Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks, collectively known as The Cool Kids, chose wisely when picking their name. Noticeably laid back and (yep!) cool, the seasoned hip-hop duo exude an effortless swagger in everything they do—and are humble while doing it, a refreshing quality in a genre that’s so contingent on ego. Since exploding on the scene in 2004 with The Bake Sale EP, The Cool Kids have continually evolved both sonically and artistically, while remaining true to their DIY ethos and experimental sound that attracted such a loyal fanbase.
On March 3, The Cool Kids began the rollout for their new triple album Before Shit Got Weird, a beautiful amalgamation of clever wordplay, Chuck’s stellar production, and their signature brand of humor. Subsequent releases—Baby Oil Staircase (Mikey solo project) and Chillout (Chuck solo project)—only get better with each listen. The Cool Kids recently had some time to discuss Before Shit Got Weird, their loyal fans, and the time they were flying First Class with Rev. Jesse Jackson—stoned out of their minds.
You’re always pushing the envelope, this time dropping three albums back-to-back. How do you feel the projects have been received?
Chuck Inglish: I think we hit the mark as far as being able to communicate the album concept. Three albums at once is an adventurous move in today’s music climate. People want music, but they aren’t digging for it or paying too much attention to it when an artist releases their album. It’s always what’s next. I think we gave our listeners a new world to explore, a universe that can keep on expanding. This album will never get old because I wasn’t trying to capture the times or be current. We wanted to sound like a collectible.
Sir Michael Rocks: I think we nailed the execution this time around. It felt good to have an entire album already out and getting a lot of positive attention while still having two more albums in the vault ready to go. I think our performances on these albums were top tier and such a good picture of who we are and where we are artistically. We really got to showcase multiple sides of what The Cool Kids are.
Your fans are noticeably diehard. Why do you think they’ve remained so loyal over the years?
Chuck: Craftsmanship. People notice the care and technique. I make sure the small details are art pieces in itself. Also, we never smell our flowers in the moment, which keeps me sharp and always wanting to give more to my craft. There’s always cooler shit to make, and I think the people who stick with us feel that. It keeps them wanting to exist in that world with us.
Mikey: We literally just… give a fuck. We never half-ass our fans or give them some lukewarm shit and call it hot. We have remained ourselves this entire time, and I think that’s what resonates with people and makes them remain interested. Our goal is to always leave things better than we found them.
Tell me about your relationship with weed. When was the first time you smoked, and what was your reaction?
Chuck: First time I smoked weed was 8th grade at a friend’s 14th birthday party. It was out of a beer can. I was fake lit, then I got hella hungry. We don’t talk about enough how your first time getting the munchies hits harder than any other bite of food you’ve had.
Mikey: My first time was in high school with my friend Korey. He had just got this real shitty Oldsmobile, and one day, he pulled up on me and said, “Hop in.” Having any type of car back then was a major flex, so we just rode around for a bit, then went to Buffalo Wild Wings where everybody would be hanging in the parking lot and got real high listening to Lil Wayne’s Drought 2 mixtape. After that, we went to Burger King and ordered three Whoppers a piece.
How have your smoking habits evolved over the years?
Chuck: It’s supreme mathematics at this point and part of the routine. I smoke way less weed nowadays, but that’s only because I want to be stoned when I do roll up, not smoking just to smoke. Nothing gets funnier or tastes better [if your tolerance is too high]—[It] isn’t the route I want to run.
Mikey: I hate getting really high now—that’s never the goal anymore. I used to try shit like volcano vaporizers, dab rigs, wax—all that shit. But now, I just like to smoke to decompress after a day of work. I only smoke at night after I’m done working for the day. Unless I’m in the studio recording, then I might smoke much earlier. I just hate being high out in the world, trying to do important stuff stoned.
What’s your funniest memory smoking?
Chuck: Being stoned as a sculpture on [an] airplane. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was sitting in front of us in First Class, and I kept staring at his bald spot because there was a refection in it. We ended laughing with real tears in our eyes for the whole flight, daring each other to see if that bald spot would move if we touched it. We were burnt to a crisp that day, still the funniest shit in the world, but you had to be there.
Mikey: Definitely the Jesse Jackson story Chuck just told. There is nothing funnier than seeing that man while you are high off your ass.
Have you ever had a bad experience smoking weed?
Chuck: First time I ever did a dab, I got so stoned I swore I was going to jail due to the news getting ahold of two-week-old security footage of me in a strip club bathroom crushing up an ecstasy pill to sniff it. I got so paranoid I almost called my management to build up a PR spin. Funny things is, there are no cameras in the bathroom, and who the fuck did I think I was that the local Los Angeles news would even give a shit? I hit that dab so hard I thought judgement day was coming.
Mikey: We were in London at some big ass old ass hotel after our first show in the U.K. We just killed the show, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to smoke a blunt and celebrate. We lit the blunt and passed it around maybe once before we heard a knock on the door. Of course, it was the fucking cops. They barged in the room tripping about the weed smell, and they saw we had a pile of foreign cash laid out on the bed from previous shows we had done on our tour. They thought we were big-time weed dealers and threatened to take us to jail. Our manager somehow convinced them we were not weed dealers, and they just ended up kicking him out of the hotel. Me and Chuck scurried to our rooms and hid with the lights off in case they came looking for us next [laughs].
Are you looking forward to taking Before Shit Got Weird on the road? Do you think it will feel strange after the pandemic?
Chuck: I’m ready to hit the festival stages for sure. I think when we start to tour the album, we’re going to change the definition of what a show experience is. We aren’t just going to rap to you—We’re going to give the people a wrinkle in time.
How did the pandemic affect your song writing?
Chuck: It made me more creative. I was writing songs, lyrics, and chorus concepts to entertain myself instead of others, which was a technique I lost for a while. It re-charged my creativity.
Mikey: It helped me become a much more efficient writer. I learned how to follow my first mind and not second-guess what I was writing. I wasn’t sure where the world was headed, so I wanted to break any old habits that I felt weren’t helping me.
Chuck, you’re an incredible producer. Does smoking weed help that process or hinder it?
It can hinder it a bit; depends on your routine. I’m a smoke when I listen, not when I make it, type of musician. It’s always a treat to listen back to something after you gave it rest and rolled something up.
Mikey: Yes, the deluxe album. The return of Marriani clothing and tons of other clothing designs as well as an interactive/virtual reality late-night show on Twitch. New Arts on the way.
Chuck: Everything! The world is ours. We are just going to keep building and building until the population in this world grows, but the deluxe is coming soon. Shit’s weird.