Kooley High

posted September 03, 2009 12:00:00 AM CDT | 27 comments

For every rapper that equates success by the dollar amount in their bank account, there’s another who sees the bigger picture. With Kooley High, it just so happened that six individuals from North Carolina all shared this same common trait. Formed while they attended N.C. State University, Kooley High includes three emcees (Charlie Smarts, Tab-One, Rapsody), two producers (Foolery, The Sinopsis) and a deejay (DJ Ill Digits). Together, they have worked their way up the Hip Hop food chain, starting out initially as an on-campus club, to forming their own independent record label, and now sharing studio sessions with veteran producer 9th Wonder.

Dropping their latest mixtape this past spring, entitled Kooley Is High, this crew is on the path to releasing their debut album The High Life in early 2010. DXnext had the opportunity to catch up with Kooley High, who spoke on the album, their growth as artists, and some solo projects.  

Influences: Jay-Z [click to read], Lauryn Hill, A Tribe Called Quest [click to read], 9th Wonder [click to read].

North Carolina Is Outside Of The Box: Rapsody explains, “I would say the North Carolina sound is a melting pot. It’s like a mixture of the north, south, a little bit of the west too. Also, it’s influenced by a lot of places, like Atlanta, Florida, etc. It’s just fun music.” Charlie Smarts adds, “It’s a state in the Hip Hop world that doesn’t have an identity, because it takes from everywhere else. There’s a bunch of different sounds; there’s still dirty south elements, and then you got upbeat soul, and then everything in between.Tab-One concludes, “There’s a lot of different flavors.

Growing As A Group: Tab-One says, “There’s a lot of things we’ve been through as a group as well as a lot of different experiences of just working with music more and figuring out our song writing process, which is the best way to translate our ideas. We keep getting better at it, and we keep striving to do more. We’re not trying to get comfortable, we’re trying to keep progressing.The Sinopsis explains, “Like for instance, Rapsody. Her style has changed about 20 times. [Laughs] But it’s her work ethic; she’s honed in on the ability of making music. It’s about quality control.

Their Documentary, One Day: Rapsody states, “Napoleon came to us about the idea. He wanted people to see us outside of music. How do these six people come to be a group? Because you know, we’re different races, religions, and we all like to do different things, but we’re all connected through Hip Hop. And I guess that was the central focus.” Napoleon Wright, II (director/producer of One Day) adds, “It kind of speaks to how we were all involved in the process. I feel like it was a success, and it was a great look for Raleigh because we told a story from that perspective.”

On Their Debut, The High Life: The Sinopsis explains, “We have a good chunk of it done, we’re just waiting for the right moment. We might be looking for somebody to help us put that out. We’re waiting on a situation that would be perfect for us. In the meantime we’ll keep hitting listeners with free music to keep them satisfied until we drop The High Life.” Charlie Smarts continues, “When the situation is perfect, then we’ll release the album. You ain’t gonna get no Detox and be waiting like, ‘Yo they ain’t gonna put out the album!’ Naw, we gonna put it out soon, but we feel like we should get distribution.” Tab-One adds, “We got one label that’s interested. They got the demo in their hands and their listening to it. So right now we’re waiting to hear their response. If that doesn’t work out, we’re just gonna keep on grinding and see if we can find a situation. We’d love to have that bump from distribution. We in this to make music, but we’d love to sell some music too.

Solo Projects: Charlie Smarts says, “I released a joint called f’alex. If you look at it, it says ‘f’ Alex.’  So in a girl’s mind, they’re like, ‘I wanna f’ Alex,’ while in a dudes mind they’re thinking, ‘F’ Alex!’ The project is based upon relationships, loving, and lusting, and it’s just a fun album. If you listen to this album, I guarantee you will smile.” Tab-One says of Tabloids, “I got Napoleon on Tabloids producing and singing, as well as Foolery. With this project I just wanted to do something that reminded me of the Hip Hop that I grew up listening to, like Black Star [click to read], The Roots [click to read], and A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a real personal record. It’s about me as an emcee, as well as a person.Rapsody states, “My tape is called Prelude To The Return Of The B-Girl. I’m thinking it may be out by October. Basically, it’s taking it back to the fun B-girl, like the MC Lyte [click to read], Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah-type [click to read] female rappers. Today I see a lot of the more sexual female rappers who do the ‘bang bang shoot em up’ records, but I’m really not that hard of a female emcee. It will have a few original tracks, but I also take records from like Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill and rap over them. There will also be a few 9th Wonder productions, as well as guest appearances.”

Doing It The Kooley High Way: Charlie Smarts contends, “I’m in this to see the whole thing get better. I’m hoping to one day inspire cats, and be at a level to where people will be like, ‘I heard your tape and I created something really dope.’ I think we can get to that level if we keep extending our market.” Tab-One ends, “There’s no reason to front; just make good music, and make sure when you do it, you’re speaking to people.

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