Photo by Clayton Hauck

In 2008, Midwestern rappers Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll, better known as the Cool Kids, were all set up to become the next best thing. But after the rap duo’s highly praised 2008 EP, The Bake Sale, the Cool Kids just sort of faded away into the woodwork. Where have Reed and Ingersoll been these past three years? Well, for the most part, they’ve been suing people: “Record labels just set a bad precedent for doing right by artists,” says Ingersoll. “You kick a dog like fucking 20 times, the 21st time he might bite you.” Ingersoll is the more talkative one of the two, handling most of the conversation at Cornerstone Promotion’s New York offices while Reed sits quietly, piping up every now and then to prove a point.

The Cool Kids is vague on the lawsuit that’s marred the last three years of Ingersoll and Reed’s lives. What’s clear is that the duo had some major disagreements with its former label, Chocolate Industries. Ingersoll will say that the lawsuit was more about artists’ rights than money. “Why make an album that is just cool or just to make money? That shit is uncomfortable to me. I can’t go to sleep at night just doing shit to do it.” It’s not about paychecks or label politics for Ingersoll. He envisions a world where labels stumble over themselves fighting to sign artists rather than the other way around. So, to set an example more than anything else, the Cool Kids signed to Mountain Dew’s Green Label. Green Label had no experience releasing a full-length album—which is just how the Cool Kids wanted it: “It’s all worth it because we could do the album in a totally different way than anyone else has done it.”

With their new album, When Fish Ride Bicycles, Ingersoll and Reed want everyone to know they aren’t just about gold and pagers anymore. Now, the Cool Kids has bigger things on its mind, like reigniting the young art: “All I want to do is shake stuff up so it gets interesting again,” Ingersoll says. “I would hate growing up in this generation. There ain’t no Super Soaker, ain’t no Nintendo 64s, ain’t no Hot Wheels. There ain’t any of this shit that made us, that even our parents thought was cool.” As kids grow up now, the internet sometimes acts as a stupefying agent. “Why would you want to invent something when you got an iPad 2?” Ingersoll says with scorn. A good point. Why would a kid want to make beats or write lyrics when he can just play Angry Birds?

“We’re living in a time where people are just comfortable,” Ingersoll says. “People just want to make their money and be safe and not try anything.” That lifestyle doesn’t cut it for Ingersoll. “I don’t got shit so I don’t care, and even if I did—so what? I’m alive! If I lose money then I’m smart enough to make it again. I’m not really tripping; therefore, I’m not scared of shit. Therefore, I will make a record that sounds like I’m not scared of shit.”

The Cool Kids of 2011 is not the Cool Kids of 2008. The duo has grown up, and the guys want you to know it: “We want to give off the attitude of, ‘Look at us now. You thought you knew us, but now you don’t know. Now you don’t know what we’re gonna do next,” Ingersoll says with a grin, “and I like that kind of suspense.”