Very few rap artists possess the chameleon-like ability to adapt to any genre, any production type, any cadence or any flow. That uncanny skill to modify their music to perfectly fit into any space like pieces of a puzzle is one that cannot be learned or taught. Instead, it is an instinctive attribute that constantly pushes the boundaries of creativity.
Of these rare, talented rappers is Miami musician Kool Rula. As one of the most rapidly rising rappers out of South Florida, he has continually displayed his multi-faceted pool of talent over the past few years.
Just last year alone, for example, he shined brilliantly on DJ Chipman’s runaway single “Get Out the Way” and further proved his staying power with pop-inspired single “Want Me.” He kept the momentum moving forward with follow-up single “Relentless” featuring Lexx Lunar. And when his solo debut EP Chill Boy drops later this year, Kool Rula will firmly stake his claim for a long future in the music industry.
“I got multiple styles, so I always switch it up,” Kool Rula explains. “I can be lyrical. I can make ABC raps. I can make melodies. You’ll never know what you’ll get out of me until I put it out.”
Born Sonel Francois in the war-torn republic of Haiti, he was brought to the States with his father when he was only a year old. Raised between the Overtown and Little Haiti sections of Miami, his father had worked as a part of the island’s infamous secret police and migrated to America for more opportunities.
“They made him do a lot of bad things over there,” Rula reveals, “and he wanted a better life.”
In contrast, however, Rula’s dad brought with him some of the same destructive activities as back home. As a part of a notorious Haitian street gang, his father was just as ruthless in this new environment.
“It wasn’t a happy household because he was doing his thing in the streets;,” Kool admits. “My household wasn’t good. I lived in a trap house, but I wasn’t raised like that. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather because my father didn’t want me a part of that.”
To take his mind off the inescapable realities within his home, young Sonel submerged himself in sports and music. He sang in chorus during his elementary school and performed in several talent shows through the years. But because he got picked on by other kids for having such a high voice, he dropped out of chorus altogether.
“I was a really good singer,” he points out. “My music teacher was like ‘the whole world is going to see you one day.’ But when you are a kid, you’re like ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
A major transition in his life came at age 15 when Kool’s father died from liver disease, so he went to live with his grandfather. “It was a normal life,” he recalls. “It was way better because I wasn’t around that street stuff anymore.”
Around the same time, he began secretly writing songs. Heavily influenced by local DJ Chipman (“Peanut Butter Jelly Time,” “Ice Cream and Cake”), Kool was introduced to the local music scene helping the widely popular DJ/producer carry speakers and equipment at parties.
“I learned a lot watching Chipman,” says Kool.
Although he was surrounded by music, Kool did not revisit a career in the music industry until after graduating from Miami Edison Senior High School. Instead of being an artist, he chose to manage aspiring artist and close friend Lexx Lunar. Rula accompanied Lunar to the studio to record a song with rapper Ali Coyote. But after Kool wrote a few lyrics for Lex to recite, both Lunar and Ali suggested that he rap his own lyrics.
“I told them I was not trying to rap, and they told me that I should try it,” Kool recalls. “I did, and it was fire. It sounded good.”
Together, the trio recorded breakthrough single “Smooth Sailing,” which caught the attention of a well-known local record label. The label CEO offered to obtain the song from them, and they agreed. But to their surprise, they were taken off the song with Ali remaining.
When it was all said and done, the song gained popularity among fans, but Rula, Ali coyote and 3 other Campshed members got no credit for their input. “I wish I would have told them to keep our credits on the song,” Rula admits. “That was the first song I cowrote that made it to the radio, but it wasn’t documented.”
Knowing that they were on to something big, they formed 12-member supergroup Camp Shed. Their 2017 mixtape Open House was widely popular, but as they gained recognition, the group was slowly falling apart.
“We could have gone a long way, but you know how the story goes. Once everything starts to look good, people start to feel themselves, and egos come,” Kool warns. “When that happens, that’s when the whole ship crashes.”
Luckily, Kool Rula began building his solo career as the group was coming to an end. He started dropping singles “Smacking,” “Want Me” and his latest release “Relentless” featuring Lexx Lunar. And he is currently awaiting the release of his solo debut EP Chill Boy, set to drop later this year.
“What you get from me will always be a mystery,” Kool Rula explains. “It’s never going to be the same flow. It’s never the same melody. It can be wild. It can be loud. It can be screaming. It could be calm. It can be melodic. It can pe pop. I got something for everybody.”