By Ellen Rosner Feig
Currently on tour with Radix, Midwestern hip-hop artist Coolzey is about to drop his newest EP, Soixante-Neuf, on the indie label Public School Records. The second in a series of three EPs, each recorded in a different U.S. city, this EP is true old skool hip-hop filled with cool beats and poetic raps. Hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, Coolzey took some time out to discuss his career.
Why three EPs set in different parts of the country?
I just have friends and people that I’ve met that I want to hang out with and create with that live all over, and I like to have multiple reasons to go places. I'm kind of an ADHD multi-tasker, you know, the kind of guy who likes to have a movie playing while someone is telling me a story and I'm listening to one headphone and typing or drawing at the same time, so I multi-task touring, traveling, and recording sessions together. I just like creating events and recording experiences. I'm all about events with intimate groups of people and seeing if we can get open enough to create something that feels like we had the whole world sitting in on it.
Your music is very old skool – who are some of your influences and why?
When I grew up most of my friends lived in my headphones. I would sometimes lie and tell my school friends that my mom didn't want me to go out, and sit at home making mix tapes. Something about the voices and attitude of these people towards life, I could relate to way more. I believe in past lives, and I'm pretty sure it has something to do with that. Also these people were not afraid to say what they really thought, which a lot of people in Iowa don't do. Being reserved and polite is the norm. These people were Biz Markie, he was the clown king to me, Big Daddy Kane, Shock G, Fresh Prince, LL Cool J, KMD, Alkaholiks, NWA, Geto Boys, the almighty Chuck D, Beatnuts, the list goes on.
What's your opinion over the recent comments by Russell Simmons that rap music should be less violent/anti women?
I don't care. I hope I never have the gall to tell any motherfucking body how they SHOULD be. I think that anyone who tells anyone how they SHOULD be in any situation is full of shit. They have an agenda, for sure. What you do is what you do, if people get to know you, and really spend time with you, then they can judge you, otherwise I could give a flying bat's dick about what anybody thinks. I promise I will never tell you what you should say, what is good, what is bad, what you should do, or anything like that. I mostly keep my opinions to myself. I just reflect the world and try to create a fun, relaxing atmosphere based on instinct, ethics, and the knowledge I've gained through experience and education.
What's the rap community like in the Midwest?
Right now it is on the rise again, but it's all so static. I'm not trying to be disheartening, I'm actually happy about its state right now. Here's the thing: A community is made up of individuals. Every individual in that community is important. When a community is based on things like necessity, like a town per se, is based on meeting people's basic needs of shelter, school, water, etc, then it is very easy to keep the community together, because everyone is driven to survive. Everyone. When a community is based on an art form, like the “Midwest hip hop community,” there is less necessity involved, and therefore less drive. Individuals tend to organize their priorities with food, money, family, significant other, and a whole lotta shit above the creation of their art. This is where I differ from most people, as creation is my number one priority. So I listen to a lot of people saying, “Man, the scene in this town or this region or this blah blah used to be blah blah and now its blah blah,” That shit means next to nothing to me. It's like reading the news or watching TV, it's just a bunch of opinions, people trying to legitimize their fears. I'm not about that, I don't have time for it. I want to keep creating, having fun, gaining knowledge, moving forward, the good shit. All I can speak for is myself. However, that being said, there is some dope shit going on in a lot of towns in the Midwest, check out The Crest, Kinghellbastard, Articulate, Kanser, Seel Fresh, lots of good dudes doing their thing.
Why the indie release route via your own label, Public School Records?
I don't like waiting for other people. If I can find a label of people that want to be friends and will put out my albums as soon as they are done, I'll do it. Either that or if they give me a shitload of money, fuckit! I have so much music that my friends and I have conceived and/or recorded that I think is the shit, we can use that money, dog! I'll sell my shit! Well, unless they seem reeeeally evil.
Why hip hop?
I listened to nothing but hip hop besides Weird Al Yankovic from 3rd grade until 11th grade, nothing but. I don’t know why, but it's just what I grew up on. I go with my instinct alot. I don't think you know the reasons why you do a lot of things, you just learn to go with what feels right. When I live that way, I feel better about my life.