Joe Cool was born Terrance Donell Brown in Chicago, Illinois. When he was 15 he moved to Louisiana and started producing and recording music, for himself and others. Joe Cool’s first mixtape, Late Departure, has only 68 downloads on Datpiff; Cooley Hi, his new album has more than 27,000. That is a direct testament to his persistence and hard work. If for nothing else, I respect his tenacity and devotion to the craft of his art.
Right away, my impressions of Cooley Hi were favorable. There is a cool intro track where Joe Cool opens with the introspective: “All these conversations in my mind/like am I really living or am I just wasting time?” The next track dives into what we can expect for the majority of the album: incredibly cool tracks. They are laid back yet have a degree of excitement to them; Joe Cool raps considerably well. His lyrics are vibrant and clearly understood. I beg the comparison of a Kid Cudi/Wiz Khalifa hybrid. Though he talks about women, money, and drugs, we also find him talking about life, the difficulties of being an underground rapper, and the hardships of growing up in the South Side of Chicago and Louisiana, as discussed on the track “Louisiana Sky”.
Joe Cool does most of his own production work: of the fifteen tracks on the mixtape, only four are produced by other artists. The production work is surprisingly good for an underground artist. The track “MK Ultra” opens with a hilarious sound byte many people will recognize from a cult classic movie. It then jumps into a bass bumping, swag filled song that I could see being prominent as a single. It’s a fun track, but the best tracks on this album are where Joe Cool sounds like he is enjoying himself the most, and appears most comfortable rapping. These would be his more laid-back songs. “I Wanna Sell Drugs” speaks with purity when Cool raps “All I got is a dream, and a laptop that’s full of beats/and I did them shits myself, I trade them for something to eat”
There is something incredibly likable about Joe Cools style, whether it is his sincerity or his smooth flow. He embodies his name, which is admirable in a rap game full of sellouts and wannabes. Simple Joe, Cool Joe: I hear within this mixtape the stepping stones of greatness. With a little more work and finesse of his talent, Joe Cool could go on to do incredible things. He will continue to grow and learn as he is exposed to, and appreciated by, more and more people. Every person I introduced this album to had favorable things to say about it. Cooley Hi is honest and cool.