Back in the day, rappers met on subways and in parks, and battled with mics and turntables powered by street lights. Antoine "Mikey Rocks" Reed and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll—a.k.a. the Cool Kids-met on the Internet. And in those graffiti-free environs, the Chicago-based duo created a refreshing mix of old-school innocence and futuristic beats that makes hip-hop's current fascination with death and money seem instantly passé. Their debut EP, The Bake Sale, is out now.
DIMITRI EHRLICH: You guys, along with artists like Kid Sister and Flosstradamus, seem to be bringing back the fun and innocence that rap had in the late '80s. Do you see yourselves as part of this whole "ghetto nerd" mini-boom?
CHUCK INGLISH: We're just being ourselves. That so-called Golden Era is the music that got me addicted in the beginning, so it's in my DNA. And it's just always been a hobby of ours to make music that makes us happy, and excites us when we make it.
MIKEY ROCKS: But we definitely look up to other artists that are doing something creative, and trying to do it in new and innovative ways.
DE: You're music has been called "retro-rap." Do you feel like you're straddling the line between futuristic and nostalgic?
CI: I think writers just can't come up with any new words for what we're doing, because we're not "retro-" anything. Like, in "Gold and a Pager," we're not talking about what was current-pagers were cool to us, but they never stopped being cool; people just stopped using them. So, I think that's the line we're on. We're doing new stuff, and creating our own lane, and we want people to see that.
DE: Well, the "retro" thing isn't only your music. It also has to do with your fashion sense. Is Day-Glo the new black?
CI: You say what?
DE: Day-Glo-you know, the really bright colors.
CI: Oh, I don't know, man. Like I said, we're never like "Yo, this was really dope, like, back in the day." We're just like "This is dope."