Rapper Chuck Inglish—one half of former hip-hop throwback project The Cool Kids—has spent most of his career helping pave the way for young Chicago MCs who came of age in the digital era. Over the last decade, he's mentored and produced for the likes of Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Currensy. He’s lent an ear to Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, Vince Staples, and Earl Sweatshirt, among others. Chance the Rapper even flew to L.A. to crash on his couch while making his first mixtape #10Day.
On October 2, Inglish released his second solo album on his own imprint Sounds Like Fun. Aptly named Everyone’s Big Brother, the record reflects on mentoring young musicians and how his own voice and music have evolved. Chicago chatted with Inglish about the album, his love-hate relationship with the Internet, and why the best place to listen to music is in the car.
The album is called Everyone’s Big Brother. Can you tell me about the meaning behind that title?
I went to see a shaman this year, just to try to experience different realms of this Earth and see what things were about, and I had a deep moment at an ayahuasca ceremony—which is like a natural DMT brew—and that’s where the title came from. As creative as I’ve been in my career, that ceremony was like an internal search. It was an out-of-body experience. So I had to make sure this album was from the heart, and that title really encapsulates how I see myself.
The album is based on your relationships with a lot of younger rappers. Tell me about some of those.
With Chance and Vic, it’s been amazing to see. I can’t even remember when I met them. Chance and I had a personal connection when we first met. He came to L.A. for the first time and crashed on my couch, and we worked on #10Day together. Pretty much the whole scene in Chicago—there’s not one person I didn’t stick with to see what they’d turn into. I don’t even know what the name of that feeling is. To see Chance go on his first arena tour like two or three years after we were running out to get chicken nuggets between writing tracks—I have to hold onto that memory.
Who’s the latest “little brother” you’ve taken under your wing?
There’s this guy from Detroit named Helios Hussain. I just signed him to my label. He did this song called “Confetti,” and it’s one of the illest songs I’ve heard. It was really well done visually and conceptually, but the meaning is what crossed over. I’m a kid from the east side of Detroit too, and his style and the way he packages what he delivers to you is really true to who that is. I feel like he’s one of those people that everybody is really going to connect with and gravitate towards because he has a story. You can’t replicate that.
So who was the big brother figure for you?
Unfortunately, I didn’t really have anyone like that. I learned from my dad, from my mom, from my uncle, but I never had that extra guidance. And that’s part of the title, too. I’ve never needed anyone. Not that I haven’t asked, I’ve just always made things happen on my own. And if I can make it happen then I’m going to share it with the people around me.
I've read that you make your music for the car. What's that like?
I’m always just going to get a car wash. That’s when I digest music the best. It’s for those rides that don’t have to go anywhere. It’s me in the car with the passenger seat all the way back and the AC on full blast. It’s for those solo moments.
What’s the last album you listened to in the car?
Drake’s What a Time to Be Alive. But I’ve played Toro y Moi’s Samantha in the car like 35 times. That’s so fire in the car. Some of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard, I heard them in the car first: Kris Kross’ “Jump,” Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin But a ‘G’ Thang’, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s first album. The road and music just make sense to me.
You talk a lot about music being overpopulated or diluted. Could you elaborate on that?
Being a collector of music is dead. If you wanted to check out someone’s records, you’d have to look on their laptop, and that doesn’t mean anything. There’s no personal selection. You can’t feel it or hold it, but you can have it any time you want to. People wanted more, and now they’ve got too much of it.
But at the same time, the Internet helped to catapult your career.
Yeah, but at that time the Internet was so new that people didn’t think we were a real group. It was like being the first to a party that hadn’t started up yet. Not to say that the Internet wasn’t instrumental—it was the only angle we could work. Now it’s so common that people can’t even envision music pre-Internet. If we came out on Soundcloud now, it wouldn’t have been anything monumental.
What advice do you have for artists who are just starting out and have to push through that overpopulation?
You just gotta believe in your idea like it’s all you have. Just relying on talent won’t do it, but if you have a vision, I haven’t seen one artist fail.
What can we expect from you in the future?
There’s another album that I’m very passionate about, and I have a book I’m writing that’s going with it and a small film collection. I’m also doing a full compilation for Sounds Like Fun. I was inspired by The Neptunes Present…Clones album when I was in college, and I always said that when I make my label I was going to make a compilation for it. That should be out around the top of the year, and it’ll be called Sounds Like Fun Presents: WAARP Radio Vol. 1.
I really want to work with Tame Impala, Quadron, and Kehlani. I sort of want to model my career after Rick Rubin and make some of the most classic albums, but for other people. My own work will be more of a personal thing.