With a throwback sound and retro style more likened to the era of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing than that of today's typical rap group, it's safe to say that the Cool Kids are not your average MCs. The duo of Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks, who have been carving out quite the name for themselves among fresh-faced hip-hoppers and hipsters alike on the Chicago indie circuit, are gearing up to serve the masses a batch of their freshest goods in the form of their debut effort, The Bake Sale, on C.A.K.E. Recordings. With a cult following that swears by their every rhyme, the Chicago-based group is doing it their way and loving it.
“We are the group that hates labels,” says rapper/producer Inglish. “Personally, we think we can do whatever we want,” chimes in Rocks. The two adamantly express their defiance and desire to not follow the norm. Never to be mistaken for thugs with microphones, the Cool Kids are leading the charge of avant-garde hip-hop that embraces a simpler back-to-basics ethos that would much rather get the party started than a beef going.
“If you're a black dude, people think you gotta be a certain way. Before I get done, black kids are going to know that you can do what you wanna do,” Rocks says. “You don't have to be boxed into this hood-rap formula. You don't have to be pushed into this ‘black- guy box.’ That's probably killed a lot of talent.”
Chuch Inglish (left) and Mikey Rocks
Photo: Huy Doan
With their industry buzz very much alive, the two have gained a reputation by releasing a series of singles via the 'net, including “Gold and a Pager” and the homage to hip-hop's golden age, “88.” Known for their minimalist production style and chopped-and-screwed hooks, the group says that while they do have a signature sound, fans and critics alike should never expect the same ‘ole thing from these Kids.
“People think they've got us figured out — what beats, what drums, what synths we're going to use. But trust me, you won't just hear the same shit,” Rocks explains.
“We always wanna keep [people] wondering what we're going to do next. That's how you get people to go and buy your next album,” admits Inglish, who handled the bulk of the production on The Bake Sale using Propellerhead Reason and an MXL 990 mic. “It's kind of like the pursuit of dope shit. I dig for sounds and drums and keys that can paint a full picture. A lot of [the production] that's stripped down wasn't that way in the beginning. I'll listen and say, ‘Do I really need this snare, or does it really need this?’ A lot of people are surprised that I do everything with Reason. It has everything I need. I could make the same beat with an MPC, but I don't like all the clicking. I'm the king of convenience. I'd use whatever else, but I like Reason for what we do.”
With progressive hip-hop heads eagerly awaiting The Bake Sale, Inglish and Rocks gleam at the possibility that their formula of left-field beats and rhymes may be the next significant movement in hip-hop. But whether they begin a revolution of like-minded mic rockers or not, the two assure that fans can definitely expect the unexpected with the disc.
“I wish I could take a picture and send it to you…that's the feel of the record,” says Rocks elusively. Inglish explains the set a little further: “It's not a stretch to the kids that really wanna be different. We wanna make sure that they know that somebody understands them. It's something that hasn't happened in a long time, if not ever. It's something that'll last, and you'll [look back and] remember where you were and what you were doing from this album.”