Taylor Burgess grew up with NC State in his blood. His sister went to school here, and his father, Peter, played football at State in the late 1960s. So it was natural that Burgess’ childhood consisted of Wolfpack fandom and that NC State was a natural choice when he chose where to attend college.
But when Burgess got to the university, he found something more than sports. He found a burgeoning hip-hop community that would lead Burgess and five of his friends to form the group Kooley High.
The hip-hop group performs tonight at Kings Barcade in Raleigh.
Burgess, who graduated from NC State in 2006 and is known in Kooley High as Tab-One, says he met fellow Kooley High member Charlie Smarts at a party, where the two hit it off freestyling with one another.
They started talking with other acquaintances at NC State and who shared their hunger to promote the positive aspects of hip-hop music. That included Kooley High members Rapsody, Foolery, The Sinopsis and DJ Ill Digitz. In the early days, they would meet through NC State’s hip-hop organization, H2O.
“A lot of us were freshmen and sophomores,” Tab-One says. “It was a way to meet like-minded people. You know those people are out there, but you don’t know how to get in touch with them.”
With the success of some of the tapes they made, the friends realized they had a following in the Triangle. So they officially formed Kooley High in 2007 and worked shows at the Pour House and Kings. Music blogs were kind to them and helped sustain their momentum. And today, the group has released numerous mixed tapes, one EP and two full-length albums, one of which proudly touts their allegiance to the Wolfpack.
Earlier this year, Kooley High released David Thompson, a salute to the man many consider to be NC State’s greatest athlete (check out the video for title track here). Tab-One says using Thompson’s name is an allusion to the band’s progression.
“The whole idea was to use his name as a metaphor to take it to a higher level,” Tab-One says. “He has almost a mythical mystique about his name. It does seem like it’s more than just basketball.”