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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Everything and everywhere with Cooley The Curator

Mike Cooley, aka Cooley The Curator
Mike Cooley, aka Cooley The Curator wears many hats in the Dayton music community.

If you follow or are a part of Dayton’s Hip-Hop scene, you know or know of Mike Cooley, aka Cooley The Curator. He DJ’s at numerous venues. He produces for a number of local and statewide recording artists. He sells music in town, and then he makes it for himself. Cooley is everywhere and everything.

I had the opportunity to rap (sue me) with Cooley about his endeavors with music. Even I didn’t fully know all of the hats he wore in the music game.

Cooley explained, “I'm a DJ, producer, emcee, music collector, and all-around sound junkie from the Dayton area. Through a lot of hard work, I've managed to surround myself with music 24/7 while earning a living with my participation in it.”

The multipotentialite also revealed his ‘day’ gig, which deals with...music, “My day job is Merchandise Manager for Omega Music, Dayton's #1 record store. On nights and weekends, I DJ and make music. Some of that time I spend creating for myself and some of that time I help other artists record and shape their creations."

Cooley has been involved with music for a while now, “I began writing rhymes around 14 (1997) and at 16 I got my first DJ setup. Around a year later I got a drum machine and since then I've been creating music.”

It isn’t hard to see that Cooley is heavily interested in Rap music. When I asked him about his love of hip-hop music and culture, and how it started, he explained, “I've been into music for as long as I can remember. My mother has a big record collection, so growing up we always had music on at home. I liked the music she played, but once I heard Hip Hop at around 5 years old, everything changed.

I began wanting to hear more and more of it. I spent many nights after school with a blank tape in my stereo waiting for something new on the radio to record. Any money I got went to buying tapes and later on CDs. Music was integral to every single day. It wasn't until I heard groups like Bone Thugs N Harmony & Toomb on the radio that I realized I didn't have to just be a fan, I could be a participant! It took hearing guys from Ohio excel at the craft for me to take my love for Hip Hop to the next level. “

Cooley’s has a busy schedule these days. He’s got a number of projects he’s currently working on.

He itemized them all for me:

“I'm mainly known these days for DJing and you can catch me at a few spots every month. First Fridays we call Funky Friday at The Barrel House and I spin classic & modern funk from 7-11pm. Every few Wednesdays I do an event at Toxic Brew called HopFunk where I play a mix of hip hop and funk from 8pm-1am. I've also got one Saturday a month at Capri Lanes where I play mostly hip hop from all eras. In between those residencies I play everything from bars to charity events to house parties. Wherever the groove is needed, I show up.”

Cooley wasn’t done, “On the creative side, I've got a new single out with DJ Prime & Picket Fence called Talk About It that we are currently working on a video for. The latest album from K-Cap Dear World 2 (Present) was just released to streaming platforms on the 13th of this month. I recorded and mixed most of the album and did beats on about half of it. K-Cap and I really had a great time in the studio and we are both very proud of the outcome! I'm currently in the studio recording and mixing a new album from Picket Fence & Cudda Mack, which is a follow up to an EP they released earlier this year that I also helped with. I've also got a funk album I'm working on with my brother under the moniker 'The Funkgi's.' We're exploring the space where groove becomes mind-altering.”


After revealing his lengthy plans, I wanted Cooley to give me some idea of an endgame for his goals. What he hoped to ultimately accomplish with his work.

He confessed, “Really, I just want to connect people with music they might love but haven't heard yet. Whether that means I'm introducing you to your new favorite record at Omega, blending together some jams you haven't had a chance to love yet at a DJ gig, or giving you a new project from myself or my camp. The world moves fast and the algorithms can get you stuck in one place, musically. I'm just trying to do the homework you don't have time to do and help you diversify your experience. “

As you can see, Cooley has some lofty goals. I’m guessing he’ll have no problem reaching them. Because he can do anything with music, and he's good anywhere in Ohio.

In Cooley’s own words, “Peace, love, & greasy stuff!”

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com