Golden era hip-hop roots planted in black Iowa dirt, tempered by 90s alternative era rock influence, yields a juxtaposition of the dark, horrific nature of life paired with a slapstick and comedic view of the world, allowing for a wide, unpredictable arsenal of material ranging from soul-spilling indie bedroom rock to wise-cracking battle rap and on to radio pop.
Coolzey stepped into the public eye around 2005 with a demo album and a series of exploratory DIY tours with rapper/comedian and friend Schaffer the Darklord. Interest spread quickly and Coolzey found himself touring alongside hip-hop legends from Brand Nubian and Jurassic 5 as well as punk rock heroes like Dead Milkmen. Coolzey’s first album ‘The Honey’ was released in 2010 and second official full-length ‘Hit Factory’ in 2013. In these albums as well as in a number of EPs, collaborations and side projects, he finds his niche as a songwriter, navigating hip-hop, rock, punk and pop in the spirit of genre defying influences such as Ween, Beck, The Beastie Boys and Outkast.
Coolzey’s love for multiple genres can also be evidenced in his record label Public School Records, which curates music from grimy underground hip-hop like Bru Lei and DJ PRZM of Spitball to the pop punk ear candy of Lipstick Homicide. In 2014 Public School Records partnered with Fake Four Inc’s Four Finger Distro to bring the label global distribution.
Review of HIT FACTORY – Little Village
“‘Life Without You’ features his almost Bowie-esque crooning about lost love. Then he samples the slow jams for some hyperactive verbal gymnastics and a smooth hook he sing himself. ‘Glasses’ is based on a raw sawtooth wave bass with a filthy drum loop, and THEN ‘Yr Gonna Get Us Killed’ sounds a bit like Dinosaur Jr. ‘Pay Me Slow’ is redolent of anthemic urges recalling The Pixies. (He has) an unselfconscious hyperactive fluency, as though having a half-sung, half-chanted conversation with his audience is as natural as breathing.”
Review of HIT FACTORY – Persephone Magazine
“Mixing hip-hop, rock, and punk, Coolzey’s Hit Factory has the catchiness of a great summer record, lyrical smarts, and a sense of humor. Having seen him live, his recorded self captures the energy of his performances, while still allowing for additional production.”
Review of COOLSAY EP – Edenshour Blog
“Coolzey’s talents cover a broad scope. He’s one of the few people I know who can seamlessly weave between genres so convincingly and without a hitch. In one of his shows you will feel like you’ve just seen at least 5 different bands each play a couple great songs. He raps, rocks, croons, and can even slay AC/DC’s Back In Black in a manner that Brian Johnson would be damned proud of. ”
Review of THE HONEY – INFLATABLE FERRET
“The Honey has the boyish rap charm that could have come from an 18 year-old recording tracks with friends in a college dorm room. His lyrics are subtly smart, though unassuming. And like many good rap albums, it shows off Coolzey’s deep appreciation for jazz, hip-hop, and the occasional film of the past. His neo-old school beats and jazz samples shine through.”
Review of THE HONEY – OKAYPLAYER
“The Honey is a delightfully odd EP from Iowan emcee Zachary Lint, otherwise known as Coolzey. It packs more ideas into 10 tunes (nine songs and an interlude) than most artists would attempt over two albums. But it’s Coolzey’s humor and kaleidoscopic vision that’s the main attraction.”
Review of THE HONEY – URB
The Honey at a glance seems like another good’ole fashioned ten song hip-hop album. Upon further inspection, it becomes quite clear that there is a little bit more going on. Coolzey shows that he is funny, quirky and knows his history. The Honey does offer some pleasant surprises to the listener. Coolzey finds himself singing on a few of the tracks and it actually works fantastically. As far as guest spots, Copywrite, Raashan Ahmad (from Crown City Rockers), William Elliot Whitmore, Schaffer the Darklord and even the legendary Sadat X contribute.
Review of SOIXANTE-NEUF – 60 SECOND REVIEWS
When I first saw this CD in my mailbox I had no idea what to expect. The album had no tracklisting and no picture of the artist on the cover, just some artwork and a sticker that said it was the second EP in a series. After listening to it I’m looking forward to the rest of what’s to come. Coolzey has a unique style all his own.
Review of THE HE DID EP – HIP HOP CONNECTION
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
Though aligned with a clutch of backpack rappers and indie rockers, Des Moines farm kid Coolzey grabs the scratches/intelligent sideward lyricism steez by the lapels with a little more straightforwardness. Crucially, he also tolerates nothing below massively fun production. The first sign of potential greatness is the clarity within ‘Mentality’; after professing daily disgust for mediocre rappers he drops the gem of advice “Take women for instance: the minute that you stop sweatin’ ‘em/Man, you’ll be gettin’ ‘em”. This man speaks the truth. Throw in help from cool-as-whisky-slugging bluegrass dude William Elliott Whitmore on the atmospheric epic “Trees and Dirt” and you’re suddenly rolling so lovely.”
Review of THE HE DID EP – OKAYPLAYER
“Vocally, he comes off sounding a bit like early Justin Warfield. Coolzey not only produced his own beats but did the turntable work on here, a self-contained artist who is very confident about how he wants to present himself and his music to the world. It would be interesting to see what he would be able to do with other producers, but a full-length album with nothing but Coolzey-beats would certainly make it one of the must-have releases of any year.”
Review of THE HONEY – EXCLAIM
“Throughout the record, Coolzey’s raps are mostly delivered in a simple old-school style that embraces funny wordplay and battle raps when not reminiscing on days gone by, although he also goes in for a couple of sing-song jams with funky first single “Look” and folksy album closer “Old Machine.” But it’s the minimal, chopped-up beats Coolzey creates with his MPC 1000 and the occasional grouping of musicians that make this release most worthwhile. The bass lines are thick, the drums banging and the sample choices bold, with tracks like the polka-sampling “Ride” and feedback-heavy instrumental “By the Time” readymade for an MF DOOM appearance. The Honey is a fun, experimental throwback to hip-hop’s past.”
Review of THE HONEY – ALRIGHT I’M WRONG
“Mash Biz Markee, Weird Al, and Slug’s personalities together; you might end up with something along Coolzey’s lines. Listen to “Little By Little” and try not to want to befriend him. Listen to “Retina Scan” and remember why you fell in love with hip hop in the first place.”
Review of THE HONEY – RAP REVIEWS
“Overall, “The Honey” is an inescapably charming and well-produced album. This WHITE IOWAN is, first and foremost, an extremely gifted producer (which is how I imagine he linked up with established MCs like Copywrite and Sadat X, both featured on the album). Cool’s beats are consistently both head-nodding and inventive. Perhaps more impressive than this producer-MC’s beats, though, is his ability to dabble in various genres. Most of the album is straight hip-hop. But on “Look,” he mixes rap and alternative rock, channeling Beck in his “Devil’s Haircut” days. I’m not sure if Coolzey has a naturally good singing voice, but his vocal production on “Look” is so on-point and he is so at home in his talk-singing over “Look”‘s driving and experimental noise-heavy musical backing that his natural abilities don’t much matter. On “Old Machine,” the best song on the record, and one of the best songs of the year so far, he takes his cues from Midwestern folk, singing like Mason Jennings better than Mason Jennings does over lo-fi, wandering electric guitar and clunky, monotonous snare.”
Coolzey blurb for San Francisco show – LOUDFARM
“The samples this guy pulls out are incredible, and they make you feel like the first time you heard Big Daddy Kane or KRS-One. The redundant nature of radio hip hop these days makes the genre less than exciting, but Coolzey’s throwbacks to the days before auto-tune was the standard are a welcome break..”