Chuck Inglish has been one of my favorites in the rap game since The Cool Kids dropped Totally Flossed Out EP in 2007 and “Black Mags” exploded throughout the country. Six years ago. Back when hip-hop allowed bright colors. Back when Ed Banger artists held parties alongside backpack rappers. The Cool Kids fit right in and songs like “Delivery Man” and “Pennies” turned into college party necessities. But, despite their large output and history, at the end of the day, when I think about The Cool Kids, I think about their hynotic chopped and screwed chorus that my friend and I will never stop repeating: WIDDALIDDABIDDAGOLDANNUHPAGEUHHH.
The Cool Kids dropped countless classic projects, like 2010′s near-flawless Tacklebox and their often overlooked 2009 Merry Christmas EP. But because of label trouble and their name growing larger than either one of the two members, their only retail release, 2012′s When Fish Ride Bicycles, suffered delays and mixed reviews. Both Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish broke free from the Cool moniker and did their own thing for a while: Mike went to Miami and found himself alongside Curren$y and the Jet Life scene, dropping countless mixtapes, none of which are uninteresting. Chuck went to California and linked up with artists like Mac Miller and Ab-Soul, releasing back-to-back beat tapes, WRKOUT and WRKNG, and even fully producing projects for other artists (Gift Raps by Chip tha Ripper, Candy Jams by 10ille).
Inglish returned to Chicago last week, his first time doing so since playing Lollapalooza with Mike and The O’My’s back in 2011. I spoke with him before the show, backstage with some friends and Detroit rapper Boldy James, his cousin and his opener for the night. Chuck has his weekend duffle bag full of new clothes by his side, including a bright yellow Chuck Inglish windbreaker that says Started on the back instead of Starter. He shows off three pairs of kicks as well as a hoodie featuring the artwork of an old Master P album. As he shows off some new fresh outfits and orders food from the venue, we chat about everything from fashion to chili mac to his upcoming album, Convertibles.
“How has 2013 been treating you?” I ask him.
“Weird as fuck, bro.” He puts on his sunglasses, a pair he keeps on the rest of the night. “An interesting weird, though. I’m not mad about it. It involved certain tests of patience. I created an album this year that I think can affect the world. Your path becomes hardened if the world knows you’ve done good. But my mentality has been pretty much the same since fifth grade. I’m focusing on pure experience instead of thinking I know everything.”
In 2012, Chuck released WRKOUT and WRKNG: two beat tapes. That year, we didn’t see much rapping from him. “Do your raps come in waves?” I ask.
“I’m constantly rapping. We had just put out When Fish Ride Bicycles. I didn’t have anything else to say. I pretty much keep to myself. I’m not much of an extrovert. Now it’s different. My purpose is different. I’m making music I know the people need. I’m rapping about shit I usually don’t rap about. Life issues. Drugs. Real-life stories.”
Chuck talks about being behind the boards, about wanting to produce a whole project for Mikey. He tells me he is working with some new artists as well, but before he can list them, Boldy James swings by with a joint in his hand. Chuck mentions to him how he slept during the entire plane flight to Chicago.
“I love burnin’ up before a flight,” Boldy says, taking a puff and passing it to Chuck, looking down at Chuck’s shoes, a rainbow pair of Lebron’s. “Them cold, bro. Anybody who been rockin’ them bitches is cold.”
Chuck returns his attention back to the interview, albeit a bit hazier. “Whatever happened to Pulled Over by the Cops?” I ask, referring to a super group consisting of The Cool Kids, Freddie Gibbs, Bun B, King Chip, and production duo Blended Babies.
“That’s still official. It’s hard to get a ton of niggas to rap at the same time. I like organization. I don’t like featured-featured-featured. But it’s still real. Me, Chip, Bun, Freddie.”
“’Oil Money’ might be my favorite posse cut ever,” I tell him.
Chuck nods and begins talking about his early years with hip-hop, with meeting Rich Gains and JP Keller (Blended Babies) and creating hip-hop seriously for the first time. The three of them have an album in the works called Ev Zeppelin, with Chuck rapping and Blended Babies producing.
“I’ve known Blended since college. Since the dorms. Some of my first beats were on Rich’s computer. All The Cool Kids stuff, too.”
Chuck was born around Detroit, made it big in Chicago, and is now in LA. After the Chicago show, Chuck is going to Columbus, Ohio for a Cool Kids concert, then back to L.A. until Christmas. I ask him what he considers home.
“Detroit’s where I’m from. Chicago’s where I grew up. LA’s where I work. I love where I’m from. People have this image of Detroit, but it’s not like that for me. Home is home.”
Someone comes down to the green room where we are interviewing and puts a camera in Chuck’s face. “What’s good, Chuck?” he asks. Chuck smiles behind his sunglasses, cooler than anyone else in the room.
“Ain’t no servants down here, man,” he laughs.
Caleb James arrives and takes a seat across from Chuck, listening and laughing while he eats Chipotle that he brought to the venue. “Nigga you got a fro and shit?” he says when he first sees Chuck. “What’s goin’ on?” They both laugh like old friends.
I ask Chuck how he began working with people in Los Angeles like Mac Miller, the TDE crew, and Dom Kennedy.
“People had hella respect for The Cool Kids. Took Dom on the road with us. I linked with Mac and them and was interested in how they worked. The relaxation and vibe is really official. It’s easy to talk to them, easy to work.”
Not since When Fish Ride Bicycles have The Cool Kids done anything together. Sure, a handful of shows and the new(er) song “Swervin”, but I ask Chuck if anything official is in the future for them.
“Yeah, yeah. I didn’t feel like I was in control anymore,” he begins. “The bigger it got, the less control I had. But we ain’t done shit yet. Mikey inspired me, doing this shit on my own. There’s no tellin’ what we’ll do next.”
While I talk with Chuck, Boldy James is shaving in the green room bathroom, walking out from time to time with a good story. He mentions the first time he went down to Atlanta to record at the Stankonia Studios. “Me and Peechie (Green) was down there and Big Boi comes out and says, ‘Y’all niggas in here stealin’ our WiFi?’” Everyone laughs and Boldy just smiles, decked out in a red jacket, a Bulls hat, and a pair of FILAs.
When Chuck’s food comes out, he looks around for something not present. “Where’s my chili mac?” he asks. The waiter runs away almost immediately to go put in the missed order for the night’s main attraction.
“That’s the first thing they tell you in the clinker,” Boldy says, shaking his head, “don’t eat the chili mac.”
Before we finish the interview, Chuck talks again about Convertibles, his proper debut solo release. “Convertibiles. February. Life changes then. You see me now, I’ma be swaggin’ on the fuckin’ world when that shit drop. It’s a mission.”
On top of his endless upcoming projects, Chuck tells me about his mixtape concept called Tapes out the Trunk. “That bitch gon’ go for five volumes in three years. It’s the hardest shit I’ve rapped. All drums. Some shit don’t have hooks.”
I thank Chuck and tell him that he gave me some great responses to my questions. “I give the best interviews in the world,” he says. “I don’t give a fuck, dawg.”- neonpajamas