Joey Cool had several ideas when he was searching for a title for his debut album. The rising Strange Music rapper decided on something that is more than just a catchy slogan.
“When it came down to it, it was just like the epitome of the album is just my name, Joey Cool,” he reveals. “That’s what it is. The whole album has a real cool vibe. It’s laid-back for the most part, but it’s got a little bit of everything at the same time.”
On the sonically smooth and wistful “Handle Of Jack,” for instance, Joey Cool talks about how his time is coming and provides listeners a look into one of his guiding philosophies. “One of my good friends always told me everything in life is about decisions,” Joey Cool says. “It’s about making decisions and taking those chances, to where you’re actually able to do something like this professionally. It was a huge, huge risk, but it was a chance I had to take.”
The results of Joey Cool making the most of his chances appear throughout Joey Cool. On the high-octane “Hard,” he connects with labelmates Tech N9ne and JL for a mind-blowing lyrical exercise. Joey Cool and JL kick the song off with a remarkable tag-team rapping performance. “JL and I actually walked around writing back and forth for like a good two, three hours for just that first verse,” Joey Cool explains. “It worked out well. We perform so much together and kept that in mind, how it would be to perform it on stage. It’ll be something fun for everybody.”
Joey Cool explores other sides of his personality on the harder-edged “Under Pressure.” Here, he raps about how he’s been down and out, and that he had to have thick skin in order to survive. “A lot of people know I wear my heart on my sleeve,” he states. “I’m not one to bite my tongue about stuff like that. It was therapeutic more than anything. I like the vibe of that whole song. It’s got that old school feel.”
Things get ethereal on “Fall.” Joey Cool gets introspective on the atmospheric cut and details how he needs people in his life to tell him something useful. For him, it’s not about being polite. “In any relationship, whether it’s friends, family, girlfriend, the only way to make it grow is if you’re being real with each other,” Joey Cool says. “Telling somebody something, they can either take it this way or that way. I try to take it to so that I can grow, so I want people around me that are telling me useful things, like don’t do dumb stuff. I don’t like dumb stuff, stuff that doesn’t make any sense. I hate explaining myself more than once.”
Joey Cool examines other things he doesn’t like on the provocative “Stranger Things.” On this caustic collaboration with Ces Cru, Joey Cool raps about the type of world he wants, one with unity. Instead, he sees death, hate, and confrontation. “That’s actually one of my first songs I’ve ever really made like that, where I’m being really blatant about political topics,” Joey Cool says. “Then obviously Ubi came on there and did his thing. He’s a real intelligent dude, so I knew he would be great on there.”
Elsewhere, on the album-closing “Family,” Joey Cool takes a deep dive into his personal life. He raps about being dishonorable, comments on his mother having a successful career, and talks about the ups-and-downs of his relationships with his family members. Beyond the subject matter, the song is special because it features his grandfather, who has been singing for 60 years, crooning on the cut. “I wanted him, my mother and my daughter to have that,” Joey Cool says.
Joey Cool’s family surrounded him with music as a child. Born and raised in Kansas City, his grandfather, uncles, and aunts were heavily into music. By the time he was 11, he started writing poems, daily observations, and short stories. He also dreamt of becoming a rapper.
At 15, he started writing his own raps. When his high school years were coming to an end, music was consuming him. The aspiring rapper hit the studio, and got help from a friend who was going to school for audio engineering. By age 19, Joey Cool was all in. He was dedicated to becoming a recording artist. He’d fallen in love with music: listening to it, studying it, making it, and performing it.
In order to build his name, Joey Cool started performing as often as possible in Kansas City. Tech N9ne happened to see him perform and was impressed. “I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my live performance,” Joey Cool says.
Joey Cool then started working with and recording with such Strange Music acts Tech N9ne, Ces Cru, and JL. His lyricism was on full display in 2015 on Tech N9ne’s “Life Sentences” song from his Special Effects album, as well as on Ces Cru’s “Off The Hook” from its Recession Proof EP. Joey Cool also delivered a standout performance on JL’s “Catch A Wave” from his DIBKIS album in 2017.
In addition to his strong relationship with Tech N9ne, Joey Cool is grateful for the bond he had with the rest of his labelmates. “Ces and JL have always been big homies to me,” he says. “JL is like my brother. Rapping with those three dudes, you learn that you’ve got to stay on your stuff. You’ve got to be on your toes rapping with those guys because they’ll eat you up real quick.”
Now that he’s ramping up for the release of Joey Cool, Joey Cool knows that he still has to put in a lot of work in order to achieve his long-range goals. “People think you’ve made it. I’m just thinking like, ‘Yeah. I’m just getting started now.’ It humbled me a lot, but I know I have a lot more to go still.”
With Joey Cool about to arrive, Joey Cool wants his debut album to give fans an intimate look at his life and mind. “I want it to explain me,” he says. “I wanted to convey all the things that are me and put it into one project. I hope people can learn something about me, and can look forward to the next one, as well.”