Coolie is an up-and-coming hip-hop/R&B artist who performs custodial duties at North Dakota State University by day and music by night. Drawing on personal experiences, he creates his own music, from the lyrics to the instrumentals. His poppin’ beats and energetic stage presence as well as his ability to freestyle rap have entertained audiences around the nation.
Contributing writer Callie Bowen met with Coolie to discuss his life, his music and his experiences.
Callie Bowen: What inspired you to become interested in music at such a young age?
Coolie: Actually, what got me inspired was my family. My mom, she was into music and stuff and one of the main influences was Michael Jackson … and I started listening to rap through cousins and stuff like that … I started playing around with karaoke machines when I was probably 12 … The first actual rap song I learned was when I had got in trouble in elementary school, and I had got kicked out. I was at home and my mom had grounded me, so I was at home and I was in the kitchen. I was listening to the radio, and I recorded Mase … with a blank tape and I just listened to it over and over … and I wrote all the words he said down … and that was my first official rap …
CB: What artists have inspired you?
Coolie: Eminem is a really big influence behind my music … When he came out, I always paid attention to him. He was very animated and just different … that’s where my speed rapping came from…Also, Eminem, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z … If you listen to them, they just take your mind places. That’s why I love music … It’s like people that like to read. Some people read stories to get out, music does that for me.
CB: Where does your name Coolie come from?
Coolie: My name is Antione Colley … when I was growing up, everyone butchered my name. Teachers, doctors, everyone would call me “An-tee-own Coolie” … all my buddies would call me Coolie … and it was a childhood nickname that just stuck …
CB: You said music became your escape from negative activity from your childhood. Can I ask what kind of negative activity?
Coolie: Detroit, Michigan is not a very positive place … my neighborhood I grew up in, east-side Detroit, was a very rough neighborhood … My parents taught me morals and values, so I was always in a good place with them, but when I would step outside the doors, I was in the world that they couldn’t have any control over … Instead of being out and about in the neighborhood … I sat in my backyard and recorded karaoke … everyone would come over to my house … and play in the backyard all day … it was more safe to do that than leave and go out into the world … When I moved away to Bemidji … it was a culture shock.
CB: How do you think moving to Bemidji has influenced you as an artist?
Coolie: One thing Bemidji has done … it improved my grammar … I had a heavy Detroit accent … I used a lot of slang words … I still use slang a little, but I’m in the middle … If I go to Detroit, I don’t sound like I’m from Detroit. If I’m in Minnesota, I don’t sound like I’m from Minnesota. It’s a crystal clear sound … Everyone I’ve talked to says “that’s what helps you stand out with your music” … When I’m rapping fast, you can understand every single word and syllable … and that would have to be Minnesota-influenced…
CB: In your bio, you said you have perfected a variety of talents…what sorts of other talents?
Coolie: I rap and I sing, I started getting into piano … I’ve always had a good ear for sound … I produce my instrumentals, I write my lyrics … My main flaw is … I can never read scripted music, and I’ve tried a lot … it’s like a foreign language to me … but if you sing something to me, I can pick up on it … I know how to produce my own stuff … I have my own home studio … everything is done by me … it’s just me in the studio all by myself … I like to beat box … one of my things is picking words that are common and relatable, but at the same time clever … I’m comical, and I like to have fun … I’ll get onstage and 70 percent of the time I’m running around the whole area … and while I’m doing that, I’m rapping really fast.
CB: Looking back, what is your favorite memory from performing?
Coolie: Last March, I opened up at the Hub … for Machine Gun Kelly … It was a sold out show … thousands of people … one of the biggest crowds I’ve every performed in front of … I was just blown away by the adrenaline … it was a crazy feeling … I had to do a lot of relaxing techniques … I kept getting dry throat from being nervous so I had a bottle of water and a bottle of tea … I did the “Go Bison” song … It was a packed show … we had fun … that was probably one of my highest moments …
Find out more information about Coolie at www.reverbnation.com/coolie.