“We were always going to get back together,” claims a confident Chuck Inglish, who makes up one half of The Cool Kids duo along with smooth Chicago MC, Sir Michael Rocks. After reuniting in 2016, the “Black Mags” artists are ready to offer up their real first album from scratch properly titled, Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe, which releases September 15th and is now available for pre-order.
The 16-track LP enlists an all-star lineup of features, including Hannibal Burress, Syd from The Internet, Travis Barker, Jeremih, Smoke DZA, A-Trak, Larry June and more. After recording for just over a year in studios from isolated Iowa, to Miami and Los Angeles, The Cool Kids are ready for the world to hear their first project together since 2011. Chuck puts it best when he tells Billboard, “You’ve got to grow up to grow together. Now It’s appreciated and time for this.”
The Cool Kids have their hands in quite a few ventures right now, but the duo made time to stop by the Billboard offices this week for an in-depth conversation about their upcoming album and television show titled The Shit Show, which premiered last weekend on their YouTube channels and their thoughts on Soundcloud dominating the music scene.
Check out their interview below.
What’s the reception been like from fans now that you’re back together?
Mikey Rocks: It’s been great. The energy at the shows has been crazy. I think people can see that we are rocking together, so that makes them like it more. They can sort of feel it on us, like it’s time. We feel their energy when we’re up there. The AfroPunk Festival was crazy too. We went on during the middle of the day, which is usually semi-early, but we had it lined up down the field. It was one of the most packed stages I saw.
What inspired you to change the title from Shark Week to Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe?
Chuck Inglish: This is our special offering right now. We haven’t in our head ever made an album from scratch. Everything has always been best case scenario for the situation. Even though people received them really well, this is our first real album. We started recording last in 2016 around this time.
You both had solo projects you were working on before getting back together. Are those going to stay in the vault for now?
Chuck Inglish: My solo project is definitely way less of a rap album. Not taking anything away from it, but I don’t feel like doing it right now. To be like a musical opus, that didn’t feel like something we should do. The solo was a way to stay alive while we couldn’t be The Cool Kids. You’ve got to grow up to grow together. Now It’s appreciated and time for this.
Mikey Rocks: We were going through things with our team that wouldn’t allow us to put out music together. So what am I going to do, stop putting out music? Nah, I’d die if I stopped making music. I’d lose my mind. It was a means to an end that we used to further ourselves and keep our skills sharp while things worked themselves out.
How did your new YouTube series The Shit Show come together?
Mikey Rocks: It’s something that I really thought of at the time we started, but I never had the passion to set up and actually start filming. It’s inevitable that it would happen, and now I finally figured out how we could shoot it and make it a real thing. If you know us, you know this is what we do all day, but we never had the chance to film it. We’re releasing it on our own YouTube channels at first to build that base so we could have leverage when we do end up taking it somewhere else. After what I’ve seen in how this game works, it’s better to put it out on our own.
Is your older brother Carlos going to be making an appearance on the show?
Mikey Rocks: Yeah, he actually has one clip where we play him Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti for the first time after not knowing who they were. We ask him which one he liked and he goes “Man, I don’t like this Lil Uzi Vert, but I could get down with this Playboi Carti.”
Travis Barker is featured on “Break Your Legs.” That’s someone you have collaborated with on multiple occasions in the past. What made him a fit for this project?
Mikey Rocks: Travis and Chuck got together out in Los Angeles and we had a track that was very heavy on live drums and instantly you’re like, “Who’s the best live drummer that you know? Go get Travis.” “It was simple as that on the track. He’s always down to work and been a big part of the family. He was looking out for us for a while before anyone.
The first track of your album is titled “The Moonlanding” and you sample the Apollo 11 launching — what’s the significance behind that?
Chuck Inglish: After that you hear me say, “Yeah, all right,” because I don’t believe in it. We’re talking about certain things around here have been “The Moonlanding.” You guys are so obsessed with shit that never really happened and we know what happened. I’m starting the album off with “This is real, and that was fake.” If you believe in the moon landing you’re as gullible as you look.
On “Running Man” Mikey rapped about people wearing rock band shirts they don’t know anything about. How do you feel about this new fashion trend?
Mikey Rocks: It’s the second coming of that. It’s happened before. It’s always corny every time it happens. A bunch of pop girls who would usually shop at Bebe and don’t give a fuck about music. It’s a thing and I hate when that trend comes back around, I will always diss that trend. Fuck it, I don’t like it. Dudes love it too.
Chuck Inglish: We brought that up because it’s a fact — it doesn’t bother me though. I’m going to be fresh as fuck whether you are or not. I’m going to always be good. If we look at you and can tell you’re not a fan of that band you’re going to have to walk around like a doofus, not me. In rap, people get caught up with how things used to be, but back then, people said stuff sucked too.
On DJ Shadow’s album in 1996 [Endtroducing…..] he had a song called “Why Hip-Hop Sucks In 1996.” If you tell someone who created music then why hip-hop sucked in 1996, they’re going to get tight. So every time there’s going to be something people find cooler later, like us. Everybody wasn’t a Cool Kids fan until now. It took damn near ten years for people to come around to it.
What were you looking to capture with the “Check Out” visual?
Mikey Rocks: That was one of the first times we captured the vibe of a song perfectly on the video. We really wanted to get fresh, come through and have some visuals that would make you feel a little different with an ominous and eerie feel. We wanted it to hit you there and put you in that space, but then it’s kind of fresh at the same time. It contained a little bit of irony visually. It was hard, but spooky at the same time and had some political undertones. All of that played into and connected that visual.
You both brought out some interesting fashion choices for the video as well.
Mikey Rocks: Yeah, the tan Carhartt overall joints. I’m really a big fan of Carhartt, I’ve been rocking with them since I was a kid. It’s that rugged feel with big outerwear sizes. I don’t really like small t-shirts. I just want big t-shirts to come back. Let’s make that happen. It’s like brands don’t even make big t-shirts anymore. They shrunk the sizes. Everything is European. It’s fucked up. It’s so irritating bro. I can’t get any length on my sleeves, I’ve never been a little t-shirt wearer.
Do you guys feel as if you had any role in spawning Soundcloud rap with what you accomplished on MySpace?
Mikey Rocks: Out of everything that we may have had a hand in influencing, nobody ever got our sound. People did some similar visual and idealistic things, but nobody could copy our sound. It’s remained kind of untouched and unique to us. Myspace was the first SoundCloud. There’s going to be 2.0, 3.0s of everything and Myspace was SoundCloud 1.0.
Chuck Inglish: It was different though, because I feel Myspace wasn’t music-based. If you had a song that was big on Myspace, you couldn’t juice those views because people were embedding it on their page. People that have SoundCloud are uploading music. It’s a social media platform for amateur musicians, it’s pretty much the NCAA.
As much as people would credit us, Myspace was just a way for our music to get around to the world faster. SoundCloud doesn’t even go around the world like that. America’s social media is not the same as Europe. Myspace used to be the only one. Now it’s just different — people see new things happening and want to associate it with something prior. People are really lazy in 2017. Things need to be slowly cooked to taste better.
Mikey, do you feel your music should be more popular or your fame should be bigger at this point in your career?
Mikey Rocks: I feel like I’ve been given a lot of advantages in life. I’m super-blessed, and the only thing God hasn’t given me yet is super fame and super money. Everything else, I got it. I have a creative mind, I’m healthy, I’m attractive, fashionable and funny. It’ll be overboard if god gave me everything. Something else has to happen before I get super money and fame. I have a lot of positive traits that people we look up to could be lacking in.
People are attracted to fame and a cover though. There’s a lot of things that our idols don’t have, but I do. Money is something that you can get. I have the shit you can’t get. You can get more rich, but you can’t get a personality and the combination of skills that I have. It’s something that you’re just born with. I got it all, bro. I’m going to get rich and famous and I’ll still be 6’1″ and handsome and be the most creative.
I’ll take it when it comes just so I can keep what I already have. It’s like a bag of chips with all the air in it. My bag of chips is full as fuck, so when I ceil it up it’s going to be the best bag of chips when I’m rich and famous.
What do you hope fans get out of this album?
Chuck Inglish: I want a whole new world to open up. I want it to be like when I heard [N.E.R.D.’s 2001 album] In Search Of… when I was in college — people completely switched their way of thinking. The album will bring more people out until we’re in control. You’re better off with us in control, trust me. If we’re the ones making the decisions for cultural shit that matters, nobody cares more than us.
I have a whole other scientific reason for caring. This isn’t a way to make my dreams come true. My motivation is completely different. It’s to walk up and down these streets and know when people are smiling at each other, that came from me. I want people to work in complete unison because of something I’ve done.