The Underground Experience 12/16/21 Celebrating 10 Years of the Underground Experience Feature from The Underground Experience ...


This month’s feature is Rowdy Raliegh collective ready to take the mantle Real Hip-Hop……..let’s check out Kooley High!!!!!!!

Mistajay: What is the story and conception behind your Group and artists individual names?

Charlie Smarts: Lanna dubbed us Kooley High. I got Charlie Smarts while living in the Dorms of NCSU.

Foolery: My government name is Thomas. When I was in high school my girlfriend used the phrase 'Tom Foolery' one day. I had never heard it before and was like, "Huh? Whats that?" I adopted it as my stage name, and then later dropped the 'Tom.' Its just Foolery now. It fits because I like to fuck around, talk shit, and have a good time. Its also helpful because if you're name is Foolery it's a constant reminder to not take yourself too seriously

Tab One: Tab-One stems from the initials of my real name, Taylor Amick Burgess. I just threw the "One" on because I thought it was cool. The jury's still out on that.

Mistajay: What area are you reppin?

Charlie Smarts: Greensboro, Raleigh, Brooklyn, The Innanets.

Foolery: I am from Raleigh, NC USA, but have been blessed to go to many different places and make friends. I have family in DC; I lived in Brooklyn for a while; I have friends abroad. Raleigh is what made me though.

Tab One: My family, my friends, NC, & planet earth.

Mistajay: What are your influences of your music? And what inspires you?

Charlie Smarts: Imagination and reality influence my music.
Sun when there is none, Fun when my friends come, Love makes my pen run till it bumps cray and then some

Foolery: Truth, beauty, pain, love. I'm a big fan of artist that do what they feel, what comes naturally to them. I also love artist that can create art that makes you feel a certain kind of way, even if it might be a negative feeling; the fact that they can pull that emotion out of you is inspiring.

Tab One: Good music in general. Documentaries & good books. I'm inspired by stories of perseverance. People that came from nothing & turned it into something.

Mistajay: Your history here in NC starts with NC State do you feel that that the college environment was fertile ground for your growth as artists?

Charlie Smarts: Yup. That’s where we got our first taste that we could rock for our peers and they would feel it. No coming back after that.

Foolery: College is that time where you can find out who you are as a person and figure out what you want to do with your life. That process is always an ongoing one, but college was a really good start to that. I think that we have all grown a lot as artists since the college years, but that was the start of it all. That was when we found each other and started building something as a group. That was the spark.

Tab One: Definitely. If it weren't for NC State we may have never crossed paths. It gave us an environment to bounce ideas off like-minded people. We certainly grew from the seeds we planted in H2O, our student hip hop organization. That's where we learned the ropes & got a taste of how to throw events, put together albums, etc. I'm thankful for it.

Mistajay: Your collective has been described as a combination of The Fugees, Common, Mary J. Blige, and Hieroglyphics as lyricists and How do you describe your style?

Charlie Smarts: Fresh Vintage. Like the Dodge Challengers when they came back. Classic style with a new flavor.

Tab One: All of those comparisons are incredibly humbling & I'm sure not everyone would agree. It's hard to put it in a box. We're open to trying new things, whether it's new styles of beats or new rhyme schemes. I feel like we're in a constant state of evolution. The goal is not to stay stagnant. Other than that, I'd say our style is butter. Real butter, not that margarine stuff.

Mistajay: You have recorded several projects the most recent being David Thompson What is your best song recorded to date and why?

Charlie Smarts: There you go. People Love to Love Love songs. As do I.

Foolery: Honestly, I still think that 'Kooley is High,' the title track off of our sophomore mix-tape, is one of the best songs we've ever done. That one always resonates with people. I felt like we definitely hit another level when we did 'Somthin Outta Nothin' on Eastern Standard Time, in terms of how the emcees bounced off of one another and the straight-up musicality of the song. If I had to choose a favorite off of David Thompson it would probably be 'Drop a Dime (If They Get On).' That shit is next level.

Tab One: It's hard to pick one. "Kooley Is High" seems to be a fan favorite. Personally, I like "David Thompson", the intro cut off the new jam. I also really like "Drop a Dime" & "Same Ol Thing" off David Thompson. I think they show a growth from our earlier stuff.

Mistajay: As indy artists what do you think some of the benefits are, if any, and some of the difficulties of being Independent?

Charlie Smarts: Freedom of Innovation whether it’s a musical or a business decision. There’s no boss to say you can’t try something.
Difficulties arise from smaller market awareness and multiple job responsibilities. Charlie Smarts: There’s no boss that can connect you with another level of listeners and opportunities.

Foolery: The benefit is that you get to make all of the decisions. The difficulty is that you have to do every damn thing for yourself.

Tab One: The benefit of being indy is you get to do everything yourselves. The difficulty of being indy is you get to do everything yourselves.

Mistajay: I see that you guys have opened up for J.Cole, Wale, Pac Div, Tanya Morgan, Ghostface, Skyzoo, and 9th Wonder If you could share the stage with any 3 artists or bands who are still around and touring that you haven't performed with, who would they be and why?

Charlie Smarts: Kanye West, N.E.R.D., The Roots... I'm a fan and there would be loads of people to be introduced to the crew.

Foolery: My three? Kanye West, The Roots, and Drake, because I enjoy all of them as artists and they each have a devoted fan base that I hope would be open to our sound.

Tab One: I'd say The Roots, Black Star, & Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. I'd like to jam with all of em.

Mistajay: Speaking of 9th wonder he recently had a write up about Hip Hop in NC and one of the main points where that the competition was outside the state and not within basically saying that we need to support are own as artists and develop your brand what are your thoughts about this as well as your own advice for indy artists and fans alike?

Charlie Smarts: I agree. We try to re-establish our brand every time we put out something out. Indy artists need first of all to make good music, then look at other artists and learn from their mistakes and successes. Fans need to support the music they like. Come out to shows, watch the videos, tell their friends, buy the merch. Same as it's always been. David Thompson is available on iTunes.

Foolery: My advice for Indy artists: Take time to hone your skills, put together quality projects, then use the internet. Put out videos. Make connections with people in other places. Get on the road. Go to other cities. Network. Hop on whatever bill you can early on. Don't perform at the same open mic night, at the same venue, in the same town every week, and then wonder why nothing is changing. Nobody is going to know who you are unless you go introduce yourself to them. Also, build a team. Find a visual artist. Get a graphic designer, a photographer, a video person. Get yourself a quality DJ and start working on throwing your OWN live events so that you and your team can get a little money in your pockets. And don't be afraid to do the not-so-fun parts of this business. I just got in from putting up 200 posters for an upcoming show, and it was COLD outside. You think I wanted to do it? No, but I like selling out venues, and that is part of the equation.

As far as the fans: Just know that you guys are voting with your dollars. Wherever your money goes, and this really applies to anything in your life, whatever you are spending your money on, you are perpetuating. So make sure you are voting for things that make your life better and things that you want to keep going. Support how you support, but make sure you are honest with yourself. A lot of people say "I can't afford to buy music nowadays." And then I see those same people drop $40 at the bar on any given night. Some of y'all spend money on a lot of pointless stuff. All I'm saying is, think about it. Where are your votes going? Every dollar you spend on someone gives them power. Who do you want to empower? Starbucks and Anheuser-Busch, or an artist who resonates with you? And if you find yourself not voting at all, you need to reevaluate how much you love this art and the people who are working to create it.

Tab One: I never look at music as a competition. It's an artistic expression & because of that, we should all be supporting each other. Music's also subjective so, we may not all like each other's music. If that's the case, it's better to say nothing at all & just keep doing you. My advice for fans would be to buy Kooley High's shit! If you do, you'll be rewarded handsomely with an energetic & entertaining live show when we come to your town since we can afford to from the Kooley High shit you purchased.

Mistajay: Where do you see hip hop going in 2012? How do you see yourself fitting into that?

Charlie Smarts: Hip Hop is DIY. Get popular on your own or make an impression with your own work and then others will come along to help make a business out of it. Sound-wise I feel like there are so many styles that can be viable. Choose one.

Foolery: I like the way things are going. It seems like genuine artistry is on the rise again. People are mixing up a lot of sounds, but the end products are still sounding very authentically hip hop somehow. In my opinion 2011 has been a great year for hip hop, and I'm looking forward to contributing to the movement that is taking place.

Tab One: No idea. We'll be there somewhere though

Mistajay: What are your future plans?

Charlie Smarts: Bout to try and write a short film.

Foolery: I plan on continuing to make music and to build the Kooley High brand. I also plan on stepping out a little more as an individual to show people who I am, in the hopes that they will get to know me a little better.

Tab One: Making good music, staying in touch with my fam & friends, & trying to enjoy life.

Mistajay: Any last thoughts?

Charlie Smarts: I feel good that women can dig our sound as well as the fellas.

Foolery: Much love to everyone, everywhere, but especially to YOU because you read this whole damn interview. Thanks for having us.

Tab One: Thanks for reaching out to Kooley High. Eyes open & head up. This world is crazy. Peace

Where can fans follow you and get your music?

NEXT MONTHS INTERVIEW QUAN!!!! Celebrating 10 Years of the Underground Experience Feature !!

Mistajay is doing a monthly interview featuring the underground experience on the blog and would like to interview you for this new post please contact to publicize any new projects that you have coming up thanks for your time. Donate or pay $50 dollar interview fee below!!

Pay NCC Records INC using PayPal.Me (connect this URL: Pay NCC Records INC using PayPal.MePay NCC Records INC using PayPal.Me Go to and type in the amount. Since it’s PayPal, it's easy and secure.