It would be hard to sit in “Mr. Official Whistle” Cool V’s work space and not imagine you’re in Batman’s secret hideout, The Batcave. iMac computers, HD cameras, the best DJ equipment accompanied by state of the art recording devices–this is the epicenter of where this legendary marketing consultant, DJ, promoter, producer, talent scout, A&R, writer, and motivational speaker orchestrates his plans of industry-wide generosity.
V was excited to share this exclusive interview with SoulTrain.com; on the day of, however, the New York-native Virginia resident found himself under the weather. The CEO of Rated Next Brand and Divas On Deck; Director of Marketing for Juicy Media, LLC; Marketing Director for RW Record Pool and 504Dymes Magazine, Trunk Hustlers founder, and otherwise insanely busy do-all was not about to live down his “Industry Insomniac” moniker. Known for punctuating his proclamations by literally whistling, he sharply toots air after saying, “I’d have to be dead not to do this interview!”
A career spanning two decades, with footprints tracked across NYC and other major markets around the globe, the “Marketing Beast” finds himself indispensable to models, fellow DJs, and recording artists looking for honesty as well as advancement. To countless individuals Cool V is likened to a superhero.
SoulTrain.com: Most people know the fictional Gotham City in the Batman stories is closely patterned after New York City. Are you pleased with how it’s been depicted in the movies?
Cool V: NYC is kind of like Gotham when you look at it. It’s huge, and it can be scary at times. It has its dark and mysterious moments because every borough has its own identity, has their own entities; but meanwhile, with so many people it’s easy to get lost in the traffic. There’s so many different people and so many different characters.
SoulTrain.com: V, did you ever watch the Batman television series with Adam West and Burt Ward?
Cool V: Yes! And you’re wrong for asking me that! Got me telling my age! Boom! Zap! Pow! C’mon, I had the Underoos and everything!
SoulTrain.com: Did you enjoy the show more when Batman and Robin fought familiar villains, or when they were challenged by someone new?
Cool V: I would say…I liked the new ones because it was the unexpected. And variety is good. But I loved the Joker! I could relate to him. He’s a character! He’s a clown, but what made him such a scary person was he was always laughing but was so seriously diabolical. He didn’t care about nothing, other than what he wanted to get done! Where I relate to him is that people took him for a joke, and that was their biggest mistake.
SoulTrain.com: Most of those characters have intriguing backstories. To you, are heroes and villains created by circumstance or out of necessity?
Cool V: I’d say a little of both. This is why: With necessity–think yin and yang–with good there has to be evil. Life has to have a balance. If not everything would be the same. That’s why we have colors, and your favorites may differ from mine. Everyone has different tastes, that’s what makes us all unique. Some of our greatest heroes have come out of hard situations.
SoulTrain.com: I’m sure with a lot of notable persons you can justify their existence by using the cause-and-effect argument.
Cool V: Go back in time and look at all the great people who came out of slavery! If not for slavery, there wouldn’t have been a Martin Luther King, a Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, or the Tuskegee Airmen. These were all characters created because of slavery, and none of those would have been as great without that. The same thing goes for people who came out of the holocaust. It took those people to show us how to overcome. If we didn’t go through pain, how would we know joy?
SoulTrain.com: If we don’t know defeat, how can we know triumph?
Cool V: If I was getting the silver spoon my entire life, do you think I would value the dollar? I’m happy I grew up in the neighborhood I did, having it rough, because if I didn’t I don’t think I’d be able to raise my boys, my nephews the way I do. I don’t think my values in life would be the same. I think life’s circumstances can create you or break you.
SoulTrain.com: Batman was created by circumstance; he saw his parents murdered. He could have easily closed himself off, yet from that he became a hero. You said you had it rough, and you’re considered one of the most genuinely supportive people in the industry today. What made you start lending your hand to help others instead of closing it?
Cool V: Well, my father left our house when I was a very young age. When I was in my teens I saw him, and my father told me, “You’ve been dead to me since you were five years old.”
SoulTrain.com: Wow. That’s rough.
Cool V: The relationship between a young man and his father is deep! When I was younger I used to hate myself, thinking, ‘Why did he do this to me? What did I do? Something must be wrong with me.’ I learned there was nothing wrong with me, he had some issues he had to deal with. So, I dealt with certain things and I’d seen things, and you have to look through everybody’s eyes. In my community I’d hear people say, “My father was like that, that’s why I’m like that.” Or, “This guy was abusive to women because his father beat women.” Those are poor excuses! For me as a man, being seen by others as a man, no one was going to use me as that type of example!
SoulTrain.com: Some boys do invest a lot of faith in their fathers. With a father like yours, who do you invest your faith in?
Cool V: Well, I used to always want to grow up around different ethnicities. I’d hang with my white friends and be around other people because I’d seen so much in the ‘hood. I was tired of seeing people get shot or my friends get into trouble, so I put all my effort and energy into music. And I invested a lot into Michael Jackson.
SoulTrain.com: What was it about MJ you connected with?
Cool V: I wanted to heal the world! And it wasn’t hard for me because I’d come from a music background. My mom, she played gospel and was nominated for Dove awards. One of my uncles played for James Cleveland, another one played for The Gap Band. My mom’s best friend was Rick James’ sister, so I’d see Rick and Teena Marie! And then I’d also sneak out to the park to watch all the great DJs! I grew up around all of that! So whenever something happened that was painful, I’d put it to the music.
SoulTrain.com: The saying goes, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”. Do you agree?
Cool V: I’ve learned if you can make it, not just in New York but in those small little cities, you can make it anywhere. The reason I say that is New York may be big, but it has a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot of big places to go to where you have to be at the right place at the right time, if you have a hunger and passion for it. With some of these other places there’s no outlets, so you have to create an outlet. This is the key: If you can make it in your home town, and you stay humble, never lose passion and stay hungry, you can make it anywhere on this planet. And the first thing you have to sell is yourself. I don’t care about your product if I don’t like you!
SoulTrain.com: When you were trying to make it, were you fighting against the same challenges or were you more often facing something new?
Cool V: With me it’s weird. I started off as a DJ then went to producing, but I faced some of the same challenges. Starting off, you have to prove yourself. I would spin at nightclubs for, literally, freaking free soda! There were times I seriously worked back to back to back. I’d DJ a night party until morning, then go do a day brunch, then do an evening joint before going to a night club. I slept maybe an hour per day! I don’t know how God was keeping my body up!
SoulTrain.com: With a schedule like that it sounds like everyone saw you, but no one saw you!
Cool V: Yo, I would DJ this one club where they would have to escort me in through the back then put a sheet up because they didn’t want the people to know they had a Black DJ there spinning. This was an all White club and I’d be there every week! They put my name on flyers, the promoted me, but they didn’t want it known I was black. It was crazy, so was some of the major record label drama I experienced. But I was paying my dues.
SoulTrain.com: How did you go through a situation like that, or any other unfavorable one, and not come out a villain?
Cool V: I always learned to go with my gut. Never sell your integrity, go with your gut, don’t just go with things out of desperation, because in this industry there’s no second signing. I learned my first lesson when I signed to a label and my grandma got sick. When I had to come back to take care of her the label told me I had one week to mourn, that was it. If I didn’t hop back on tour I could either send them back the $45,000 they’d given me or they’d see me in court! I learned from that the show must go on, but I also gave back every cent. I could get more money and make more records; I wasn’t going to get another grandma.
SoulTrain.com: V, it often seems once people–artists or otherwise–reach a certain career status, they put on a mask to hide who they were or really are. Does this happen out of circumstance or necessity?
Cool V: If you get paid and you start treating people foul…With success, all it does is enhance a person’s real quality. You see a person’s real character when they’re successful. If they’re successful, and they’re real, it’s going to bring out the best in them.
SoulTrain.com: Put yourself in Batman’s boots, only you’re not perched on a building looking down at Gotham; you’re perched above America looking down on society and how it functions. Tell us what you see.
Cool V: I see the clutter. We’ve made this mess with violence, hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, and all types of stereotypes. I see millions who don’t realize we need to come together for one goal: to share love and peace.
To connect with “Mr. Official Whistle” Cool V, follow him on Instagram @MrOfficalWhistle and Twitter @coolvratednext.
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and feature writer for City Locs, is an award-winning entertainment and news journalist and columnist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Former Editor In Chief of XPOZ Magazine, his work has graced the pages and covers of Notion Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper, Real Detroit Weekly, and MLive.com. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com and Facebook.com/ByMrJoeWalker.