Cochise, Mr. Professor of Trap Sounds

COVER

Cochise

Mr. Professor of Trap Sounds

By Gabby Sgherri

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If you want something to be done, you have to do it yourself,” says Cochise (pronounced Ko-Cheese) confidently over the phone. The proverb-like statement is not a testament to his lone-wolf mentality but rather his studied musical expertise which extends to his production as much as his lyrics and vocal experimentation. “If you like your eggs a special way and you go to Dennys and the eggs don’t taste like [that] it’s like I don’t wanna go to Dennys anymore—I’m just going to do it myself. That’s the same way I look at it with certain beats.” On the mic, the 24-year-old Florida native delivers boisterous bars over beats textured by vocal inflections and ad-libs akin to an instrument—it’s chaotic and controlled simultaneously. Over the phone, he’s just as energetic and his effervescent personality shines through in conversation making his good vibes infectious. He wields the power of non-verbal communication with the strength of the many Anime characters he references because whether he’s playing with tone for music or conversation—it’s not just what he says, but how he says it.

If you’ve been on TikTok in the last two years, chances are you’ve come across Cochise’s music, whether it was his 2020 hit “Hatchback” or his 2021 platinum-certified single “Tell Em” featuring $NOT. The latter gained him mainstream name recognition, over 300 million streams on Spotify (and counting), his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, and the coveted Lyrical Lemonade treatment with a Cole Bennett-directed music video. Then, TikTok producer u/vmeshbeats remixed “Tell Em” with Young Nudy’s song “Yeah Yeah” creating another viral sound that only added to the song’s popularity. Call it happenstance or TikTok imitating life but almost a year after the remix Cochise released his sophomore album, The Inspection, with none other than Young Nudy as a feature. “I don’t think [Nudy] even knew that I’m the one on the mashup, nor do I think he really cares,” Cochise says with a lighthearted laugh, “but it’s just cool to be able to make [the] mashup a reality.”

 

If you want something to be done, you have to do it yourself,” says Cochise (pronounced Ko-Cheese) confidently over the phone. The proverb-like statement is not a testament to his lone-wolf mentality but rather his studied musical expertise which extends to his production as much as his lyrics and vocal experimentation. “If you like your eggs a special way and you go to Dennys and the eggs don’t taste like [that] it’s like I don’t wanna go to Dennys anymore—I’m just going to do it myself. That’s the same way I look at it with certain beats.” On the mic, the 24-year-old Florida native delivers boisterous bars over beats textured by vocal inflections and ad-libs akin to an instrument—it’s chaotic and controlled simultaneously. Over the phone, he’s just as energetic and his effervescent personality shines through in conversation making his good vibes infectious. He wields the power of non-verbal communication with the strength of the many Anime characters he references because whether he’s playing with tone for music or conversation—it’s not just what he says, but how he says it.

If you’ve been on TikTok in the last two years, chances are you’ve come across Cochise’s music, whether it was his 2020 hit “Hatchback” or his 2021 platinum-certified single “Tell Em” featuring $NOT. The latter gained him mainstream name recognition, over 300 million streams on Spotify (and counting), his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, and the coveted Lyrical Lemonade treatment with a Cole Bennett-directed music video. Then, TikTok producer u/vmeshbeats remixed “Tell Em” with Young Nudy’s song “Yeah Yeah” creating another viral sound that only added to the song’s popularity. Call it happenstance or TikTok imitating life but almost a year after the remix Cochise released his sophomore album, The Inspection, with none other than Young Nudy as a feature. “I don’t think [Nudy] even knew that I’m the one on the mashup, nor do I think he really cares,” Cochise says with a lighthearted laugh, “but it’s just cool to be able to make [the] mashup a reality.”

 

I know what I like and I’m gonna talk about what I like because, at the end of the day, when these cameras shut off, I gotta deal with myself. So why would I deal with myself as a character?

I know what I like and I’m gonna talk about what I like because, at the end of the day, when these cameras shut off, I gotta deal with myself. So why would I deal with myself as a character?


The Nudy-assisted song, “Nice”, is full of Cochise’s trademark bouncy vocal modulations which at their core are an extension of the ab-libbing style popularized by Atlanta trap artists like Migos, Young Thug, Jeezy, and Gucci Mane. “That song was not even supposed to be on the album but I ran into it and I was like, wait a minute, Nudy would sound nice on this. So my wonderful brother, my manager, has some great connections with Nudy, and Nudy knocked that thing out in one session,” shares Cochise about how the collaboration came to be. At first glance, you may think the pairing is unlikely but upon closer inspection, you’ll understand that the repetitive nature of Cochise’s modulations is complementary to Nudy’s Southern trap flow. The eclectic beat, produced by Cochise and his cousin Lousho, favors video game-like sound effects reminiscent of Nudy’s 2019 song “Shotta”. 

The nuances and technicalities of making music tend to fly over the average listener’s head but to understand Cochise’s success is to understand the saying the devil is in the details. “How I look at music [is] I like to use my voice as an instrument. You know how they got them old classic Jazz music? They be sounding nice and sexy, then the saxophone solo comes in and it’s like wow. I want to be that saxophone solo but I’m gonna do it for like a minute and 45 seconds, basically over the whole beat. So if the beat goes high, Imma go high. If the beat goes low, Imma go low. You want to make sure [you’re] as artistic as you can be with the beat because the human ear follows sounds.” Cochise’s maverick approach to the way he uses his voice leverages sound making his music more compelling and likely to catch the ear of even the shortest attention spans. However you don’t have to dig deep to understand him as a person, it’s all in his lyrics.

 

 

 

Before this was a job, this was me enjoying myself so I always want to stay enjoying myself.

Anime references such as the overt song title “Sanji” and his signature Patois tag (yo Cochise, a weh dem a sah?) scattered throughout his catalog are expressions of his identity—namely, his love for Japanese animation and his Jamaican heritage. “I’m just big on being realistic as a person and making peers know it’s cool to be yourself. I know what I like and I’m gonna talk about what I like because, at the end of the day, when these cameras shut off, I gotta deal with myself. So why would I deal with myself as a character?” Cochise says matter of factly. The willingness to be himself, with no hesitation, is what makes him stand out in the heavily saturated genre of hip-hop often juxtaposing anime or video game culture with street culture. “He got one in the head, a Beretta / I’m on 2K in the rec with a center,” he raps on “Sanji” referencing a bullet from a Beretta gun and the NBA 2K video game in the same breath. It’s also what makes him likable and an inspiration to those with whom he shares similar interests. 

There’s an overarching concept that informs everything Cochise does in the studio and it’s relatively simple. “I want to have fun at the end of the day. On some of these songs, you can hear [my] excitement from getting a certain saying off. It’s all about enjoying yourself, if you got one life [then] in this one life when you got a job—you wanna enjoy it. Before this was a job, this was me enjoying myself so I always want to stay enjoying myself,” says Cochise freely as if he’s explaining a mission statement. His pursuit of enjoyment, confined only by the delineations of his character, tends to evoke the same exuberant energy and feeling of fun in his fans. “​​Cochise is having a great evolution even if all he does is [have] fun for now. Makes my evening full of energy, especially now, after work,” commented u/Scre4meh on the user-based review forum, albumoftheyear.org, under the discussion for Cochise’s The Inspection album. Further down, u/Pyrexreviews echoes the same sentiment commenting, “I really had a lot of fun with this record the beats are absolutely stellar” and u/swifty30 shares “this album was so enjoyable lol the funnest I’ve heard this year. The production was super energetic and I love his voice as well, pretty cool range.”

A source of joy for Cochise came from the features on The Inspection which aside from Young Nudy boasted Chief Keef and three rappers from the London-based collective House Of Pharaohs (Sam Wise, BlazeYL, Mally). “I was excited to be able to collaborate with somebody that’s on legendary status as Chief Keef. He’s been one of the biggest young pioneers for a minute so to be able to hop on a song with him is also rare. I was just excited and I didn’t care what he talked about, I made sure I’m not gonna lie and talk about the stuff that he talks about [laughs]. Imma make sure I talk about my regular stuff [and] that I’m being real with myself because I’m gonna be lost in the sauce if I’m not being realistic,” Cochise explains. As he said earlier, the human ear follows sound and that’s exactly what makes his song “Hunt” with Chief Keef such a good collaboration. The menacing piano keys and eerie sounds in the beat are on point with Chief Keef’s lean era and Chicago drill style of mumble rap. Chief Keef’s verse is further complemented by Cochise’s ad-libs and high-pitched bars proving sound is more important than the subject.

 

 

Similarly, it’s the same basis of sound that makes Cochise’s song “Don’t Run” featuring the aforementioned UK artists, Sam Wise, BlazeYL, and Mally, the perfect fusion of UK and US rap. The decision to feature them was motivated by a personal reason as well. “Those dudes I’ve been listening to for years. So I always had that mindset that was like, yo, once I get a couple [of] eyes on me and I get me a big [project], Imma make sure I show them love because I’m a person that looks at little stuff and [I] be like you helped me with this somehow, I want to include you. It’s just giving out the same energy that they gave me, even if they didn’t know that they gave me that type of energy. With them, those dudes are talented guys.” The back and forth between the British accent-drenched bars and Cochise’s individual style makes for a captivating three minutes and 15 seconds of unbridled rap energy. 

Much of Cochise’s infectious appeal stems from the way his personality and character manifest in his music. The vivacious production reflects his energetic spirit, the idiosyncrasies in his lyrics unabashedly display his interests, the featured artists show his personal taste and influences and the ab-lib inflections mirror his speaking style—often changing his tone or enunciation to add zest to his words during our conversation. Last but not least his stage name was inspired by the character of the same name from the 1979 action movie, The Warriors about a fictitious New York street gang trying to make it back to their turf after being framed for the murder of another gang leader. Cochise was a character in the Warriors gang and stood out because “He was just saucy, he had ‘em damn boot [and] he had a different swagger. Especially for a black dude to be dressed up like an Indian, it’s a tad bit rare to see that especially back then because they were wearing disco pants and shit. So to see him be different out of all them and be sauciest I was like nah, I gotta be like him,” Cochise says, explaining what he likened about the character to himself. For some people, names are arbitrary labels that don’t speak much to their intrinsic qualities or characteristics, but for Cochise, his name fits perfectly as the last piece of the puzzle in understanding his musical identity.



Photographer: Amine / @uhhmeann


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