Cold Men Young
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Cold Men Young

Detroit, Michigan, United States | SELF

Detroit, Michigan, United States | SELF
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Video recap of Cold Men Young's trip to SXSW 2011 - Cold Men Young Productions


Cold Men Young presents the video for group member Kopelli's lead single "Caught My Eye" produced by The Olympicks - Cold Men Young Productions


Video of Cold Men Young with live band House Phone at 2011 Metro Times Blowout - Video - Throwback Media


Blowout may be over and done with, but for two of the bands that played during the Thursday night line-up, it’s far from forgotten. Waxgordon – four big bald punk rockin’ dudes and Cold Men Young – four fast-as-lightning hip-hop mavens were the two stand outs for me that night, and I indicated in my Music Blahg recap of the night. I specifically said, “I want to see (Cold Men Young) on a bill with Waxgordon. All bands should do what I want.” Lo and behold, After reading my post and connecting with each other via Twitter , the bands ARE doing what I want. May 7th at Small’s the world will have the opportunity to see a hardcore/hip-hop mash up like no other. Waxgordon will also be releasing their new song, “Pour It On Paper” which features a jaw-droppingly rad guest spot by Cold Men Young’s Microphone Phelps aka Young Phenom. The track sounds like Fugazi after a week long energy drink binge with a melted hip-hop center. I talked to Waxgordon frontman Pete Koneda, Cold Men Young’s Microphone Phelps and “Pour It On Paper” producer Mike Chav (Erykah Badu, D12, Eminem) about the whole experience.

Metro Times: Had Waxgordon and Cold Men Young been familiar with each other before the MT Blowout?

Microphone Phelps AKA Young Phenom: No. We heard about Waxgordon through your Thursday night Blowout write up on the Metro Times Music Blahg, def glad we did hear about them though.

Pete Koneda: I had seen the name around and I knew that they were a rap act from Detroit, but that was the extent of it for me. I did see that they were playing the Blowout and that there was a quite a buzz about their performance which made me curious, but since we were playing the same night and our set times were pretty much butted right up against each other at different venues, I didn’t get a chance to check them out. But, after I heard how they killed it, I was in full investigation mode and found out what that buzz was all about. They ain’t no joke.

MT: Do the guys in Waxgordon listen to a lot of hip-hop?

Pete: Actually, I listen to a lot of hip-hop. Big fan from way back from the first time I heard ‘Rappers Delight’ by Sugar Hill Gang as a little kid. Our drummer Dave (Melkonian) is also a huge fan of rap. Lumpy and Mark, not as much. I know they dig it and appreciate it, but I don’t ever hear them pulling up to rehearsal rockin’ Birdman or Gucci Mane.

MT: What about Cold Men Young – do you guys listen to much punk?

Microphone Phelps: No, we don’t USUALLY listen to punk rock. However I have been to a few punk rock concerts and have heard some punk rock albums, and they’ve been dope!

Mike Chav: I listen to a fair amount of everything that I deem “good.” I don’t get caught up in technicalities of genres and sounds. Music is more about energy to me. If I resonate with it than I’ll listen to it. I work on a lot of hip-hop, but I’m not easily impressed. Jay Electronica is the benchmark for me right now. When I started getting into music at seven or eight, I listened to early hip-hop. I started playing guitar at 13 and began to gravitate more towards the indie/punk/metal worlds. I still listen to Fugazi and Sonic Youth pretty regularly.

MT: Tell me about recording the song “Pour It On Paper” – how did that go? Did it feel natural, was it a challenge, etc?

Microphone Phelps: The song felt really natural. When I heard the track, I knew it was a certified “banger.” Finally getting to lay it down with the Waxgordon guys was great. Our energies matched up and we seemed to all just fit right into the puzzle of what we were supposed to do. It was a classic case of Jack The Ripper (inside joke)!

Pete: We actually had “Pour It On Paper” written a few months back. What’s funny is that when I wrote the lyrics, I thought “Wow, these sound like rap lyrics!” When the show started to come together, we thought that a Waxgordon/Cold Men Young collaboration would be a great addition to throw in on the package. After bouncing around ideas, Blaksmith from CMY had the idea of one of them jumping in on our track. He said Mic Phelps aka Young Phenom was the one for the job. When he came over and recorded his verse I about shit myself. Not only is he talented as hell, but the attitude and statement of what he laid down fit the song like a glove. It all just fell together effortlessly. We are really crazy excited about this track, it’s on a different level from anything we’ve done before. Then to have Mike Chavarria on the production end of it, the level of excitement is off the charts. Chavs talents are like a super-deluxe cherry on top. We hope everyone else digs it as much as we do.

Mike: Dave from Waxgordon brought me the song to mix and I didn’t know what to expect. I was definitely hit by the energy of this song particularly the vocals. When the song gets to the rhyme it elevates the song even further. I’ve never heard a collab quite like this so it was a pleasant surprise. I’ve always held the opinion that punk and hardcore - Metro Times


The four young emcees of Cold Men Young are crammed into a dining booth at Woodbridge Pub. Half-empty glasses of Ghettoblaster beer litter the table. It's 9 o'clock on a frigid winter night and the bar is packed and noisy. The guys are tired but jovial; if you didn't know they'd come together as a collective two years ago, you'd think them childhood pals. Inside jokes and jabs color conversations between the Deep Talk, which touches on everything from The Green Hornet to Rick Synder's questionable sense.

The Cold Men Young project began in 2009 when four poets with hip-hop ambitions — Lawrence "Kopelli" Young, Miles "Phenom" Stewart, Chace "Mic Write" Morris and Brent "Blacksmith" Smith — crossed paths at open mics around Detroit.

Young says, "You know the scene in Anchorman where they have the newsman gang fight in the alley? We were all just in the alley just spitting bars." He stops, laughs, and then he adds, "Nah. Mainly, we saw each out at the poetry spots and the hip-hop spots and we all admired what each other were doing and we started coming together just for fun. The chemistry was so crazy that we knew we had to make it official."

So the Cold Men Young guys took their intense, floorboard-rattling sound up any avenue that'd have them, grass-roots style. "And a lot of people just need a laptop and mic and they have the means to release music," Morris says. "Technology is a mofo nowadays. A lot of people can be self-sufficient without having to go the rigors of the old-school model."

It's true, hip-hop radio is obsolete; it can't touch YouTube in terms of speed and the option to exercise personal choices to discover what's fresh, and all without interference of radio programmers, major label marketing, payoffs, etc. Detroit's latest rap darling Danny Brown proves it.

"To be able to release a single on the Internet with no physical copies pressed up and have it disseminated through the blogs and the Internet has been crucial," Young says.

Buzz rose around Cold Men Young after live shows won them huge word-of-mouth in Detroit. Soon things became serious — after recording in fits and starts over the course of a year, the crew's debut, Champagne Nights, Red Stripe Budget, hit the streets last April. The record featured beats from local up-and-comer producers such as Sheefy McFly and Jay Norm, and was anchored by clever and authoritative verses, serving up personal snapshots of everyday lives.

Because Cold Men Young's music hits on personal levels, it's getting wider attention. There's a connection, and listeners become fans.

"Yeah, I don't have a Maybach, I don't have a mansion," Young says, smiling. "I can't press a button to hit you with a hollow tip." Everyone laughs. "I know I can go home and fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." Morris adds, laughing: "That's something everybody knows right there."

Most songs on Champagne Nights, such as "Det Riot," with its unadorned beat and witty rhymes, promote fist-pumping. McFly's beats are lean and stripped, Norm's more crate-digger crafted, funkier. But instead of sounding brain-dead (who can forget D4L's "Laffy Taffy"?), they're catchy and give up space for interesting wordplay.

The band's taste in beats rises from the crew's collective eclectic tastes, all born of their musical backgrounds as kids.

Morris grew up on his aunt's classical music, his mom's old-school R&B, his brother's classic hip hop and even a slice of MTV pop and rock. Young's mother, besides raising him on a diet of soul and R&B, also exposed him to Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Charles Mingus and all the best in avant-garde jazz. Stewart and Smith both gravitated toward hip-hop early on.

Champagne Nights is a record that's beyond most hip-hop radio fodder in terms of intelligence and wit. The group says the record just sort of rolled: "It wasn't really a mixtape or an album," Morris says. "It was just a project. That's the best way to explain it. It was so grassroots. We just did it with what we had and everything just fell into place."

Cold Men Young have generated considerable buzz in a short time. "It's been two years," Morris says. Smith chips in: "It's been a blessing. There's been people rocking for a while and in two years we get to put our project out with limited funds and we get a lot of love.

"Year by year, things continue to grow for us. Part of that is our own work ethic, to try to reach higher. Last year, as a group, we had goals like: 'We're going to play the Blowout, we're going to do South by Southwest. We're gonna do all that shit.' And, here we are this year doing it."

CMY are Blowout candidates to bridge some of the cultural gaps in Detroit music — they've been getting equal love from both sides of Eight Mile.

"It's funny," Smith says. "We could go to Rochester Hills and perform in front of nothing but white folks and they will love it. They will know all the words and they will dance uncontrollably. And we can go i - Metro Times


Video: Performance & Interview - RFW/Throwback Media


June 2010 - www.rapreviews.com


October 2010 - Real Detroit Weekly


September 2010 - Real Detroit Weekly


Discography

2010 - Champagne Nights/Red Stripe Budget LP
2010 - Nametag Featuring Cold Men Young "When The Mic's On"
2009 - Leaked EP

Photos

Bio

As Detroit’s first black mayor, Coleman Young had to hold his city together through crime, racism and economic challenges throughout his five terms in office. Those issues still plague the city more than three decades later, and Cold Men Young—the rap group of Blaksmith, Kopelli, Mic Write, and Microphone Phelps—are making their mark through music and activism instead of politics.

“We really wanted a name that was synonymous with Detroit,” Kopelli remembers. “Mic Write had the ingenuity to make Coleman Young’s name a play on words, and it stuck.”

Before the four members combined to become a group, they had each been making noise throughout Detroit’s open mic, slam poetry, and battle rap scenes. After experimenting with spot-by-spot collaborations, they officially joined forces for an album after admiring each others’ talent and work ethic. Award-winning poet Mic Write contributes song ideas and vivid imagery, Blaksmith captures attention with his booming voice, Kopelli lends catchy hooks and female-friendly rhymes, and Microphone Phelps showcases raw, unadulterated bars. The four combine to make energetic, crowd participative live performances and emotive, conceptually-deft records.

“We’re blessed to be able to link with that many other people on the same wavelength, and still translate that through music. That synergy has been instant and faithful,” Mic Write admits.

Michigan hip-hop heads have felt the same way. By combining their individual supporters with new inductees into the Cold Men Young brand of hip-hop, the group had built a large, loyal fan base of listeners and sponsors months before they released their debut album, Champagne Nights/Red Stripe Budget. Once the project officially dropped in April 2010—anchored by concert favorites like the rowdy “I Can’t Hear Myself Think,” the gritty “Det. Riot,” and the ladies’ anthem “Aurora Borealis”—it received thousands of downloads, a spot in reputed Detroit journalist Kelly Frazier’s 2010 Top 40 for The Loop, and nominations for three Detroit Rap Awards. The album’s success also helped the group nab coveted performance slots in Metro Times Blowout, the US Social Forum, and South By Southwest.

The group also makes a point to contribute to positive causes as well. Their performances have helped raise thousands of dollars for an earthquake-devastated Haiti, the Benefit Lifestraw initiative to make clean drinking water available to people throughout the world, and more.

Still, Mayor Young himself said, “You can’t look forward and backward at the same time.” With that in mind, Blaksmith is pushing his January 2011 offshoot project Passalacqua, while every other members’ solo music continues to materialize nicely. The official sophomore project from CMY, which they describe as an angrier, more mature version of Champagne Nights, is also in the works. If their first term is any indication, Cold Men Young will be in office for a long time – By William Ketchum