I put that on the shelf and just got crazy into mak­ing beats.”

This led him to Chuck, who had a beat on his MyS­pace page which Mikey was in­ter­ested in us­ing. The pair met up, found that they had a lot in com­mon and de­cided to work to­gether.

It has turned out to be a strong part­ner­ship. “There’s two dif­fer­ent perspectives with us,” ex­plains Mikey. “We don’t rap the same way or think the same way or even look at things the same way. But it’s the dif­fer­ences which make it all work. We’re both do­ing ex­actly what we need to do. We have re­spect for


each other but what we do has to work for The Cool Kids too.”

When it came to cut­ting tracks, Mikey and Chuck didn’t have far to look for in­spi­ra­tion. “Of course, I can’t deny it, we def­i­nitely take some of the el­e­ments of old school hip-hop where peo­ple used to have fun and party,” says Mikey. “But we also take el­e­ments from other types of mu­sic as well.

“I’m not a big fan of re­do­ing some­thing that’s al­ready been done just be­cause it was suc­cess­ful back then.”

Since their first tracks be­gan to ap­pear on­line, the re­sponse has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. The hip-hop, indie and pop com­mu­ni­ties have all found some­thing about the duo to cham­pion, and word about them has quickly spread.

The pair have con­ducted a bit of a mas­ter­class in how to har­ness MyS­pace, blogs and on­line tools to get your tracks and name out there.

“The in­ter­net is so pow­er­ful that you can pretty much run a whole cam­paign for a band with it,” says Mikey. “There was also a lot of word of mouth about us, but the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the in­ter­net which al­lows peo­ple to dis­cover new mu­sic was our big­gest ally. We don’t need ra­dio to break our records –MyS­pace has be­come that ra­dio show. We don’t need la­bels ei­ther to get off the ground be­cause the in­ter­net has elim­i­nated the need for that mid­dle­man.”

Yet the duo also re­alise that you some­times need help to keep the show on the road. They have signed a deal with XL to re­lease the new The Bake Sale EP, and they’ll prob­a­bly do some­thing sim­i­lar for the album When Fish Ride Bi­cy­cles, due to drop later in the year.

Mikey is fully aware that they could eas­ily have be­come just an­other on­line here-to­day-gone-to­mor- row phe­nom­e­non. “It could have hap­pened, for sure,” he says. “We could have been seen as a gim­mick, or we could have taken ad­van­tage of some of the of­fers to do re­ally wack cor­po­rate stuff which came our way.

“But if we did that, our au­di­ence would have gone away from us and dissed us for giv­ing up our in­tegrity like that.

“To be hon­est, though, we’re past the stage where we’re just some fad. I think that if we were a gim­mick, we would have been found out. I think a gim­mick has a cou­ple months be­fore peo­ple work it out. We’ve paid our dues, we’re stick­ing around.”

Back to the fu­ture: Mikey Rocks and Chuck of Cool Kids

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