In 2013, Chuck Inglish is cruising into uncharted territory, figuratively and literally. Best known as one-half of the Midwest duo The Cool Kids alongside Mikey Rocks (who now goes by Sir Michael Rocks), the Detroit rapper/producer and his partner decided to amicably pursue their own solo careers in 2011. However, whereas Michael established himself by releasing music at an effective rate, Chuck instead kept behind the scenes, popping up from time to time but never fully stabilizing his presence.
That equation has now changed as Chuck is taking full control of his career. This past May he released his Droptops mixtape, meant to showcase the reinvigorated artists' arsenal of sharp rhymes and banging production. What's even more impressive is that the EP will be promptly followed up with his debut album, Convertibles. Chuck described Droptops as, "A soft left jab" to Convertible's "right hook."
We recently caught up with Chuck to discuss a recent acting gig and his debut album, in which he revealed Sir Michael Rocks will make an appearance on as well as Big Boi. Chuck also explained his new label situation, what it's like working with Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, and who is executive producing his album.
Interview by Edwin Ortiz (@iTunesEra)
First off, how does Chuck Inglish pop up on my TV screen acting on The Hustle? I definitely didn’t see that one coming.
Neither did I when it happened. I think the writer, Prentice Perry, really liked The Cool Kids and figured that in a show with a new rap group, they should be working with me. He made me look cool and that was the first time I acted. To act as yourself when they write lines for stuff you are supposed to say, that you wouldn’t say, is kind of interesting.
Is acting something you want to pursue? Or was it a one-off moment for The Hustle?
Yeah, I’m always entertaining that idea, but right now I want to focus on putting these records out. Acting and recording an album at the same time, that’s not my sport. I could write a movie when my attention was paid to that. But I'm good at one thing at a time.
Speaking of music, you recently produced the impressive cut “Gees” for Mac Miller’s new album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off. How was that process for you guys working in the studio?
That was so organic, because Mac and me are cool. When he moved into the [Los Angeles] house he had some stuff to do, so he trusted me as an engineer to put the studio together. It was like a week of camping out on bean bags and making a lot of raps. I'm kind of honored to be on the Mac album, because of all the three that dropped on June 18, I liked that one the most. I’m not going to front.
You are currently at work on your debut album, Convertibles. From the look of your recent connections, there's going to be a lot of creative expansion here. What did you and Big Boi cook up for this project?
I have a song that I sent to him, but I haven’t heard what he did to it yet. I tried to make a “When Doves Cry” in a rap version. I used a lot of instruments and I broke it down like I thought Prince would do, and that’s the song I sent to Big Boi. Convertibles, to me, is something I want to stand on my own legs with so I didn’t ask for too many features.
I'm kind of honored to be on the Mac album, because of all the three that dropped on June 18, I liked that one the most. I’m not going to front.
The big one I got is Chromeo, and the Big Boi record is like a childhood dream, that’s it. I wanted to showcase what I do on my own and not do a collaborative project, because I could do that any time. This is like a laying my neck to be chopped off type of project, but that’s how I wanted to do it. I put so much into it, like musically with all my influences, that it doesn’t sound like The Cool Kids or Droptops.
It’s pretty much my new mission statement. And I have Mike Einziger [the lead guitarist] from Incubus executive producing it with me. I haven’t told too many people that, but it's time I gave somebody else the opportunity to tell me what to do. If it was going to be anybody, it would be him.
How did that collaboration come about?
Through my manager. When me and him started working, the first place he sent me was to Mike’s house. He figured Mike was someone outside the lines that was musically trained to tell me what I needed to do to make it sound more than just experimental with all the instruments I can play. So, to have someone hear what I did and be like, “Play that better. Cool,” who’s going to tell me? Mike from Incubus.
There's no perfect guitarist in rap, and I wasn’t trying to make an album that was nostalgic rap, I was trying to bend the lines a little bit. So, it’s not a different type of record, but sonically I just take some chances.
Earlier you were talking about how this album is going to be Chuck Inglish on the forefront. Listening to Droptops, you basically have a feature on each track.
The thing about Droptops is, that was like a soft left jab for a right hook. Like, it has nothing to do with Convertibles at all. I just felt music is kind of changing and a lot of rap is very epic. There's a lot of strings, chords, soundtrack-sounding shit, and for the people that grew up like me, you just want some shit you can put in your car and ride out to. I wanted to give Droptops away for free because it doesn’t sound like my album. It’s way more like a nostalgic Cool Kids sound, but that’s me too. I did Droptops in three weeks; Convertibles has taken three years.
Are you still shooting for an August release date for Convertibles?
I have to be honest with myself. I think it will be more like September, because me and Mike keep adding. We’re going to stop soon, but the additions sound so good that it is worth trying to see where it goes. He just scored The Lone Ranger, so we had to take small breaks. When we did it, it had to be in like 45 minute intervals. We were doing it at Hans Zimmer’s studio, which was a really big deal. I got some crazy ass sounds out of that.
For Mike to be producing my album, scoring The Lone Ranger, working with Yuna, and working with The Internet, you just have to respect it. You’re going to get some of that energy being around that too, so I would rather push it back to get everything out of it than just try to get it out.
Not to say that I don’t like the new Jay-Z mind, but when you listen to some of his old s**t, you go, “What the f**k were you doing when you wrote that?”
You’ve mentioned before that you want to be a mix of innovative producers like Timbaland and Pharrell, and both of those artists are taking part in Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. If you were to make a beat for Jay-Z, what kind of song would you want him to rap over it with?
That’s a good ass question. “Where I’m From,” I’d want to do something like that. I would pretty much tell him right off the bat, “Let’s just kick some crazy shit,” and then give him a beat that didn’t jog the new Jay-Z mind. Not to say that I don’t like the new Jay-Z mind, but when you listen to some of his old shit, you go, “What the fuck were you doing when you wrote that?”
“Where I’m From,” that is one of the best songs out of anyone, because you can see what he’s saying. That type of zone, I miss that Jay. I know he's rich as hell now and doesn’t have those same issues popping, but you still remember some of those stories. If I was going to get a Jay-Z beat off, that is what I would want.
You ever see Fade to Black? Pharrell calls him and tells him about a beat, and when he gets off the phone he’s like, "There’s no way I'm not getting my storytelling shit off.” That’s how I feel. You want that storytelling Jay.
It’s great to see you and Sir Michael Rocks broadening the scale of The Cool Kids brand. With that said, are there any collaborations between you two in the pipeline? Or are you both just in solo dolo mode?
I'm going to be honest, I think the hardest song we’ve ever done, is on my album. We’re more brothers than we are a group, so you’re trying to spin your wheels as friends, and if he wants to do something that I don’t necessarily want to do, I’m cool with that. That dude means more to me than The Cool Kids. If he wants to do something, I'm going to be there. I got to be on every single one of his projects.
That’s crazy. Lets ride out on this last question. If you had to pick one convertible to whip, what would it be?
1965 Impala. When I was little, I was obsessed with the ‘63 and the ‘64, and I used to draw them all the time. I was a big lowrider fanatic, but I never saw a ‘65. Then, I saw a ‘65 in real life and that shit was like the ‘62, ‘63, and '64 in a fucking super dope ass idea. The '65, I was obsessed with the tail lights.
I just seen a dude drive past me the other day in Los Angeles with the bowling ball paint and the Sunday rims. His son was in the front seat and his dog was in the back seat, and I was like, “That’s me.” It ain’t me right now, but that’s what I’m working towards. The ‘65 Impala is pretty much me as a car. I’m not a big cell phone snapper, but I saw it and froze up like, “Damn, I should have grabbed my phone.”