“Are you f*%in’ with Joe Cool?” Towards the end of his highly-anticipated mixtape debut, Cooley Hi, the Louisiana rapper/producer can be found asking that very question. With a mindset somewhere in between a baby-faced freshman, hanging around after school to gain acceptance, and a broken soul standing on a ledge 40 stories in the air, the MC blindly finds himself on the verge of something remarkable. But the potential outcome of either mentality leaves everything in question.
Yet, this very state of mental purgatory is what makes the music amidst Cooley Hi so astounding. While most rappers opt to either omit their intricacies or channel them for the wrong reasons, Cool seems to move simply so his mind stays defrosted. Take the ambient beauty of “Cheeba,” for instance, where over some low-resonating bass and polite key strokes, Joe speaks from the gut about how unwanted responsibilities and reality checks that can’t be cashed leave him looking for the E & J. Or, on “Celebration,” where he openly wonders what happens when we all start vying for the same prize and end up looking like broke, snap-back-wearing clones. But the inner-struggle of an independent musician is most evident on “I Wanna Sell Drugs,” where the same would-be results lead him to play devil’s advocate towards everything he knows is right, simply because it may be the only ladder out of the maze he’s currently confined in. Hell, even on the outlandish, would-be single, “MK Ultra,” Joe uses his nasally, ’90s throwback flow over a pitch-bending synthesizer and 808s, seemingly to show he can still blow out your sub, in spite of his typically sample-based production we’ve become accustomed to hearing from the multifaceted artist.
With so much to prove to himself on this tape, Joe Cool ends up proving to everyone else that his blue collar style is indeed good enough to compete with whomever he chooses, whether it’s himself or anyone else. Specifically, when we live in a time where fame and fortune are can be such a quick come-up, and his progressive prerogative is hell-bent on success for all the right reasons. For that, not only are we f*%kin’ with Mr. Cool, we plan on doing it for quite some time.
Download — Joe Cool – Cooley Hi Mixtape