Over sparse production that relies heavily on sampled accordion, emcees/producers Antoine "Mikey Rocks" Reed and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll spit lyrics both witty ("I rhyme in tsunamis and this is just a drop of it/ if you're a DJ, you should get a drop of this") and self-referential ("Hands in the air even if your arms don't work/ The Cool Kids banging on the speakers in your car system"). And, as they're perhaps best known for, the duo still fills its verses with references to hip hop's golden age.
The Kids, who have a history of disseminating new singles via mixtape or MySpace, released "Delivery Man" as a free digital download from Mountain Dew-sponsored imprint Green Label Sound, followed by a remix by Durham producer 9th Wonder that drips with synthesizers.
When an interview could only be scheduled after this issue went to press, we were hopeful that the retro-referencing rappers would reward us with some of the sharp, clever dialogue typical of their rhymes. But after yet another postponement, several dropped calls and brief responses e-mailed 72 hours after promised, Mikey Rocks was apparently feeling more in touch with the duo's laid-back side.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: The Cool Kids have developed a reputation for having a throwback sound, based on tracks like "88." But "Delivery Man" sounds pretty fresh and modern. Was it an intentional move away from the throwback sound or just a different take on it?
ANTOINE "MIKEY ROCKS" REED: We do a lot of shit, man. That's just something else that we can do, you know? We can do a lot of different stuff. That first wave of songs that we had, that's how we were feeling at the time. The style of those songs is reflective of when they were made and what frame of mind we were in when we were making those songs and now we do things differently. It's just us growing as artists and fooling around with sounds ... just different styles of beats and raps and stuff. It's real easy, though.
Were you trying to buck that label of being a throwback artist or was it just what happened naturally?
We never wanted to be labeled as guys with a throwback sound. We just rapped about some shit we thought was cool, and people put us in that box, but we never really were that. Besides "Gold and a Pager" and "88" and stuff, a lot of our songs weren't really that throwback in our minds, as far as the production goes. As far as "Gold and a Pager" and "88," we made retro references, and we never really were going for that. It's just how it came out.
Who did the production on "Delivery Man," you or Chuck?
That was Chuck.
The track is basically built around that one sample. Is that an accordion or an organ or what?
Yeah, it is an accordion from a synthesizer mixed in with a bubbly synth underneath it in the bassline.
You have a line in the second verse "If I'm not a whiz kid at it/ Then I guarantee that my partner is." Can you describe the working relationship between you and Chuck?
We complement each others' skills. If he can't do it, then I can, and vice versa.
Do you and Chuck bounce lyrics off each other when you're writing or do you pretty much write your own verses and bring them together later? Who writes the hooks?
We let each other hear the direction we're headed in lyrically. I've been writing a lot of the hooks lately, but sometimes Chuck will write a hook too.
Chuck name drops Flava Flav in the first verse. What's your favorite Public Enemy track?
"Fight The Power."
Sugar Ray Leonard gets a shout as well. Now Sugar Ray's from North Carolina, but who would win—Sugar Ray or Floyd Mayweather?
I'm a Floyd fan, so I say Floyd.
There's a false start at the beginning of the track. Was that authentic? Obviously you included it on this track, but what are your thoughts on releasing tracks "warts and all" like that?
Yeah, we keep the song originally how it is when we record it. It sounds less corporate that way.
The Cool Kids have released a huge chunk of their work through non-traditional means. What do you see as the tradeoff in releasing "Delivery Man" for free through the Mountain Dew-sponsored Green Label as opposed to a pay-per-download or traditional CD release?
More people will have it and get to hear it.
I have to ask about the 9th Wonder remix. He's got connections here in the Triangle as well as Chicago. How did you guys meet and how was it decided that Delivery Man would be remixed by 9th?
Cornerstone [Promotion, which releases a monthly mixtape that's previously featured both The Cool Kids and 9th Wonder] hooked it up.
What do you think of the remix?
The remix is dope. It adds a different feel to the record.
The Cool Kids plays Cat's Cradle with Matt & Kim and Juan Huevos at 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8. Tickets are $5.