It’s awful growing up in the second part of your life. No more free rides, more bills. Mortgages, alimony, dental care, heartburn. Coolzey, a beat maker/DJ/MC from Des Moines, Iowa, took a shot at recording youth on the EP “He Did,” the first part of a personal life triptych. With those fun and games out of the way, it’s time to face the burdens of boring adulthood on the second installment EP “Soixante-Neuf.”

Life is a mystery. Coolzey takes that law to the extreme. If it wasn’t for the press kit that came with the album, I could have gone through all my life not knowing who I listened to. The cardboard jewel case features abstract art work on the outside lacking name and tracklisting. Other reviewers were lucky enough to get an informative sticker which revealed it was Coolzey. All I had was fuzzy light spots on a dark background.

Let’s add some more light spots. Coolzey grew up near Des Moines in Iowa, and used to be part of several indie rock groups. He also was accounted for roll call on the local Iowan The Sucka MC’s collective. That last episode in his musical career wasn’t one of the finest periods in his adult life. The group was thrown off stage, their label, and their high horse by critics who thought them to be infantile loudmouth no-goods. He went back to basics and started creating beats, scribbling rhymes, and devising in his own universe. Symbolism plays a large role in this EP series and that universe. Apart from the life journey theme of “Soixante Neuf,” the triple threat musician takes his music literally on the road. “He Did” was recorded in his home town of Des Moines. For his middle age ordeal, Coolzey set up shop in capital of the Midwest Chicago to team up with the local producer Chad Schnieder, better known as Void Pedal. The final EP, that should deal with death, will probably take place in New York following the geographical line.

The EP picks up where “He Did” ended, with some fresh, youthful cuts on “Intro,” followed by past ghost party samples from Biz Markie and Busta Rhymes. A first scope of this EP will not immediately reveal it, but you’ll find out Coolzey (b)eats old school hip-hop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as he rhymes on the first track of this short album:

“Listen up party people in the place to be
I am the human being that they call Coolzey
I got something to feel, I got something to see
And I am about to bring a three from the top of the key”

The mellow saturation of mid-life becomes immediately apparent on the opening’s follow-up “Funk 69.” Whispering jazz cymbals and fluctuating bass guitar tumble over a self-confident backdrop. No matter what mood, every song on this short album is supported by a fresh old school break, and there are plenty of vocal references to old school acts like A Tribe Called Quest and Kool Chip. His rhyme style contains some of that early days bar structure, but the lines are often abstract and hard to follow, as on the following gruff battle track “ABC”:

“Kung fu duck stew
Pluck a few limbs from your torso
Now ask yourself: how come you’re so stupid to fuck with?
The capital of rap land
Gobble up a ghost, quick fast, like Pac Man
It’s like that and: yeah I’m the tax man
Scare white people like as if I was a black man
I’m a naughty motherfucker for Christmas
I was on Santa Clause’s ‘you ain’t getting shit list’
I kill kids and then I fill ’em up with sugar plums and cinnamon
Good evening ladies and gentlemen
I could use your bloody torso to make a lamp
Plug my chainsaw into my guitar amp”

The out of town hip-hop platypus’s voice holds the middle between Edan’s smart mouth and Buck 65’s hazy reflexions. As the record advances, Coolzey’s voice roughens up. He starts sounding like a disillusioned man spending too many blue nights in sleazy bars smoking with his buddies Pall Mall and Jim Beam. His production also takes a twist to the dark side. “Bloody Apron,” dedicated to cheap slasher movies already has a misty cemetery vibe to it, but the final track “Artworld” slides over to a true doomsday mind frame. Coolzey presents us with a future world where art is being sold in Walmart-setting only. Over eerie violins and a powerful bass loop he rhymes:

“I don’t understand kids these days, misbehave
They are going be the ones who put me in my grave
Think about sex, think you’re too much
Thinking ain’t safe, gonna mess you up
Looking for the books that we remove from the shelves
Bad for your health, listening to unapproved music?
That shit’ll get you to hell
That’s we built this store
We got everything you’re looking for
CD’s and DVD’s galore
So tell me: why do you choose to ignore?
Hell, we even made the bands
Picked every member out with our own hands
Made sure they have white teeth and tans”

The short length of an EP can either boost up its strength or hinder its purpose. Since “Soixante-Neuf” is meant as a transition between life or death, I didn’t get a chance to get used to either of them. The dark “Art World” is the most accomplished track on the album, but then show is officially over. If you haven’t checked out the first part of the triptych, “Soixante-Neuf” is for fans only.

Coolzey :: Soixante-Neuf EP
6.5Overall Score