The Cool Kids Share Love for Summer Jams and Basketball
“Am I dreaming or is this s--- like a week away?” Chuck Inglish says in disbelief. He and Mikey Rocks of rap outfit the Cool Kids were just about to drop their first full length album, ‘When Fish Ride Bicycles,’ which hit iTunes July 12.
It’s the perfect summer album that must be played from start to finish – a confection of Golden Age hip-hop melded with catchy hooks, and a star-studded featured list to boot: Pharrell, Mayer Hawthorne and even Ghostface Killah, to name a few. Now ready to embark on their US summer tour (kicking off July 23 in Ocean City, Md.), Chuck and Mikey – both dressed in matching nautical Sperry top-siders and hipster-meets-Miami flare – talk summer jams, their love for MBA player Penny Hardaway, and plans to "establish [their] place" in the music world.
‘Summer Jam,’ ‘Get Right’ and ‘Swimsuits’ are all contenders for being really awesome summer hits -- so was that a common theme on the album or did that just serendipitously happen?
Chuck: I think we just make summer s---.
Mikey: Yeah that’s the kind of stuff we make most of the time.
Chuck: How we’ve kind of transformed over the past few years, has just been like the Jimmy Buffet rap style. All I see is usually palm trees. I aspire for that. I don’t need no mansions, I’m not really trying to drive a Rolls Royce. I just want to wake up and fish and go to the beach and chill. I don’t think there’s been really too many relaxed, I wouldn’t say, hippie rappers ... But like just in the whole vibe of summer.
How does that tie into the title? How did you guys come up with ‘When Fish Ride Bicycles’?
Chuck: It’s just a play on words a little bit. We got the phrase from watching ‘Fresh Prince’ one night. Just sitting up not doing nothing. And Uncle Phil told Hilary (she was gonna do something) and he was like “Yeah when fish ride bicycles,” so I was just like “oh s---, that sounds awesome.”
I don’t want people to get us. Like that’s not the point, just listen, enjoy it. So the title was kind of like, this will bug people out. They’ll be like "What does that mean?" but it’s kind of just like "when pigs fly" or "when s--- happens that isn’t usually supposed to happen." And after a couple years you start to figure out that we [are] not conventional.
In the song ‘Get Right,' we couldn’t help but hear ‘The Time of the Season,' the psychedelic 1968 hit. Obviously that was intentional, but how did you both decide to use that rhythmic beat?
Chuck: That was Pharrell. He actually just came in, dropped his book bag down and was like "yo I got this joint" ... It’s actually a really crazy story. He had these prototype Beat by Dr. Dre headphones with a microphone on it. So he started working, and I was watching him in the corner, I even got it on camera, just him with the drums just, *knock knock* "Ah!" *knock knock* "Ah!" He didn’t do nothing but "Ah!" baselines to that song ... I didn’t even put two and two together, I didn’t know what he was doing until the song was on the computer and he was like "alright" and then started coming up with the chorus ... And then we started playing that song before we come out [on stage], the, what’s the name of the band?
Chuck: Zombies, yeah. We start playing that song before we come out then do ‘Get Right.' But yeah, that was a Pharrell brain child and I think that’s why we went down there and worked with him. I didn’t leave it all up to me. But where I go with stuff sometimes, I would have never thought of that. The ‘Get Right’ and ‘The Summer Jam,' that’s what I would want but I hadn’t thought of that yet.
Listen to 'Get Right'
Tell me about ‘Penny Hardaway’ (Featuring Ghostface Killah) and your love for basketball.
Mikey: Yeah, when I was writing the chorus to it I was thinking of old basketball players that didn’t get enough love, that was dope and of course Penny crossed my mind and then the beat made me come up with a certain rhythm for it and it all kind of just came together smooth and it rhymed kind of nice. So I was like “Alright, Penny Hardaway, here it is.”
I kind of just wanted to just go with something a little bit off the wall and it was cool man and it worked. And I’m sure Penny would be proud if he heard it, he’ll probably hear it pretty soon and give us a call and tell us thanks or something, man. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the new breath of life we gave him.
Listen to 'Penny Hardaway'
What would you each say is your favorite track on the album?
Mikey: ‘Penny Hardaway’ is definitely one of mine. The intro [in] ‘Rush Hour Traffic,' that’s another one of my favorites too.
Chuck: That ['Rush Hour Traffic'] and ‘GMC’ [are] probably my favorite because it’s the longest rap I wrote and probably more true a testament to how I grew up. A lot of people are going to pick it apart because I rap how I rap. Some kids get it, but for the people that don’t, a lot of people like, “I don’t get what you saying here." But if you listen, I just talk about growing up listening to all the rap I’ve ever listened to … To probably one of the hardest beats I’ve made since… It’s harder than everything on ‘The Bake Sale.’ That was like one of the first songs I made for this new album.
Listen to 'GMC'
What would you like your next single to be?
Mikey: Probably the ‘Summer Jam.’ I would just go ahead and keep it rolling with the nice weather beach themes. Keep the beach themes going.
Chuck: Yeah, ‘Summer Jam’ and then the 'Penny Hardaway' track.
Mikey: That would be a hard one too.
Chuck: We could put them all out. I mean, honestly, I hope [the record] changes the main frame of things where you feel like you can only put out one song. Play what the f--- you want. Just play it. If you got a radio station and you like that song, you isn’t gonna hurt my feelings by playing [just] one of the songs of our album. I don’t got no song that I hate on this record. I love them all. They’re all my brain children.
We wanted to establish our place. I want my spot too. And this was it. I don’t care where my spot is but when you look at the book of people who changed s--- or did s--- different -- that was monumental for taking something that wasn’t completely in their hand and just throwing that s--- to the ground. That’s what we did with this record ... I’ve listened to this s--- for two years and it’s still not old to me and I hate pretty much everything I do after two weeks.
We listened to it pretty much all of July 4th weekend and it was perfect. It just fit.
Mikey: We made it for those weekends right there.
Chuck: We pretty much got until October to crack it out. And then the thing about is that it sounds summery in the summer, and in the winter time it still fits. There’s not too much I can say because I don’t even get it yet. I don’t even get it. Like honestly, I think me and him are in the Twilight Zone.
Mikey: I don’t know what’s about to happen, I don’t know how this is going to be like.
Chuck: This road hasn’t been chartered yet -- no one’s put out a full record with a company that hasn't done this before and we are kind of like all in a car with a road map, like, "I ain’t been here, but f--- it. Let’s go." And I actually dig that feeling, I can’t lie to you. I don’t really like knowing everything. Especially [with a] career like this; if we knew exactly what was gonna happen, then what’s the fun? If I know I’m gonna come out and I’m gonna get this cover, and I’m gonna get this press, and I’m going to be on this TV show, and I’m gonna sell this amount of records, then what the f--- is the point? Like we could end up selling a million records or we could sell 5,000 records. I don’t know. And that s--- is crazy to me because I have no clue.
You kind of just got to leave it to the powers that be, that’s actually what my whole thing is now.
Watch the Cool Kids in the Studio With Pharrell