The Cool Kids, a duo composed of Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll, are back. While some may have no idea what that even means, those who won’t be awarded proper late passes have a lot to be excited about.
Gaining momentum using a medium we all low-key miss tremendously, the Chicago wunderkind rappers first joined forces in 2007, perhaps to appease die-hard hipster fans of underground music that were craving something completely out of left field. With an Internet era defined by the addiction of discovering music that gloriously existed on the fringes of the Internet, by way of scouring for low-quality MP3 downloads, the group began to make a name for themselves way before putting out their first album. As the group capitalized on a movement so many of us are now hopelessly nostalgic for, the late 2000s were a time where fans’ voices not only were heard, but they were also the loudest in the room. It was an uprising rebel-yell of a trend that the Cool Kids totally understood how to use to their advantage.
During a time when you really had to seek out music and put effort into scanning personal blog pages to find the next dope artist, the pre-Twitter era allowed music fans to take control over deciding what was up next and what wasn’t—a natural ability that defines who the Cool Kids are and what they are all about at their core. With experimental sampling drawing from video games, ‘80s hip-hop-era drum machines and other feel-good-weirdness alike, the group created a distinctive forward-thinking sound that promptly captivated a cult-like following and inspired a new generation of unprecedented DIY creativity.
For many, the Cool Kids were not only one of the first breakthrough artists you got to know online—and in turn felt like you were best friends with the whole time they were rising to prominence—they represented something bigger. It was the official shift of the “nerd” becoming the “coolest” in the room, achieving such a feat solely by being themselves and taking calculated risks, albeit carelessly. Hailed as Internet fan-favorites, their quirky 2008 mixtape The Bake Sale gloriously represented everything they achieved in a short amount of time, fully capitalizing on the power the no-parents MySpace era fostered. With a generous handful of incredible collaborations over the years, including working with the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Maroon 5, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, and Curren$y, the rapper-producer duo covered an insane amount of ground despite their 2011 debut studio album not finding the same successes their self-released mixtapes had.
Although the road to their comeback was previously permanently closed off—with Chuck Inglish declaring on Twitter that the group would never return—as time went on, it just didn’t sit right. The two members promptly ended their hiatus in 2015 and have been slowly-but-surely returning to the spotlight once again, patiently working towards reminding everyone why they previously were fondly referred to as the originators. With the promise of their new album arriving sometime this Summer, a brand new sketch comedy series titled “Shit Show” and plenty of surprises in store, the Cool Kids are plotting the next installment of their takeover.
While it may have taken them a decade to get to this point of reclaiming what is rightfully theirs again, both can agree that mastering the art of timing is one of those sneaky 48 Laws of Power that still applies to millennials. Considering everything the Cool Kids have been through and have yet to achieve, there’s no better time than right now to dive right back into it. And with both middle fingers up, no less.
How have things been going since you began rolling out your comeback?
Chuck Inglish: It’s actually been way better this time around. It’s like if you were good at sports in one grade, and you come back to school the next year, you’re just way better at everything. It feels like we weren’t as good then as we are now, so it’s definitely been really exciting.
Do you think fans should revisit your old material to get an idea of what you’re doing now or is this an entirely fresh start? Why now?
Chuck Inglish: I would say our new single “TV Dinner” is a good representation of what we’re about these days. I don’t think it’s necessary to listen to the old stuff to get what we’re doing now.
It was just time for it. You have to have a good spirit of timing when you’re doing anything artistic. It’s all about timing right now; it just feels right. We wanted to give people time to appreciate what we were doing and understand that we’re moving forward again. We had enough time to do things on our own and go in our own directions, which was definitely good for both of us. But now it’s like, so many things have happened in rap music from 2011 to now that you can kind of tell what was missing. Maybe some people weren’t fully getting what it was we tried to do the first time and that might be different this time around. We are owners of our masters again and our name again. At this point, we know what we are doing in our careers and we have everything we started with. Now it’s about knowing how we want to display our music, what song we want people to hear first, that kind of thing. It’s all about the details. What we did the first time around was a lot of really amazing accidents, if you know what I mean. Now we have a tighter grip on what we’re doing. Between the two of us, we know what’s cool and what’s not cool, what works and what doesn’t work. We definitely have more of a specific plan now and more goals.
At this point in the year, what does your day-to-day look like?
Chuck Inglish: We’re just working on the album every day. If we aren’t technically working on the music, we’re doing something else related to it. Once this is done, I’ll be able to create a routine again and like, read the newspaper, drink tea and spend less time on the Internet [laughs]. But right now, my life is completely dedicated to this and making sure that this album is something I know that I can feel proud of. Right now, I feel that way, but you know, we still have to finish it. We’re thinking sometime in the Summer will be our best bet. It definitely has a summertime feel and it will only make sense that we put it out in the summer.
How has your new comedy series, “Shit Show” been going?
Sir Michael Rocks: I feel like it’s something that we should have always been doing. We’re just a group of people that funny stuff just always happens to all the time. We got a lot of funny stories and experiences, along with just being funny people off top.
At this point, we have a lot of material filmed and edited, with more stuff being edited. We’re going to arrange it so that it can be a full series. We’d like to take this to a bigger audience and are looking to work with a larger partner. Whatever medium or network we end up going with, it’ll definitely be on your screen pretty soon. In the meantime, we’re just working on editing and putting out clips and content. We’ve been shooting for a couple months now and have some crazy episodes on deck. We’re just sitting on footage and having a little bidding war to see what will be the best fit.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out?
Chuck Inglish: I’m having more fun now than I was having then so just knowing that it’s about enjoying the journey and appreciating how long it takes to make something happen that you once dreamed of. Even if it seems overnight, it’s never overnight or out of nowhere. We’ve been keeping something afloat for the past ten years that’s artistic, so just knowing we have the ability to weather the storm. Right now, it’s like we’re living out in real time what we had expected to have happen the first time around. Except back then, we didn’t have as many goals and we didn’t expect everything to happen so fast. Now that we know what we’re capable of, it’s easier to set goals and see them out. And we know how important it is to have control over what we are doing so we can actually reap the benefits. What keeps us going is just knowing that there’s still a lot to be accomplished.
How connected do you feel to the local rap scenes, especially being in both Chicago and Los Angeles?
Sir Michael Rocks: It’s impossible to feel disconnected because it’s all relative. We are living it. What’s crazy is that a lot of the new generation, they grew up on us. I still live here in Chicago, so I’m immersed in it a little bit more, just naturally, by being physically here in the city so I’m always connecting with my friends that make music. I think the easiest way to feel connected to [local music] is just to be living it. Always connected and always growing. Chicago is a small city and a big city at the same time, so everyone is one degree of separation away from one another.
Do you feel like you’re a role model for Chicago, similar to Chance putting on for the city?
Sir Michael Rocks: I’m not a role model at all [laughs]. I fuck up and do terrible things. Don’t make me the role model guy. Chance is the best person for that. I’m like the big brother that always does shit and gets in trouble, but he doesn’t always get caught for it.
However, when I do encounter new artists from the city, I try to be a real person and a real friend. I remember when I was coming up and in high school, I would come in contact with bigger Chicago artists and there was a real disconnect that used to be there. Like people were already too big of a star to engage with you because they were already poppin’ or whatever. You’re better off now engaging with people than you are playing the isolated superstar guy. Everybody is more or less involved with each other so using your celebrity to isolate yourself is counterproductive. I’m not really big into giving advice because I think everyone should do their own thing. I’m still figuring shit out myself and I’m still young too. I think everybody’s best bet is to trust their gut.
What does the rest of this year have in store for you?
Chuck Inglish: New music to get out and new visuals. We’ll be doing more episodes of “Shit Show.” Solidify our names even more. We’re just putting the work in and having fun with it and just getting better and better.
Sir Michael Rocks: Having fun is the key, especially with rap music or at least with the kind of rap music that we do. It has to be fun for us or all of this would all be kind of impossible.