Interview: Chuck Inglish Talks Convertibles, The Cool Kids Legacy, And Being Labeled As Just A Producer
Transitioning from being one half of The Cool Kids (alongside Sir Michael Rocks) to being a solo artist has been swell for the producer/rapper that we know as Chuck Inglish. Around December of last year, Chuck and Sir Michael Rocks announced that they were splitting to focus on their solo careers. Ever since then, Chuck has been focusing on becoming a better musician. He has dropped a EP so far and is gearing up to release his solo debut Convertibles later this year.
Although The Cool Kids have split, the classic sound that they were most known for lives on through Chuck. We got to catch up with him via Skype while he was out in Berlin on business. While we were chopping it up, he addressed his brotherly relationship with Sir Michael Rocks, his cousin Boldy James, what kind of impact he wants Convertibles to make, the influence shrooms have had, and a lot more. Peep what he had to say below.
RESPECT: You’re live from Berlin right now–tell us what you’re out there for.
Chuck: I’m doing a Droptops promotional run where I’m DJ’ing, doing interviews, in-stores, and I have two performance shows in the next fourteen days. It’s a nine show run in like four different countries.
You’re not old at all, how does it feel to be an OG in this game at such a young age?
We did it really young and I’ve always had an old soul. How I see things and my outlook [are] a couple years ahead. I did it at an age that a lot of people are still trying to get through. I was just blessed to have good timing, and I learned a lot. So when people come to me for advice or anything, I never act like I don’t know. I always share information with everybody. Half of the respect that I got was because I did it on my own and I got recognized by myself, you know what I’m saying? Me and Mikey did that shit with no handout, no help, we just used our skills and our minds to get to where we had to be.
And like, even now, I always draw my moves out first, and then I do them, so I always have a line of how I want to do it. Everything isn’t just music. You can’t just have music. You have to have a plan for the music. Like right now, I’m on step two of a five-step plan before the LP Convertibles comes out. There’s a lot of things I wanted to do first so I think even with this move, I’ll still be the youngest to do what I’m doing this way too and I’m cool with that. In my heart, I’ll never be old. I’ll always age, you know, age happens, but my spirit isn’t old, I still have that quest for youthful knowledge and I still want to learn and I will still listen probably better than most people. Even though it looks like I’ve done a lot, I still humble myself enough to listen to people whether they haven’t done anything or not, ‘cause everybody has a point, so I always try to take that into account.
You mentioned Convertibles earlier, how is that project coming along? Is it finished?
Um, it’s 80 percent done. I’ve taken a step back from it for a minute just to make sure what I was doing stands the test. I have like ten or eleven permanent songs. It’s been a lot of things that have happened this summer that have made me just kinda wanna step it up, from everybody’s albums dropping this year, which makes me happy ‘cause now I’ll be in a great class of albums that dropped—from the Kanye album, to the J. Cole album, to the Mac Miller album, to the Jay-Z album that just dropped today. It kind of inspires this competitiveness for me to exist where they are, even though they might see me as a peer, I want to see myself there. So now Convertibles—I have this edge for it, you know what I mean? I want people to put it on and feel like my shit is either better or even comparable. That type of musical competition in rap is very historic.
Me being more of a (or looked at as more of a) producer, I don’t ever want anything to be more than the other. I can rap as good as I can make beats, like I’ve always been able to do that. So now, I look at the rap side as people don’t necessarily see me as that, so now my goal is for you to understand and respect my mind and know, that bar for bar, I probably will get you. So if people really listen to what I rap about, it’s just done in a very laxed way that you don’t think that I really mean it, but I mean it. So Convertibles is like [pauses], I’m taking this more…not lyrical approach, but I stepped up the stories. Most of the songs that I have are stories. I didn’t really just go bar for bar. I have a couple of raps that I just want to kick, like old school shit.
I listened to Eric B. & Rakim “I Aint No Joke” the other day before I went to the airport and that kind of like set off a spark in me ‘cause I haven’t really listened to the lyrics in a minute but Rakim was fucking losing his mind on that shit and I want to have that feeling on my shit. I have some records with the Alchemist that are pretty ill, where I lost my mind rapping and I think not enough people have heard me do that, so that’s what Convertibles is about. The world knows that I can construct songs and produce for other people, which is cool but I still want to surpass that. I don’t think there is too many people that can fuck with me rapping and creating their own music, so I want to make that point known and accepted, and you can’t do that by just saying it. So this is the album to be like, “you know what, we probably can’t fuck with Chuck.”
You’re known for working with a lot of up-and-comers, do you have time to keep up with new music or are these people you meet through mutual friends in the industry?
Nahh, I know about everything. I listen to music! Nine times out of ten, if it’s hot, I had it in my iTunes first. I try to see what’s happening. I don’t just wait for music to come to me, I like to be on shit first. Like the song that everyone is talking about, the Migos shit, “Versace,” I was pumping that shit before the mixtape even dropped, just being in Atlanta and hearing what everyone else was listening to. And me, when I like something, I don’t rap on it but Drake, he can do that shit and he probably overdid it a little bit [laughs]. Now I can’t even listen to that shit without him on it, you know what I’m saying? So that’s also another spirit of rap that you gotta love and this summer has probably been one of the best summers for rap in a minute. Everybody feels like they have to have something to compete, ‘cause if you drop something whack, ain’t nobody gonna even talk about it and that’s worse than someone saying it sucks. No one talking about it is way worse than someone critiquing it and saying its bad, you know what I mean? I know for a fact that I’ll never make nothing whack but at the same time, I don’t ever want to not be in conversation.
I dropped my free EP on memorial day and that was like a teaser. When I get back to the states, I have like seven Soundcloud releases that I’m gonna do and then I’m gonna start releasing singles. I have a single from the album with Ab-Soul and Mac Miller that I’m gonna drop, so that’ll be the rollout for Convertibles.
Talk about the effect that your cousin Boldy James has had on your life.
Boldy James is like [pauses], I didn’t have like an older brother. I’ve always been the older one in my family, so to have someone like that around you your whole life and you’ve been a fan of everything he’s done, even when nobody knew or gave a fuck about who he was. To actually see the shit he’s accomplishing now, is crazy. I’ve always told him that he could do that, and now actually seeing him believe it and being your big cousin, it’s fucking great! I can’t lie.
I love when people walk up to me and tell me about him and they don’t even know I’m related to him. I don’t know any cousin rap duos that are equally as nice. To me, he’s one of the best rappers living and people haven’t really got enough of him yet. So as soon as he gets in a position where his words are at the top of the food chain, I honestly think rap will be in a better spot.
The sound you have is very 90s influenced, so if there was one album from the 90s that you could contribute production to, what album would it be?
Aquemini by Outkast.
That album changed my life! Straight up. I went to sleep to that album for like three straight weeks and that was the first time I had heard rap take a more adult production approach. Outkast didn’t make that shit for nobody else but them. That album lasted me from 9th grade to college. It came out my 9th grade year. I listened to it equally every single year. Even ‘til this day, it still hasn’t gotten old. There’s not a song on there that I want to skip, it doesn’t feel dated. With that record, it would’ve been interesting to see where I’d went with it. I would’ve loved to have a song on that album.
You made the “Black Mags” beat on shrooms, right?
What differentiates the beats that you make on shrooms?
[Laughs] I don’t know man, it’s funny. Mushrooms aren’t really a drug to me, they’re kinda like a door. You can walk in it, you can see yourself, you can see things at face value. Not promoting drug use, but I’m promoting drug use [laughs]. I’ve always had more of a chop-like vision towards things.
I’m not like the responsible adult that thinks “is this gonna work? Does this sound like what’s happening right now?” I just do exactly what the fuck I want and it always ends up working. That shit kind of taught me that every single song that I’ve did with my mind free and I didn’t have any sort of box, always ends up being a better song. I just took that knowledge and now I run with it, and sometimes when I’m sitting back listening to music, if I hear it one way and I wanna hear it another way, I’ll shroom myself out.
So what are some notable beats that you’ve done under that influence?
Every single thing that you’ve heard that’s pretty big, nine times out of ten, I was probably off shrooms [laughs]—“Bundle Up,” “Ashin Kusher” by Cudi, tons of songs. It doesn’t really take my mind outside this world, it just entertains my imagination. It’s just like smoking weed, or some people have a glass of wine before they play the violin, everyone has their own situation.
Sober is also a drug [laughs], I listen to things sober. At the end of the day it’s all about perspective and learning to live life in every single form.
Curren$y spit one of his most memorable verses on one of your beats, “Fat Raps.” Do you guys still plan to do the collaborative project Puff Daddy?
Yeah, we actually have two songs but me and Curren$y’s thing is, we have to do it when we see eachother and the last time I seen him, we did a song. Anytime I see him we try to do a song or two. He asked me and we talked about it, do we really want to do this over email or do we want to compromise what we could do in the studio together. We’ve been real busy lately but it’s something that will happen…It’s definitely going to happen! We’re just doing it when we run into each other. So if he’s in LA, he’ll call me and be like “yeah, I’m free, let’s do this” and I’m there, but we made a pact to not do it through email.
While we’re on the subject of collaborations, what would you say is the best producer, artist collaboration that you’ve done over the span of your career?
Um, one of my most memorable ones that I’ve did is on Soundcloud, a song that I wrote with Dan of the Black Keys and Nicole Wray called “Harmonize,” between that one and the song me and Kid Cudi have, “Ashin’ Kusher,” that’s still one of my favorites. I have so many! The Mac Miller joint, “Wear My Hat” too. I had just moved into a new condo and I made that beat as soon as I plugged everything up.
Speak on the legacy of The Cool Kids and how do you feel you and Mikey (Sir Michael Rocks) changed the game?
We were the first ones in. We did something that nobody else thought would work. It came from me and him just having those childhoods where we saw so much cool shit, and it was easily translatable. We weren’t those kids that didn’t see shit, we saw a ton and we were able to voice what we saw really early.
We got to wear what we wanted to wear. We just dressed like the people that we seen growing up and at a point in time when that shit went out of style and people were wearing tall tee’s, NBA patch jeans, and a whole bunch of other shit, we just came threw with what we knew. Now, it’s the norm, you know what I’m saying? It wasn’t no black kids anywhere wearing colored jeans, NOWHERE! My man Mikey did a lot of shit for niggas. We ushered in a slight revolution and I’m proud of that, and that’s what The Cool Kids represented. A lot of people don’t understand and they ask “What’s up with The Cool Kids?” It’s like, we kinda did that! Like, do you really want us to fuck that up for you? Or do you want it to be what it was, and be as great as it is in your memory? And that’s what we think. We can either take this name and beat it into the ground or we can let it appreciate in value like it is, so that way, when we do that next record, it’s not something that’s forced upon you.
I actually hit Mikey yesterday and we had a long ass text conversation ‘cause I can only talk through the WiFi and I was just talking to him about what we used to eat at these shitty ass continental breakfasts [laughs]. Just taking pictures of shit that we used to see when we were over here. This is my first time traveling overseas without him, so it’s a bittersweet moment ‘cause I’m doing something on my own and I’ve been so used to having him around. That’s the reason why I’m doing things on my own, because he’s always been there to bail me out. Like if I had a beat, and I didn’t have a rap, he’d have a rap. If I had a rap and didn’t have a hook, he’d have a hook. If I was on stage and forgot half my rhyme, he’d know it. That was not gonna make me the greatest that I want to be. I have to be able to handle that on my own. Now imagine what it would be like if I can do that and he can do that, and then we link back up!
Last question. It’s obvious that you’re into cars–do you collect ‘em? And if so, what’s your favorite in the collection?
When I moved to Chicago, I stopped man. I love cars but at the moment I’ve been on mopeds and bikes. My car game will probably restart as soon as I get Convertibles out. I can spend the money and get exactly what I want but I don’t feel rewarded so the day that I drop Convertibles, I’m going out and buying two SAAB 900 turbos. I’ll probably have a shorty drive one back but I’m buying two of ‘em that day, straight up.
To me, cars are rewards. Like, my little brother just bought a brand new 2014 and drove that shit off the lot but he graduated college and got a job all in the same month, so to us, you gotta reward yourself when you’re done doing shit.
Every time I see Curren$y cop something new, I get hella tight [laughs]. I’ve been in a room with him and Moosa before, and they’d be on eBay scoping some shit out. I remember Curren$y sent me an eBay for a Grand Prix and told me to go get the shit, it had sixteen switches and all that. It was only 8,600 bucks but I had nothing done so if I’m riding around whipping it, I got no new music to pump. I have to reward myself. So the day Convertibles come out, catch ya mans in two different cars. Same body, different colors. That’s how I’ma do it: just go out and buy two of them bitches at once.