Troof is Hornier Than Fiction

Vice Cooler AKA Hawnay Troof on his sophomore LP, 'Dollar & Deed'<br/><br/>PULL QUOTE: ""I got bored being isolated and being a person who preferred pizza over meth.""<br/>

Feature by Bram Gieben | 15 Jun 2006
Hawnay Troof is the alias behind the alias of 21 year-old Vice Cooler, a native of Mobile, Alabama, now making some beautifully twisted hip-hop in Oakland, California. His look is all Beck – floppy-fringed and wide of trouser hem, he projects a similar air of out-of-time lounge cool. Musically, he hits more like the Beastie Boys, circa 'Licensed to Ill'; his voice a nasal scream that bends itself uncomfortably around beats and fills so leftfield, they recall everything from Aphex Twin to hardcore punk. Like a crazier Har Mar Superstar, and much better looking, Vice Cooler is young, gifted, and on a musical mission, each song a musical and personal manifesto.

The interview starts badly, so I assert that his music is noisy; "I grew up with three brothers," replies Vice, "So you had to be loud to be noticed. But I have to say I feel that my stuff really isn't noisy. Compared to a lot of music I listen to, I play straight pop!" A fair enough point – his delivery is adrenalised, abrasive, but there is always a hook, melody or rough beat to hang from. Compared to say, Wolf Eyes, his stuff is ambient jazz. I ask about the title of his sophomore LP, 'Dollar & Deed'. Where did that come from?

"I got the idea from a protest I was at where a man had a sign that simply stated: 'Vote with every dollar and every good deed.' All of a sudden a lot made sense to me. I always agreed with that statement but it just took that moment to make it more magical. I really wanted to present a challenge for myself. Part of that was realising, 'VC, you had a choice as a child to become a complete clone of your parents in search of a crummy dollar, or do your own thing, based on being as good a person as you can and following your destiny.' My parents are fried. They are poor, totally in debt and hate everything. I didn't want to become that. So that is part of the title." Fine sentiments; young Vice has been kicking against the pricks from an early age: "I grew up in the south. Obviously I got bored being isolated and being a person who preferred pizza over meth. Me and a few of my friends got really active making cassette tapes and zines. We would put out a compilation every summer for three summers. We just wanted to be as active as possible and I feel really fortunate that I ended up being able to do that at such a young age and carry it into early adulthood."

The Hawnay Troof show is an intense, sweaty experience, with Vice attracting attention from both sides of the gender divide. Leading on from the chorus of We R We ("I like the boys and I like the girls / That's why I get the best of both worlds"), I ask who is most likely to get naked at his live shows: "At my last London show two boys started boning on the side of the stage." An enthusiastic reaction, to say the least!

To untrained ears, 'Dollar & Deed' may sound rough-cut, aggressive even, but behind the explosive poly-rhythms, broken instrumentation and filthy bass, behind the Mike D whine, Vice Cooler is making politicised, virtuoso music for the people: "When you create, you are making an expression that is totally necasary," he asserts. "But I beg people to not live by my words! The whole point of what I do is to present it like; 'Yo, I did this, I made lemonade. You can too.' I really hope that you can make your own lemonade also. Or limeade, whatever ade it is that you want." I ask him if he has any advice for Skinny readers, and he replies: "Listen to yourself." Listen to 'Dollar & Deed' as well, and enter the sonic world of Vice Cooler. It's great lemonade.
Dollar & Deed' is out in June, on Southern Records.
Check out for sexy pictures and tour information.