One song a week, each with a different producer, for twelve consecutive weeks, for free. That’s the plan Coolzey is employing for his latest album, *Coolzey and the Search for the Hip Hop Hearts – Volume 1: He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper*, which started making its way onto the net earlier this month on adamsworldblog.com, abovegroundmagazine.com, and psrecords.net, and onto the radio on Billy’s Hip-Hop Slam on WFMU – New Jersey. This week, which is the third in the series of song releases, RapReviews caught up with Coolzey to find out more about the project, why he’s giving it away, and what led to one of his former musical partners putting MC Paul Barman in a headlock.
Adam Bernard: Let’s start by talking about *Coolzey and the Search for the Hip Hop Hearts – Volume 1: He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper*. What were the brainstorms like that led to the decision to release this album one song a week for twelve weeks?
Coolzey: Well, I really like challenges, and I get bored easily. This seemed like a huge challenge because I’m also working 60 hours a week and playing in like five bands, plus the songs are collaborations, so, you know, it’s hard to get people on their game like that. I also have to preface these answers by saying I have a horrible hangover right now and my brain hurts. Twelve songs is a good album length, I think, plus it would be a summer thing, you know, three months; May, June, and July. I really hope I can pull it off. There has been some last minute scrambling. So far I’m way into the results.
AB: You’re not just releasing a new song a week, you’re writing and recording the song, as well as having a video created for each song, every week. Is this your normal creative process, or are you hoping to spark something different by doing things this way?
C: I don’t have any sort of normality or routine in my life. I work with lots of people, so I’ve become very adaptable. I like to be conducive to fun and creativity. This is my stance when approaching the mic, or any situation. I like not knowing what is going to happen. I think I’m the opposite of most people, who want to know what’s next and why and how and when. I don’t give a shit about that, I just want to know what’s up now, motherfuckers?
AB: Each of these songs feature you rhyming over a different producer’s track. Who are some of the beatsmiths you’re working with?
C: So far I’ve got Will Tell (Brooklyn Academy), Insight, JRawls (Lone Catalysts), Alex Newman (Giant Panda), Headnodic (Crown City Rockers), and Panik of the Molemen down, and have been in dialogue with a few others. I don’t have the whole lineup yet.
AB: Does doing a song a week make you feel rushed, or is it more cathartic?
C: It feels like school. I like that, I kind of miss school. I worry a little bit about putting out something that isn’t dope enough, but so far I’ve been really pleased. My favorite part of music is the creative process. I think people spend too much time slicking their songs up. I love listening to practice tapes recorded on boomboxes, poor mixes, and bad stereos. I’m trying to stay honest with my approach toward music. People are too worried about shit, I’m just trying to have fun.
AB: What exactly are the Hip Hop Hearts you’re searching for?
C: Oh, it’s not really that serious. It’s just a nice frame for a picture. I like to work with everybody that I can click with. These are all producers whose beats I dig. I’m just looking for cool people that like cool shit.
AB: You’re releasing these songs free for download on a number of sites (mine included). You’ve released music for free in the past, as well. Have we reached a period in music history where music almost has to be free, and if so, will we ever be able to get back to having music being a sellable commodity?
C: I feel so amazing giving away my music, I can’t imagine going back to charging for it. I’m reading a book right now called *Man Alone,* which explains how capitalism alienated man from himself. When labor became a commodity instead of a duty in the industrial age it was the root of all the existential dilemmas man faces today. Plus, I don’t want to go around scrounging for five bucks, ten bucks, 99 cents. I’d rather be broke than have to even think about that. I throw away all receipts, spend all my money, and live day to day. I’m not about to become a wage slave. I work for immediate means, but I can take or leave the work. I don’t need much to survive. Most people think they need this and that. I don’t get it. I like giving stuff away, or throwing it away. It’s a ridiculous thing to me, possession. Don’t get me started on that.
AB: I think the z in Coolzey might stand for Zen. I know you also have a very interesting personal history. What did you learn from all your experiences touring as a member of The Sucka MCs in the late 90’s?
C: Learn? Yeesh. Well, I think I learned how small the world really is, how crazy everyone is, scared everyone is, and how ridiculous everything is.
AB: I know you have some CRAZY stories from the road, one involving a headlock and MC Paul Barman. Can you share that one?
C: Sure. The Sucka MCs did some East coast shows with Paul Barman. One was in Boston at the Middle East. It was sold out. We rocked it. It was a good show. Afterwards I was by the bar talking to a cute girl and she said “hey, weren’t you in a band with that guy?” and she’s pointing to the stage. I look up and Kevin Sweeny, aka Humpy from the Suckas, has drunkenly raided the stage during Barman’s final song, wrenched the mic out of his hand, and put him in a headlock. Well, I come to find out that Kevin had also been trying to sell Barman’s merchandise for beer money. They were very mad and we narrowly avoided a fight. Whirlwind Heat was also on the bill. Barman’s people said we could only play the show the next night at the Knitting Factory in NYC if we left the show after our performance. So we agreed. At the Knitting Factory I gave Barman a very sincere hug and apologized in a shrugging manner. I think he understood that we were idiots. I have a great picture from the green room of Kevin Sweeny hanging out with Whirlwind Heat that I like to look at.
AB: That’s awesome! Since you’ve been making music for quite a while now, how do you feel hip-hop has changed for the better, and/or for the worse, since those days?
C: I don’t really consider myself an authority, because in reality I’m not big into genres, but I think it’s changed for the worse in that it’s been exploited and raped by ethic-less capitalist douchebags, and because it’s become a style like goths, or something where everybody wears the same clothes, talks the same way, shit like that. I think, like all original ideas, it used to be something where people expressed their originality, but now it has become tamed and broken, for the most part. I’m not trying to sound down, but any time you categorize something and set up rules for it, dogma sets in and corruption begins. When people bring cold calculation into creation, rather than just being truly inspired and compelled, it’s the natural state for them to dissolve and become fertilizer for new flowers, new ideas. Everything has its place.
AB: Finally, I know you’re kind of new to Twitter, but who are some of the most random people you follow, and why do you follow them?
C: I don’t know if it’s good to say this, but I don’t follow Twitter really at all. I get online for a total of maybe an hour or two a week. I check my email and facebook, do my work, and get off. I love the fact that all this stuff exists, don’t get me wrong, but I’m super into like the sun, trees, houses, music, movies, playing basketball and swimming when I can, going for walks, making mixtapes, playing guitar and drums, having a good meal, talking to the people around me… my eyes start to cross when I look at a computer screen for more than 15 minutes. I think Twitter is great though, and so is Facebook, which I use more often, for checking up on people really fast without social pleasantries. Oh, I do follow Raashan Ahmad and Pigeon John when I do log on to Twitter, because I like them dudes. They are great guys and they always make me laugh, except I don’t know what John is talking about most of the time.