Producer Chuck Inglish, better known as one-half of the duo The Cool Kids, gives us some insight into what inspired him in the days of his youth, and how working on his debut album Convertibles differs from past projects. Known for his unique style of production, Chuck continues to deliver his own innovative sound to the industry. Being that behind the scenes artist, Chuck’s presence is consistently growing – collaborating with artists such as Mac Miller, Big Boi, and Mike Einziger from Incubus, to name a few. “What I’m bringing to the table is music; I just rap on top of that shit. But I’m also making the music I’m rapping to,” explained Chuck. “I’m designing things in a way to attract your ear, and then you’ll be like, ‘Damn. That motherfucker’s rapping to it.'”
I dropped by the studio to discuss past, present, and future with Chuck Inglish in our interview below.
MATT HASSOUN: So we find it interesting that you view “rapping” as a verb rather than the noun, “rapper.”
CHUCK INGLISH: Because I’m just rapping. Rapping was never the rapper first, rapping was slang for talking in the ‘70s. Like, let me rap with you. It wasn’t called rap, you know what I’m saying? It was kind of a way of communicating and it’s still the way of communicating – I’m just rapping.
A rapper is very pinpoint, specific classification... That’s like saying I’m just a poet or a wordsmith. And shout out to them, but I’m just not one of them. I have fun with the alphabet and English language, rhyme patterns, syllables. It’s like another instrument, so I don’t look at it like that.
We also read that you studied animation and drawing in college before you switched majors and still to this day sketch. That’s pretty dope. Did your interest in drawing lead to your style of producing or MCing?
Yeah, I would say something like that. They kind of played into each other. My imagination has always been extremely vivid and strong. In school I wasn’t as interested – as I’m pretty sure no one was. So if there was something I wanted then or if there was something I could think about all day, then I would draw it.
I had a phase – ’92, ’93, ‘94 – I had a phase where I would just nerd out on shit. Kriss Kross came out, they started wearing them baseball jerseys backwards and I did everything I could in my power to get my father to buy me those majestic shits with the pinstripes. Got that shit, put it on backwards, stood in the mirror, and just posed. So I would draw those jerseys before I would get one. Like the Oakland A’s one was my favorite one so I would look at it and just draw it, in the Sports Illustrated Kids’ or some shit like that.
I remember one year – maybe in 7th grade or some shit like that – those air Jordan 12’s came out and I fucked up and got a D. It was February, so the blue and white ones were coming out and everybody in school was just losing their minds. And I was like I know I didn’t just fuck up by not getting these. I didn’t get them. So to not be sad, I just drew them, drew them in my notebook detailed as shit. I couldn’t get them cause every single time we had an opportunity to get that shit, I would just be in school drawing or telling jokes or just being cool as shit; not getting my homework done. And then summer vacation comes or something that everybody else got it and my parents would just be like, “Nah. You? Not you, you’re not getting that.”
Animation, when I got to school, it just makes you draw OD, so I just started hating it because you’d draw the same shit 2,000 times and get a throwing motion in. 2,000 pages in you got mother fucker that would just put his leg out. I was just like, “I’m done with this.” [laughs]. I did one project where I animated Slick Rick’s children story on notecards and it was, like, 612 note cards. I lost 12 random ones one day in passing to class and I think I went to the office that day and switched my major, like, “Fuck this shit.” Animation is awesome but to people that animate, they’re definitely on Adderall for sure. [laughs] To animate you have to be out of your mother-fucking mind.
We read that you like to make car music, hence the latest tape convertibles. What sparked that direction of music?
I think the first couple times I can remember hearing music was in a car. Being in my car seat. My understanding of time then is pretty trippy because I can remember a lot of things I see – not hear or experience – but I can remember random days clear as shit. There’s this one day I was in a car seat and my parents got into an accident. It wasn’t that big of an accident, but that whole day, from waking up, I could tell you everything that happened. Every single scene—picture of the scenery down to the light fixture—I can remember if it was something new. So I remember the first time I heard “Grindin’.” I was in my mom’s house and I was supposed to being doing dishes, but I went downstairs real quick to go get some shit and I could hear [it]. We had TVs on both levels, so it was either Rap City or some shit and then that [beatboxes the beat to “Grindin’”] and I turned around just like that and remember every single thing that was there that day.
Certain shit like that plays a lot into everything. I remember shit so well and a lot of it was in a car. So when I listen to my mixes, I put them in my car first because I really can’t imagine people listening to it – like, what else do you do in your car? Especially in this city, you’ve gotta be in that bitch for at least half your life. And nothing mellows me out like if I’m listening to something I really, really feel. Traffic goes by easy; everything goes by easy. If it’s not too many times, you just go in the house and put the CD in your computer slot and listen to an album. Either on your laptop—which is a shitty way to listen to music—or in your car.
Is there a favorite car that you own or previously owned?
My first car was a 1986 Lincoln Town Car. My second car was a Chevy S10 Pickup. I was into pickup trucks and old cars but then I got practical. I had friends just catching bodies with the prices off, like insurance and shit. I was living in cities with public transportation so I was like, “Ehhh.” I got a moped, I rode that for a little while. My expectations for what I want to drive is for leisure, I’m not really trying to buy a practical car to get around, I’m cool. If I’m not riding clean, I’m just not riding. [laughs] I’m not about to borrow somebody’s or rent a Honda Civic or ride around like I’m not supposed to. I just get picked up... Everybody I know with cars live in cities where you don’t have to do street parking. If you do street parking and you’re trying to flex with your car, you’re just stupid... I have homies where they put their whole check up for Rams or to get a paint job or something small; small shit. Like a Pioneer with little 12s in the back and they’ll go to the gas station and feel good and go out one night on a date and then come back and their shit’s gone. Now you gotta drive your fucked up car home? Nah, my temper is too mellow right now... That type of shit is not for me, the boot is not for me. $75 parking tickets is not for me. Street cleaning moving – waking your ass up at, like, 9 in the morning to move the car across the street, nah fuck that.
Nah, I’d rather make music for that shit and driving mine to the store. I want to park it and never had seen a parking sign anywhere. I’m over parking here [in LA]. $75 dollars for a parking ticket, dawg! Do you know what you could do for that? You could go to the grocery story and feed a family for a week for an extra ten minutes in a parking spot. But it’s pretty much inhumane because there are a lot of people that can’t afford [that]. $75 a hit is unfair to a lot of people’s pockets. I know in rap music everyone makes it seem like everybody’s ballin’, but niggas really not ballin’ like that. You go out one day and hit that $75 parking ticket and there’s a possibility you could pull not looking to the parking instructions and it could say permit or it could say from 3 to 4 at this mother fucking day and now you got another $75 parking ticket. Now that’s $150 out of your shit.
So we read in a recent interview that you’re really into collaborating – like how you wanted your album to showcase others. It’s pretty humbling. What influenced you to think in such a way?
I’ve always been like that, I’ve always played well with others. I never had an entitlement issue, I just wanted the shit to be there, I don’t care who did it. I know I’m nice as shit, you know I’m nice as shit, what’re we arguing about? So if we can make a song, there’s splits and there’s credit, but I feel like people who don’t feel like they get enough get more [tugged] and tossed. People can argue I don’t get enough but I’m young bro, I just started doing this shit. I want to do more good than I got credit for.
There are people that I look up to that have done hella shit and you’ve never even noticed. They just do it because they like to do it. That’s what makes you really good, not because you got all the credit for it. Because there’s nothing worse than getting a whole bunch of credit for shit, and then one day somebody go into a newspaper or blog and be like, “I really did that shit.” Nah, I actually did it, I just don’t care.
I’ve played on people’s stuff, I’ve helped out. But it’s really for the – I don’t want to say the word culture because that’s narrowing shit – but for the world. If you good at shit and you know that you can do it and you don’t do it, you’re an asshole. Straight up and down because what the fuck are you doing? If you’re a doctor and you know how to fix people and you’re like, “Nah,” you’re an asshole. If you know how to fix cars and you see a motherfucker with his car broke and you can fix it and you don’t, you’re an asshole. It’s your choice, I’m not saying life is over, but you’re a fucking asshole. I’m just not with it.
So if I can do it – when people hit me up or new artists hit me up and they wanna work I’m just like, “Come through with the tree and let’s do it.” We’ll figure that shit out later. If it works it works, if it doesn’t then I learned something. I practiced for the day. I did my work for the day.
So how was working the solo albums different from any other projects?
It was lonelier, if that makes sense. I’ve done everything, pretty much, with Mikey since we started and even though we did our own, we kind of did it together. I’m very courteous to how he does his shit when we work. Because I’m the sound and the background, I play more a background role to the shit we do. I come up with an idea and I map out the soundscapes and I have a fresh ass way to start shit off, but how he closes is a closer. It’s like pitching a game, you can pitch a fucking good game but if the closer comes in and he loses then you lose too. So I try to paint a picture where that never happens. So there might be times where I don’t have a rap or I wouldn’t even have thought about it. I’d just make a beat and just trust the fact of if I leave it with him something will come out of it.
But this go around, everything is me. I had really nothing to use as a bargaining chip, like, “Jump on my album, I’m popping right now.” Everybody’s like, “Oh, what are you doing?” “I’m doing a solo album.” 2012 people are like, “What happened to the Cool Kids?” Nobody ever wanted me to do this shit. Why not? [laughs] First of all, why not? Second of all, I get that everybody was under the impression that Cool Kids was over, but we were just growing up... We just went through a situation where we wanted to try this, we would get in the studio and he would want to do something and I would want to do something different. Does that make you not friends? Does that mean y’all not close? Does that make y’all not a group? No. It means that he wants to do some shit and I want to do some shit. So we just do that.
It wasn’t fucking rocket science. We had felt some type of way about how our situation had went as a group of where we expected shit to go at that time. To a lot of kids, yeah, hit. But we had a lot of ideas that were halted by greed and other people.
So this is an island I can stand on, on my own now... I made the beat, now I gotta write to it, now I gotta come up with a chorus, then I gotta mix it. I’d rather do that than be bored. There’s a lot of people with a whole lot of money and shit cracking, but they’re hella bored because their craft took another route; it doesn’t become a challenge. And when that doesn’t happen, you’ll lose it, man. If things are not challenging your brain will give the fuck up no matter what you’re doing. I think that’s why the solo thing was a little different – it was scarier. And for some reason, I don’t mind being spooked by shit.