Love and hard work are the main ingredients which brought six college students together to form Kooley High. Bouncing off each other, the group seamlessly intertwines hip hop and soul. Kooley High reveals what it was like working with 9th Wonder, what kind effect Rapsody’s solo career has and their upcoming release of ‘Kooley High Presents: David Thompson’. Margaret Tra writes.
How would you describe Kooley High?
CHARLIE SMARTS: Kooley High is a collective of Hip Hop lovers enjoying the culture.
RAPSODY: [We are] six funky North Carolina hip hop heads of different colours, creeds, religion and gender joined by way of music! We make fun, life music, over soulful, boom-bap beats.
TAB-ONE: Truly fly.
FOOLERY: I would just call it quality rap music.
You guys started off as students on campus, did you guys think you would make it this far?
CHARLIE: Absolutely. I see us making it much farther.
FOOLERY: I don't think any of us knew exactly what was going to happen. We we're just kids that loved hip-hop and loved making music. That being said, we all dreamed big and followed that up by working really hard. So none of us are surprised by where we find ourselves. We're still fighting to make it where we want to be. We continue to dream and the grind continues.
TAB: I always thought we could, still planning to go further though.
RAPSODY: I think we all saw some promise in the group. We were different. We didn't, and still don't, look like any other hip hop collective doing it now. And, the music was good. We could only put it out there and see what happened. I think we all believe that you can do and be anything you dream if you work hard enough at it, and network, etc. So, every milestone is like a ‘WOW’ moment, but deep down we feel like the hard work paid off and we can say KOOLEY did it.
What was it like working with 9th Wonder?
CHARLIE: He has a wealth of knowledge, and will share it in an instant. It [was] cool working with a Legend.
RAPSODY: To work with someone like 9th is a blessing! Not everyone gets that opportunity to watch him work, his dedication and passion. [In addition] to learn and ask questions, and take direction from him, it’s a great experience. He is very humble and down to earth and enjoys teaching! It’s definitely a learning environment, creative, and fun. He cracks jokes and makes you feel very comfortable. It’s hard to go home! 9th's energy, the people he keeps around him, it’s amazing to be a part of.
FOOLERY: It has been quite a blessing. It amazes me how just seeing someone do something in person can change your whole perception of what is possible. I remember growing up in North Carolina and thinking how unlikely it would be to become a hip-hop music producer. The second I sat down at his house and watched him make beats my whole reality changed, and I don't know if I would ever have gotten this far without that initial jolt of inspiration. Not to mention, he actually believed in the kid. Its like, “Shit, if this guy believes in me, why the hell should I!?!”
Ideal artists you guys would like to collaborate with?
TAB: For me, Mos Def, Black Thought & the Beastie Boys.
CHARLIE: Would love to collaborate with Kanye, Andre 3000. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Elzhi, Flying Lotus, and many others.
RAPSODY: DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Pusha T, King, Method Man, Erykah Badu, to name a few.
FOOLERY: I would really be interested in collaborating on something with Zack Galifanakis.
How does it feel to know your music reaches Australia? Possible tour?
TAB: Pretty wonderful. We'd love to tour in Aussie. Get us over there & we'll rock.
CHARLIE: It’s kind of astounding that our music made it to Australia. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in my nether regions. We would love to tour. We have done shows in many states in the US but never abroad. That would be a wonderful experience... Sign me up. By the way, do you know of any promoters in Australia that could help us make this happen?
RAPSODY: It’s an indescribable feeling. To look back at where we started on the bricks of NC State, performing for free for sometimes 20 people....to watching our movement grow legs and reach the shores of Australia! It’s a great feeling to know that our music touches peoples tens of thousands of miles away, that they can relate. It’s beautiful, the power of music, hip hop. It makes you know that you’re doing something right.
FOOLERY: We are very thankful that our music has spread around the world. It appears that Australia has been especially hip to the movement. We would love to make it out there to perform. So, if anyone thinks they can help facilitate a Kooley High Australia tour please hit us up!
What projects are you guys working on now?
CHARLIE: Right now Kooley High is preparing to release a project called ‘Kooley High Presents: David Thompson’. It’s jazzy-sexy-groovy-bouncy in my opinion. My latest solo release is called ‘LowBottomMe’ After we release ‘David Thompson’ we will get to work on our next release that will come out early 2012 (it has yet to be titled).
RAPSODY: I just released another solo project THANK H.E.R. NOW.
FOOLERY: Also I want to remind people that there are many of our previous releases that can downloaded Kooley High site. Not to mention if they have yet to check out our debut LP they should head over to itunes or order a hardcopy from fatbeats.
Rapsody has released a new EP has that affected Kooley High?
TAB: If anything, it's helped. She represents the crew on her solo stuff & that helps spread the word. We're incredibly proud of her.
CHARLIE: Yes. We see the Kooley High name reaching many more outlets since the release of her latest project. It’s a great feeling when one member can make strides and it helps everyone else at the same time.
FOOLERY: It’s been great to see Rapsody's solo success. We are all very proud of what she has been accomplishing with 9th wonder and the Jamla Records team.
You guys seamlessly depict hip hop (production & rhymes) with an astonishing six members, how do you do that?
TAB: We have fun.
FOOLERY: Love and hard work are the main ingredients.
CHARLIE: Patience. We make sure a song goes through the gauntlet of our opinionated peoples before we let the world hear it. That mixed with hard work is how it is accomplished.
RAPSODY: It all boils down to having good communication and respecting others opinions. We all started out as friends and lovers of the culture. So, we get in there and bounce ideas and just have fun making good music. It’s a fun place to create, to be surrounded by other creative individuals.