Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with the name Kooley High. The North Carolina crew has been in my headphones for a good part of the year so far. Consisting of Sinopsis, Foolery, Rapsody, Charlie Smarts, Tab-One and DJ Ill Digitz on the 1&2′s, they bring that classic Nort Kackalac sound on their debut EP, The Summer Sessions EP, which was just named WYDU’s number two EP of the first half. Their smooth mellow beats and variety behind the mic, make this group a joy to listen to. WYDU had a chance to talk to the members about how they came to be, how it is working with all the cats, the future and one or two 9th Wonder questions just to annoy them….
Word, thanks for your time guys and girls….how about a brief introduction from the members in the house?
Charlie Smarts: Charlie Smarts. The Hip Pauper. I want to be your favorite songwriter. From the same city as Phonte. Slim with the tilted brim. Business man with a plan. Mecca is the Squad.
Sinopsis: I go by The Sinopsis of Kooley High. I produce, record, and mix. I spend most of my time at the record store or asleep. I moved here from Brooklyn in spring 2004 and once I met Foolery things started to happen. He invited me to join H20, and N.C. State hip hop organization, that is where I met everyone else.
Tab-One: Tab-One is in this mothalicka
Ill Digitz: Wassup, I’m DJ Ill Digitz.
Rapsody: Peace, Love, and Hip Hop wonderful world of “Wake Your Daughter Up” staff and readers! This is Rapsody aka RAPDIDDY, of Kooley High in de HOUSE!!! Hope everything is good in your world, and that your enjoying the SUMMER with the SUMMER SESSIONS EP!
Alright, so we have to get some of the generic questions out of the way, so bare with me. Let’s go with the “how did y’all come together” question?
CS: Met at NC State through the Club we created H2O (Hip Hop Organization). The degrees of separation: Tab met Charlie, Charlie knew Rapsody, Tab and Charlie met Digitz, Digitz knew Foolery, Foolery knew Sinopsis. After some of the members graduated college, these members wanted to be more serious about Hip Hop and thus formed Kooley High.
R: North Carolina State University, Charlie Smarts, and H2O are the bread and butter of our existence. We all were trying to get our higher learning on. Ill Digitz was holding down the college radio 88.1, myself and Charlie were working together and Foot Action, Tab-One and Charlie were in a band together (Inflowential), Foolery was interning with 9th, and The Sinopsis was at Target.
Charlie came to me and everyone else (whom I had not met) with the idea of starting a Hip Hop Organization on campus, being he knew all of us and that we all had this love for hip hop. So, Charlie, Digitz, Tab, and I formed H2O. So, that was our meeting ground.
We did a H2O compilation the summer of 05, and Foolery and Sinopsis were the illest beat makers in the group. So, it got to the point where Charlie, Tab, and I were always with Foolery and Sinopsis trying get some beats, and we were just having fun making music together. Well, the music we were making together was dope. So, we just became a group. And, the rest is history.
ID: Kooley High came together while we were all attending NC State. We started a Hip Hop org. on campus, and we put together like rap battles, and outdoor concerts. Through that org., some of the people involved decided to come together and make music together on a more serious level.
The group has that N.C. sound, which has created it’s own niche rather quickly from an outsider’s eye. What exactly is the “North Carolina” sound, describe it?
CS: Thanks man. We love where we’re from and all of our history.
The NC Sound: As far as beats: Soulful Seventies Samples with Face Slapping Snares and Knocking Kicks. As far as rappers: Flow, Wordplay, Punchlines, No Gimmicks, No Fluff.
ID: To me, the NC sound is honest. We met in college and went through things that people of that experience go through. We don’t try to rap or make songs about things that we aren’t living. I think that honesty is a common denominator amongst NC hip hop artists. Aside from the lyrics, I think the NC sound is definitely rooted in samples and soul music, and I think you can attribute that to the impa
ct 9th wonder has had on NC artists
R: I would say the NC sound is soulful and fun! Its like the 90s with a 2k bang. Being that we are located on the middle east coast, we were influenced by a lot of different sounding music. We were influenced by the New York, Northern movement…the southern funk like Outkast, and the west coast thang. So, you can say our music and artist are a melting pot of all those influences, which turns into our NC sound.
T1: The North Carolina sound is whatever it wants to be. We grew up in the middle of so much musical influence. I think its a sound that shows appreciation for real, good music. You can hear it in the samples and in the lyrics. Now as far as what exactly, that sound is, I can’t say. It doesn’t fit in a box.
You always see the NC artists supporting each other, Edgar Allen Floe is on your EP, you see cats showing up on each other’s projects all the time. Is the comradery as close in NC as it appears on the surface?
R: Most defiantly! The Justus League, Kooley, M1 Platoon, Supastion, Big Treal, and on, are all supporters of one another! We do shows together, do music together, it’s a NC movement! We were influenced by the Justus League, and they have paved a way for us and are our teachers in a sense! It’s somewhat of a responsibility for each one to some what teach one and bring one another up! Otherwise, there is a generation gap, which I strongly believe affects the quality of music. That’s one reason why you have your “less talented” rap of today and more gimmicks. So, it’s important that we all work together and move together, which is exactly what we do, ya dig?
CS: It might even be closer than it appears. It is dope to have cats around where all it takes is a phone call and they are willing to help. We can chill with cats from the Justice League at shows when a Slick Rick or a Ghostface comes through, or we can also be in a studio and rock with them. Gotta Love it.
S: The camaraderie is definitely there. Look at us for an example, we are new group on the scene but that didn’t keep the Justus League from trying to help us, whether it be with advice or some beats and verses. Everyone wants each other to succeed and that is really how it is on the surface and in depth.
T1: Well its not like we’re all hanging out everyday and having barbeques but, yeah, there’s a mutual respect that is shared amongst a large circle of groups and its an awesome thing to be a part of. There’s a lot of talent in NC, a lot.
ID: I think to some extent. It’s a close-knit community, because there aren’t that many of us, we try to help each other out.
Who is the best “unknown” NC MC, someone that isn’t in JL or HOJ and the average underground cat knows about?
CS: HALO. Point Blank Period. He is a problem. When his music comes out late this year and early next it will really be something. But I don’t know if the average underground cat knows about him.
S: HALO!!!!!! That dude is crazy. I remember the first track we did called “New Fly Sound”. I made the beat in 10 minutes and he had the verses and hook just as fast. He such an effective song maker and he’s humble. He definitely brings a different dynamic to the team. Check him out he’s dope.
T1: Besides my Kooley crew, my man Halo is crazy nice. My man Lazarus is crazy nice. All of M1 Platoon is crazy nice. And a lot more…keep your ears open.
ID: I would probably say someone like Supastition (Kam Moye). Shout out to Kam Moye by the way.
R: I suspect you mean other than us Kooley kats?! Haha!
So, allow me to introduce you to Halo, he is a beast (www.myspace.com/mrbenready) !
All the M1 Platoon fellas are dope (www.myspace.com/m1platoon)!
This group by the name of Actual Proof and my man Tee Three!
How does the dynamics of working in a group present challenges, especially with five members? Is it difficult getting everyon
e in the studio at once? Come up with ideas?
CS: Coming together is hard. We don’t all live around the corner from one another, and I don’t even have a car. It takes work, but we know it is worth it. Ideas start rolling when we are all together.
ID: It’s definitely difficult to get everyone on the same page all the time. With multiple point-of-views, sometimes not everyone may be feeling something, but I think in the end when we all figure it out together, we get something that can appeal to a lot of different people.
T1: Sometimes it’s hard to get everybody together but overall, we do a great job. Even if we can’t all be there at once, we can record our individual parts when we can be there. For the most part though, we sit down together and write. We’ll pick a beat, pick a topic and put the pen to the paper, its fun to hear it all come together.
S: The dynamic is great but we have our moments. It’s tricky when you have 5 different minds constantly trying to meet on one level but we do it. There are times where we are on different pages but we have a team first mentality and we’ll do things until they are right. Ideas come from everywhere literally. If there is a dope beat on the table a song is going to happen, whether it takes 2 hours or 2 days.
R: For the most part its always fun to have your family around! These are my brothers. Its not so hard for us to come up with ideas and hooks etc. We work well together in listening to each others ideas about song concepts, etc. And so far getting together hasn’t been a problem either. We know what we want so we do whatever to make it happen. Every now and again 1 or 2 of us may not be present for a session. But, whoever is there starts the track and whoever was missing comes and lays their icing on the cake
Rapsody, not too many groups have a female with a group of males, how do you feel about your role within in the group? Judging by the EP, you have a pretty major role….ever have to put the guys in check when it comes to creative ideas?
R: Lol! One person, I wont call any names would REALLY like to spit those “sexually explicity” lyrics. We’ve had a few talks, disagreements. But it all worked out. Lol! They always keep me laughing, and they are like my big brothers. And, big brother LOVE to pick on their little sisters! Lol! I get joked on ALL the time about my height by all of them. And Sinopsis and I have this war going on with the jokes! He is winning right now but I’m coming with vengeance! Lol! (So, watch out you black Swiss Roll!)
Alright, here it comes, you knew it was coming, the 9th Wonder question….haha….So how did y’all hook up with 9th?
ID: We initially hooked up with 9th Wonder through Foolery. He “job-shadowed” 9th for a class project, and as Foolery continued to make beats their relationship grew, and once Kooley formed, it was just a natural progression
CS: Yeah, Foolery made it happen. He shadowed the man, they became friends. He came to an H2O meeting, and has been checking for us ever since.
S: I met 9th back in 2004 through Foolery at N.C. State. I didn’t do much besides say “wsup” but it was cool though after a while I started to play him beats and the rest is short history.
R: Foolery interned with 9th. He went to his house everyday and watch him make beats on Fruity Loops. So, when we finished the H2O Compilation in 05, he came and listened to it and gave us advice
The last 9th question, promise. How much influence does he have in the group, meaning do you ask his opinion on certain tracks, beats, ect? And I’ll sneak this in with this, but how is it working with him on tracks and the such?
CS: We ask him for advice. 9th is a Grammy winning Vet in the game, we would be foolish not to. He gives us ideas and pointers on what works. But, lets not get it twisted, Kooley High does what Kooley High wants to do.
R: Of course we get his advice on music! He loves music and knows whats he is talking about! So, we always seek his advice and direction. He’s our big brother and mentor! We get scolded sometimes, but all in love. He teaches us, gives us advice, and puts us on big tracks to get us noticed! 9th Wonder is a wonder!!! To me personally, he has had a tremendous influence. He taught me about flow, and charisma in making music. Sometimes I just go to the studio to watch him, listen, and learn when others are recording. Oh, and he is FUNNY!!!!! Wow, you need a laugh, he has it! So, recording with him is cool. He’ll tell when something “just aint right”! lol! Which means write it over…but he’s just a real laid back, patient, cool dude. The biggest recording rule is, “DON’T WRITE ANYTHING YOU CANT SAY”! Its always good times!
S: Working with him is great. It’s a fun atmosphere, there are plenty of jokes to go along with beats. But at the same time he knows what he wants out of song and watching him produce his way to that point is how we all learned
CS: 9th wants dope jams and nothing less. He will let you know if he is or is not feeling it. Pulls no punches. This is his livelihood. You might have to re-spit something umpteen times but it will come out good.
S: 9th is someone who has done so many things that we are trying to do so his opinion is important to the songs. He has made so many jams he knows what works and we are fortunate to have that guidance. From a producing standpoint 9th has been a great mentor. He makes you focus on the details of how to create a feeling to make you songs memorable.
ID: It all depends on the situation. If we are working on a track over one of his beats, we might be in the studio with him, and he’ll engineer the session. Other times, we might do like 15-20 tracks without him really hearing them at all, and then the next time we roll to the studio we might play them for him to get his opinion. It’s definitely an honor and a blast to work with 9th on music. He a really cool, down to earth guy.
T1: 9th is always there to help and give advice. He’s great to work with. Straight forward, cool and down to Earth.
How do you feel about the response to the Summer Sessions EP? Rumor has it you were give the number #3 spot on a well known blog for first quarter releases (http://www.wydublog.com/2008/04/first-quarter-of-08.html)
CS: The Feedback is Tremendous. WYDU has given us support SUPER EARLY!!! Its an honor to even be in the conversation. We just make music that we love and when you can generate positivity in someone else’s mind… it really touches you (“No Homo”… What up Ka$h). Loads of talented people never even make it out of NC or Raleigh for that matter.
R: I was very pleased with the response from ALL OVER THE WORLD! Our hip hop families overseas, college stations, WAKE YOUR DAUGHTER UP shows much love and it is exciting and fulfilling! I mean, I love YALL!!!!!! Haha!
CS: With that being said, I saw that the blog disliked our jam “none really.” That was one of my faves on the EP. What gives? Just kidding, but on the serious tip… Our debut album is coming and its gonna show people the movement at full force. We’re coming for that #1 spot.
S: The response is great. The EP has been a successful introduction of us to the world. The more people write about it the better because we want people to be ready for the album.
ID: Yeah man, so far I have been digging the response of the Summer Sessions EP. Shout out to WYDU, and other blogs like it for giving us a chance and some shine, we really appreciate it. As far as the EP, while its certainly not our first main album, we wanted to put something out there so people could start to hear the name, and get a taste of what they can expect on the album. We actually are re-releasing the EP in physical form. Its “The Summer Sessions: Gold Tooth Edition”, which features exclusive cover art only available on the physical copies, and two more bonus tracks.
T1: I feel pretty good about it. The press we’ve gotten has been well received and people seem to enjoy it. We’re still just trying to spread the word and spread the music. Its on i-tunes and amazon.com. If you don’t have a copy, go get you one!!!!
This is more of a personal curiousity question I had, but what’s the meaning behind the name of the EP, the Summer Sessions EP?
R: The Sinopsis came up with the title. Its just some, summer heat! A little vacation to hold you over until Christmas! Why? Because the album is a gift.
CS: It has a summer feel to it… That Hot “idsh”. The name is school related which is where we met. Summer Sessions are a bit shorter semester wise and what not. We wanted to give people a taste of what to expect in the future from the camp.
T1: A lot of those tracks came from summertime recording sessions and the name just worked. Nothing deep
You are currently working on the full length album, how is that coming along?
CS: Coming along lovely. It is about done. We have determined which songs are going on it. Now its time to focus on the small things which make the project that much bigger.
T1: I think its coming along really well. We’ve got some great songs that I can’t wait for the world to hear. Good hip hop. Good music.
S: It’s coming along great. I can honestly say that in my short career I have never felt this good about any project I’ve been involved with. Every song so far has been a homerun.
ID: It’s coming along quite well. We have a good body of tracks to choose from. We are actually in the final stages of picking which ones will make the album, and fine-tuning them. I think everyone will be real psyched on it when they hear it.
R: The album is great! Our biggest problem will be choosing which songs to cut! We have some good joints. But, a week or two and we are done recording! So, we have to come up with a title, get some artwork and it will be on the way!
R: Third or fourth quarter 08!!!
T1: Yeah, third or fourth quarter of this year.
S: Just as soon as it’s done.
ID: Hopefully by the end of this year.
Are there any outside producers you are working with? (note I didn’t ask about 9th…hahaha) What about potential guests?
CS: Yep, But I don’t want to let the whole cat out of the bag just yet…
S: I don’t really consider them “outside” because they are family but we got a couple of beats from Ka$h and Napoleon. Median is on the album, we got Halo on it and we may a few surprises so that’s all I’ll say.
R: 9th Wonder of course, he has two cuts, our man Kash has one or two cuts…and that’s about it! The rest is Foolery and Sinopsis!!!
T1: The in house is there of course. We got some help from 9th and from a couple friends of ours named Ka$h and Napolean.
What do you hope to accomplish with the album itself?
CS: To reach a level where we are in the same breath as the greats. We want to reach more people with our message of being unique and still being part of a group in this crazy world. Kooley High wants to make a Classic.
S: I want this album to be a stamp like every other great album is by representing a specific time or feeling. Not only does it need to recreate our identity musically, it needs to have that immediate positive impression on people when they hear it.
R: I don’t expect to make too much money off it! I just want to make a good, solid, hopefully classic album! Put as much good music out as possible and build the buzz about Kooley High. In the words of 9th, we want to put so much good music out that yall get sick of us! (Well, not literally but you catch the drift, we cant be ignored)
T1: I hope to broaden our fanbase and taking a step into doing this music professionally. I hope people enjoy the music and I hope it gives them a break from all the world’s problems. Shit is crazy right now.
ID: I just want people to like it. I hope that it opens some doors for us to do some more shows in different places for new people. As the DJ, I definitely enjoy the shows and playing for people that like what you’re doing.
Anyone going to do the solo thing? I know that Charlie and Tab do Inflowential and I read Rapsody is signed to 9th’s label, anything outside of those?
CS: Maybe one day in the future, but as for right now the focus is the Kooley High Album.
R: Oh yeah! Charlie and Halo have a project done, entitled “The Title” which will drop after the Kooley Album. Tab has a project in the works called, “The Tabloids”, Sinopsis and Foolery will start on their projects sometime in the near future. Kash has a album entitled, “Kash Points” coming soon. Inflowential will be recording their album. And, yes Im with 9th Wonder’s label, IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD, and we have, entitled “The Return of the B-Girl”, in the works. No sleep! But, first we have wrap up this Kooley Album! Whew!!!!
ID: To me, this is exciting to talk about. While we have been making this first Kooley record, almost everybody has been working on solo projects as well. Look for a lot of good stuff to come from our camp after the Kooley album drops.
T1: We got an Inflow album on the way and some solo joints. We’ll definitely let you know when they’re on the way. Stay tuned
Sinopsis, are you guys getting any outside work on the production tip?
S: Currently I am working on an album with Big Chopps from the M1 Platoon. Other than that I have been focused on the Kooley album. It’s top priority.
Any last words for the readers in blog land?
CS: Tell a friend, Tell a friend, Tell a friend. People move music when music moves People.
Check out: youtube.com/meccarecords
Check out: Inflowential.com
ID: Much respect to everyone that is reading this, and I hope you will check us out!!! The LP is on the way, and “The Summer Sessions: Gold Tooth Edition” is out now. Peace!!!!
R: The Batman movie, “Dark Night” is going to be NUTS!!! Go see it! Haha! The Summer Sessions EP is on itunes! Hit us up on our myspace with any comments or questions, www.myspace.com/kooleyhigh. Stay tuned for the album its gonna be grrrreat!!!! KOOLEY GOT LOVE FOR WAKE YOUR DAUGHTER UP!!!
T1: Go outside!!!
Thanks for your time and keep us in the loop!
R: THANKY YOU MORE!!! PEEEACE!
T1: Thanks for having us. Much Love.