Joey Cool: Polished, Professional & Powerful

By: Todd “DG” Davis

Largely known for his more than impressive guest appearance, alongside both King Iso and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, on Tech N9ne’s “Face Off” single, rising Kansas City rap phenom Joey Cool is being hailed as “a hidden gem” within the confines of Strange Music’s diverse roster of talent. 

Joey Cool is just that. Cool. The name is a reflection of his nonchalant bravado and swagger, but don’t get it twisted. Though he may have this effortlessly “cool” persona, Joey comes for your head each and every time he picks up the mic. With a knifing drawl, fleet flow, and dense lyrics, Joey Cool transcends his moniker when he’s on the attack. His unwavering confidence and how he backs it up on the mic is what made Joey a pillar of the Kansas City hip-hop scene. Even before signing, Joey grabbed the attention of Strange Music emcees, boasting collaborations with Ces Cru (who featured Joey on their 2015 EP Recession Proof), Tech N9ne and JL.

Joey Cool, a seasoned veteran with a distinct style and an already deep relationship with Strange Music is what makes his future so exciting. We caught up with the Kansas City assassin to what’s new.

First things first, let’s hop into this single, “Drippin’ Part 3” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?      

I made Part 1 as a single back in 2012 with Burna Music. Then we did Part 2 in 2016, as a part of the Swank Sinatra LP. Then life happened and like, 8 frickin’ years passed. I wanted to make another one way sooner than this, but to be honest, I was waiting for the right production to come along. I had to. A couple years ago, I started working with Mario Casalini pretty closely on different projects. He’s good at studying the artist and doing his research. And I knew he would bring that energy. So I figured I’d give him a shot at creating the new one. We went back and forth a couple times about how I wanted it to sound exactly, then I took it to the lab and…voilà! “Drippin’ Part 3.”    



Of course “Drippin’ Part 3” follows on the heels of “Vibe Check” — Talk to me about this song…    

Also produced by Mario Casalini, haha! I think I sent him somethin’ I heard briefly. It was a random sound or a snippet of somethin’. Then like an hour or 2 later he sends me this beat and was like, “I kept it simple so you can go in on it.” I’m the type of person who’s always gonna make what he feels. So if I wake up feelin’ fresh, swanky, fly, and with good vibes, then dammit I’m gonna write a song about it. I do what I like. I do what I feel. That’s how I live my life. And if you can’t pass that “Vibe Check,” boy stop!      

How then do these two entries differ and / or compare to previous Joey Cool selections?     

I’ll go as far as saying that every track I work on is a culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted to do musically. Anything you hear from me. So whether it sounds like something I’ve done already, or if it sounds like something I’ve never done, the result will be the same. Meaning, it will sound exactly how it’s supposed to sound for someone who’s been creating music for 20 years consistently. I’m at the point where I’m only questioning whether or not I’m still honing my craft like I originally set out to do.         

When you sit down to pen your rhymes, where do you draw inspiration from?     

I draw my inspiration from everyday life. I don’t really fabricate much so it’s easy for me to find inspiration. And when I say everyday life, that includes everything. I could take bits and pieces from a story one friend told me, then piece it together with somethin’ my cousin told me! Or it could just be the beat. Like something the producer had in mind for me already. Sometimes the beat can take you places. It could be something I’m struggling with that week. It could be a milestone reached or a life changing event. A break up. A new connection with someone. Everyday life.     

Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Joey Cool?     

I’ve always been into music. I come from a musical family. I was always dancing, singing, trying to freestyle with my brothers and cousins in the basement, which turned into me freestyling at the house parties in my high school years. While other kids were playing video games, I found myself reading and writing. A lot. I started writing at an early age. Short stories, poetry, etcetera. I would say I started to become more intrigued by it when I was about 16-17 years old. A homie of mine would hand bars to me on a piece of notebook paper during passing periods and I’d finish them during my next class, then pass them back to him. This happened for about a year I think. Then I’d go to the house parties or whatever and use some of the stuff I wrote here and there. So on and so forth. It was a whole thing. Mind you, this whole time I’m playing basketball. That was my first love. By the time my senior year came around, I’m the captain of the varsity team. But I’m falling even deeper in love with music. The homie DK, who is an extremely talented musician and producer – also the first person I ever actually made music with – was a part of a program where they’d allow us to record our first CD ever. It wasn’t great. Hahaha! But it was semi-decent for some kids who really didn’t have any idea what they were doing. Either way that opened a door for me. Spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Shortly after that I made my first adult decision. I told my coach I was done playing and wouldn’t be pursuing any of the offers I had. He looked at me and said, “well maybe you’ll be one of the biggest rappers Kansas City has ever seen one day?!” Me and DK moved to Chicago right after that. We got into Columbia College of Chicago, which is a prominent arts and media entertainment school. Chicago is huge and I didn’t even have a rap name but The Universe still provided. DK linked me with this group called Twin Ent. and they asked me to be a part of this Chicago rap compilation mixtape; yeah, I was in it during the mixtape era, too. I dropped out of school like a year and half in. There was too much going on. Too much out there for me to see. Too much to do. And I knew what I wanted, too. I’ve always known what I wanted. And what I don’t. Anyway, one day I was in the studio with the homies. I was lounging on the couch writing and this dude L.Dot was like, “man, this dude always so Joe Cool about sh*t!” I said, “yeah, there it is! That’s it.” I used that name for like 2 years then my cousin Anthony was like, “yo, you should change your name to Joey. Sounds more like you.” And it stuck. Fast forward. I move back to Kansas City with the knowledge I gained in Chicago and started my journey. Around 2012 I linked with JL and Dutch Newman and started doing the local Hip Hop scene in KCMO. I think that’s around the time Tech N9ne started coming to our shows as well. He was sort of talent scouting a couple of us. Travis O’Guin and Tech offered me a deal with Strange Music Inc. in 2018. I fulfilled that contractual obligation. I just signed my 2nd deal with Strange Music Inc. in March 2024. The rest is history. In the making.     

Now you’re from Kansas City, MO, correct? So growing up in KC, who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?          

Anybody who really knows me will tell you I’m from Kansas City, New York, and Chicago, hahaha! I grew up in the metropolitan area of KC. But I’ve got heavy roots in all of those places. My musical influences reflect my personal upbringing more than anything. For instance my grandfather is my idol. He’s where I get most of my music ability / DNA from. He used to sing in the nightclubs and lounges back in the day in NYC. Crooning and whatnot. I have Frank Sinatra tattooed on my arm. I’ve watched “Devil at the Crossroads” on the legendary Robert Johnson at least 27 times. James Brown and Muddy Waters are my spirit animals.  I study Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury’s voice. My very first show EVER was at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Coming up, I was heavy into Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Common, OutKast, DIPSET, & N.E.R.D. Jay-Z made me want to be a rapper. Tech N9ne was the biggest inspiration because he was so close to us and we could see just how possible it was.     

In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?      

To this day, I’m still not sure, haha! I haven’t even tapped into certain things I’m capable of doing yet. But regardless, what I can promise you, is that it will be polished, professional, and powerful. I’m versatile. And I intend to keep it that way.       

What particular string of events actually led to your initial signing with Strange Music?    

I was invited to go on the road with JL back in 2017. He was going on tour with Tech N9ne. Every night, when he would introduce me on stage, he would tell the audience, “This ain’t no hype man. This is one of my favorite rappers in the world. If you don’t know who Joey Cool is, you will by the end of the set!” Every single night. For 60 something dates. We did a show at The Midland Theatre in Kansas City with Tech N9ne and I remember him calling me late that night like, “yo, I just talked to such and such and uh, they talkin’ ’bout movin FAST on you.” To be honest, I don’t even think I knew it was coming. A couple months later Tech invited me and Burna Music over his house. We chillin’, eatin’, takin’ tequila shots and whatnot. By that time, Tech had already told me that he wanted me to sign to Strange. But THEN he was like, “THEY AIN’T GET YOU THE CONTRACT YET?!?!” I’m like, “nah man! I don’t even know who to talk to about that type of thing, haha!” I’m brand new at the point, too. I don’t want no problems, hahaha! He didn’t even say anything. He went upstairs or to his home office or something, but he was gone for like 50 minutes, no exaggeration. Almost an hour. Then he came back and said, “Aight it’s done. They ’bout to call you.” Next thing I know I’m signing my first contract with Strange Music Inc. That was September 2018.     

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?       

That you can stay true to yourself and still be appealing. That you can still be a real n*gga even though you don’t come from the projects. That you can be educated and still talk that sh*t. That there are billions of people in the world and everybody’s story is different. People’s ears are different. People’s hearts are different. People’s backgrounds are different. But somehow we have to try to remember that we’re also all connected. And that’s where I come in. Just trying to connect the dots. Feel me?     

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?            

This one guy from Hoboken, New Jersey. He was born Francis Albert Sinatra. You might’ve heard of him before. But in all honesty, I could write a book on “why?” Because the man did it “His Way” and that’s something I truly admire. I admired it so much that I adopted the same philosophy and mentality…and maybe even a little bit of his temperament but I’m working on that. Haha!     

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?          

Wembley Stadium in London. 2 words: Live. Aid. I’ve never seen anything like Freddie Mercury’s call and response in my life. Unfortunately I wasn’t born back then so I couldn’t see it live but still. It’s literally one of the greatest things you could ever pull off as an artist. And I fell in love with the stadium because of it.     

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?    

I’m just happy that Hip Hop made it this far. I’m happy to see the global effect it has. I’m happy to see how much it’s impacted the WORLD culturally. I’m happy we just celebrated 50 years. Blessed to be a part of this thing of ours.     

What do you feel has (thus far) and will continue to be the key to your longevity?         

Joey Cool’s Keys to Success: Consistency. Maintaining. Do good business. Stay true to yourself. Keep your integrity intact. Create the best product you possibly can.     

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?    

Yes, absolutely! I’ve always been into the mind and the way it works, behavioral patterns, emotional triggers, etcetera. I have a plan to go back to school and complete my degree in psychology. I’d like to have my own private practice. Also, I plan on getting into management for producers, filmography, photography, DJs, social media, and maybe a couple select artists. That’s actually in the works right now. #StaySwanky     

To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?            

My biggest career moments have been getting chained at Red Rocks, performing live with my grandfather multiple times, and being on this massive song called “Face Off,” with Tech N9ne, King Iso, and The Rock. But to be honest, there are so many more. And much more to come, too.     

What’s an average day like for you?    

It really depends on what I’ve got going on. If I’m in town vs. out of town. Things of that nature. But if I’m at home, I like to start with a quick workout. Then I shower in the dark so I can meditate and block out all noise and distractions. It’s unorthodox but it works. Then I’ll write some rhymes, check emails, etcetera. Maybe I’ll go eat lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Ophelia’s – shoutout my brotha Bobby! See if I’m at home, I’m usually taking it easy. Because I’m always on the road. And it can get strenuous. And if I’m out of town, I like to seize the day. So I’m up and at ’em immediately, hahaha! Really just depends.     

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…     

My fans know this about me. If you ever come to a show, keep your eyes open. Because there’s a huge possibility you’ll catch me walking around the crowd. Usually headed to the bar. I stop and talk to fans, shake hands, take pics, listen to stories, sign things, etcetera. It’s just how I am. How I’ve always been. I’m humbled by my fans. Especially in person. It’s beautiful to see complete strangers show you so much love. The world isn’t always like that. Music loves.     

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?     

My favorite part of (it) is what I said above. My least favorite part of it is the online stuff. My mother and my brother Info Gates – God rest his soul – played a big part in helping me with this because I was TERRIBLE at it before. But, I’ve had to train myself to not look at comments. To not respond to negativity. Sometimes I think people forget that we’re not robots. We’re human as well. I also don’t like it when someone tries to tell me what’s good and what isn’t, haha! It’s like…compared to who?! You!? Someone who’s never attempted to create a song. Learn about structure. Learn about projection. How to record. How to perform live. How to win people over. Hahaha, there’s a lot that goes into this thing. There’s levels to it.     

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?    

I usually tell them, don’t do it. Don’t do this unless you’re ready to sacrifice your life, your time, your family, your relationships, your jobs, your sanity, your privacy, your health. Just don’t do it. Because if any of this scares you, you’re not dreaming big enough and you aren’t ready. This isn’t for the weak. You have to develop thick skin more importantly, you have to believe in yourself more than anybody in the entire universe. Even when it seems impossible. No one ever sees the big picture clearer than the artist.     

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?         

Overseas performing songs from my entire catalog for Joey Cool fans. Then retreating to my secluded waterfront property in Italy to hang out with my daughter, Lyric Amore. Yeah. That’s it.     

As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Joey?     

New album. New contract. New vision. I’m really just focused on building my brand as effectively and efficiently as possible. I’m also trying to make a Joey Cool Tour happen. That’s in the works.     

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?       

I’m not too sure, haha! It was pretty thorough. Touché.     

Lastly, any “parting” words for our readers?     

I’ll leave you guys with one of my favorite quotes from the GOAT: “I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.” – Frank Sinatra