Max Wax: You are going to do a tour with The Crest?
Coolzey: We're probably going to do a nice big posse with Kanser from Minneapolis or Saturday Morning Soundtrack from Minneapolis are both interested. The Rusty Pelicans from Milwaukee are very interested. Sounds like it's going to be a good little Midwest tour starting in February.
MW: What label are you on?
C: Me? I'm not on a label. I call it Public School Records when I put albums out but I'm unsigned. I like it that way. I got people putting out records of mine around Iowa City. I got a bunch of music I got to get out there.
MW: And you DJ too?
C: Yeah. I make my own beats on an MPC, I DJ. I don't to a lot of complicated cuts; I can mix and do stuff live. I did some cuts on my last album, Akstoopid, which was basically a demo I passed around to everybody. On the He Did EP I had my DJ Fed Up do the cuts. I picked out the cuts and told him what to do basically, but he did all the scratches.
MW: I got your EP, it's pretty dope. I just heard the hidden track today.
C: Oh yeah, that was fun. That was a fucking fun day when we recorded that song. That whole song was conceived and recorded in 48 hours. It was fun. You ever heard of Will Whitmore before?
C: He's great man. He's on Southern Records, he's actually getting really big right now, and he’s touring around the country doing sold-out shows. He plays banjo and sings. He's a grassroots dude from Keokuk, IA. We both met in Iowa City. He's a great, great dude. If you like bluegrass or folk music at all I would really recommend checking him out. I'm also working with DJ PRZM from Spitball. I'm heading out to California in late January or early February. We've already been trading beats with each other. I'm about the creative process. I love recording. To tell you the truth, I like live shows, but I like the recording process way more. Creating and writing.
MW: And you make rock too?
C: I've been doing hip-hop ever since I was a kid. In fact I only listened to hip-hop until I was a junior in high school, except for a few classics like AC/DC. I definitely got into all kinds of music in college and late high school. I learned how to play a lot of instruments - guitar, bass, drums. I've known how to play keyboards my whole life, my mom was a piano teacher. I definitely love all kinds of music. Hip-hop, especially East Coast, late 80s/early 90s hip-hop has always been my main thing and I love making hip-hop - making beats especially. Making beats is my main musical endeavor. I definitely play rock and roll too. I play in a couple bands. One called Naked Hasselhoff. I play bass in that band. We're going on tour in June. Death-surf is the kind of music we play. I'm in a more classic-rock/country style band called The Old Man that plays around Iowa City. I've got a couple other projects, but those are the more active ones.
MW: How do you describe your style of hip-hop?
C: I think a lot of the time when people say old school they're getting pigeonholed into holding onto something or trying to do something that’s already been done. In fact I got a review recently that basically dissed me because I sounded like classic old school hip-hop. Which to me was like, whoa, shit man. For that guy it was a dis, for me it was praise. I'm just influenced. I think it's original because I am a guy who grew up a block away from a cornfield in Iowa. And I grew up listening to, basically, black guys from the East Coast, from Brooklyn and Queens and Manhattan talking into my headphones. I related to them more than I did to anybody from where I grew up. Not just black guys, guys from New York City. My favorites were guys like Big Daddy Kane, Lord Finesse, Biz Markie. That classic stuff. I definitely would say for my beats, I use records. I use old records. And I use an MPC, so I'm into the old-school style of making beats. I use a lot of samples and chop them up. As far as my rhyme styles go, I'm not into super complex, fast rhyming. I think it takes a lot more skill to rhyme like someone like MF Doom. To rhyme like someone who rhymes really slow but you still have to be witty and charismatic. I do fast rhymes too, but I like super head nod, 85 to 95 tempo stuff. That type of shit. I'm all about that. East Coast late 80s/early 90s hip-hop is what I strive to sound like, but I'm trying to make something new. I think "Trees And Dirt" is an example of how I'm trying to break away from getting pigeonholed in an old-school genre.
MW: Have you had problems finding exposure coming from Iowa?
C: Yes and no. Early on, around 2002, I was in a more comedy hip-hop group called the Sucka MCs. Now, I always have to clarify this when I say comedy hip-hop. The song "Funny Rappers" is actually about the fact that I've had to deal with so many bad comedy rappers in the last six years because of the Sucka MCs. We were dudes who loved hip-hop and we wrote rhymes, we just like to make jokes like Biz Markie makes jokes. Like Redman makes jokes. But because we were white guys from Iowa, people would say that we were rich frat boys making fun of hip-hop or something. Which totally wasn't the case. We were a bunch of broke musicians that just loved hip-hop and wanted to make hip-hop. We made beats and music, and we like to make each other laugh so we made funny rhymes. We never were ever making fun of hip-hop. Anyway, the Sucka MCs got signed in 2002, so exposure-wise we did have a good break there. We got signed to this New York label, Ace Fu Records. We burned some bridges with that group because the group was impulsive, Dionysian. We got fucked up, we were a really debaucherous group. We opened up for Vanilla Ice in Champagne, IL, and somebody from our crew stole a 24-pack of beer, Dr. Don from our crew did. We got kicked out, the cops called on us, never allowed to play in Champagne. We opened up for Paul Barman in Boston and New York City and during Paul Barman's finale song at the Middle East in Boston one of the dudes from our crew got up on stage to the horrification of everybody else and put Paul Barman in a headlock. It was horrifying. I had to give Paul Barman a big hug and some free CDs. So we burned a lot of bridges and we got dropped from the label because everybody from the crew was so fucked up. They were canceling shows. So we had a break, we kind of blew it, but it was like an infamous thing. People are still asking me about it. It's cool in a way, but I have trouble getting shows in certain towns.
MW: What do you think commercial rap is lacking today?
C: As far as bad rap music, what I think bad rap music is, which is most commercial rap these days, I think it lacks soul. I want to say, that is not a hollow vague statement. I really believe, in music in general, that soul is the most important thing. You can always tell when a band lacks soul. Oh, and the other thing they lack is self-security. I've seen so many so many insecure bands and so many insecure rap groups. And I think that all these thugs coming out are so insecure. Talking about their guns with their keyboard-tinkly beats. I can smell insecurity a mile a way. The two things I think that they lack the most are soul and self-worth. They think that they have such little self worth that they will ho themselves out for money and bitches. If that's all life is worth to them, what are they going to do with their money and bitches? Just get off. It's all masturbation for them. I hate that. I'm a spiritual person but I like to party and have fun and I love money and bitches just as much as the next guy but I love them. I love them for the beauty of it. I love the beauty of things that you can do with money and I love the beauty women.
MW: Not just what they do for your ego.
C: Or your penis! Oh here's the other thing - rappers double their vocals too much these days. I've been noticing this. People got to stop doubling their vocals. Good rappers don't need to double their vocals. Biz Markie, Lord Finesse, Doom, never doubled their vocals because they can deliver it all in one take and have it sound good and charismatic and it doesn't sound all doctored up. Rappers out there, if I could tell them one thing, "Quit doubling your vocals so much!" Just do one take man, that's what I'm saying.
MW: Your rapping style on "French Fries And Ice Cream" is different from the rest of He Did. Do you have different lyrical styles that you use?
C: I have a lyric on the song "Purple Porcupine" where I say, "Never use same voices, it's just what comes out." It just what comes out of me when I hear a beat. What comes out of me when I hear a beat is the way that my voice sounds. Sometimes it makes me need to have a lisp, sometimes it makes me need to plug my nose, sometimes it makes me need to rap high or low. I don't categorize them as styles. Some styles are like other styles. It's like a sliding scale of what the beat makes me do.
MW: Is there anything else you want to say to our Midwest, Maximum Ink readers?
C: The readers are in a good place for hip-hop. Minnesota is one of the best places to be in the United States right now. Everywhere I go, I tell people they are lucky to be where they are right now. Because we definitely got things going on out here in the Midwest. I firmly believe that. You might go to a bad show here and there or an unattended show. You may only have one good show in town a night, but I'd say we're in a really good place in the Midwest right now, thanks to a lot of pioneers and thanks to everybody in music and hip-hop. We're in a good place.