CES Fest 2012: What started as an open slot on MLB All-Star Weekend at the Riot Room turned has turned into an all-out hip hop extravaganza with Strange Music’s CES Cru leading the way.
We talked to Ubiquitous to get the details on what should be one of the biggest events in Kansas City this year.
How did CES Fest come about?
Basically we were looking at doing something big for the city. Most of the shows that we’ve been doing in the city have been with Tech lately so it’s a different capacity than we’re accustomed to and we’re openers as opposed to closers and so on and so forth. We did a show earlier this year but it was a signing party. It was very impromptu and it wasn’t like a (explosion sound) it was kind of just like “Let’s kick it.”
So this is the one man! We want to do something big. My homeboy Info Gates came to me with the slot on All-Star Weekend and kind of had a rough idea on what he wanted to do or whatever and I kind of just stepped in. I didn’t exactly snatch it from him or whatever, he’s still going to be completely involved but I just blew it up to something greater than he had in mind in the first place. And now it’s two stages, four elements: MCs, B-Boys, DJs and graf-writing. It just got crazy. The live bands. It’s going to be big.
So it is going to be like an all-out extravaganza. Being All-Star Weekend, it is likely that this thing will be well-populated even if you didn’t do any promo because the city is going to be flooded with people.
Yeah, the city will be flooded. We figure that there’s going to be a fair amount of walk-in traffic just because Westport should be popping but on top of that I know, while we don’t have the stranglehold on the city yet, I’m squeezing the city’s wrists very firmly right now to get its attention and then we will move that into a chokehold. That should be enough to get some folks out and I think that no one’s really seen Matter Don’t Money or The Deevil and there’s a little bit of buzz surrounding that and I think it’s going to be something exciting. It’s going to be pretty good.
Without revealing too much, what can we expect from the set? What are some of the songs you’d like to see from The Deevil and what are some songs from your mixtape that you’d like to perform but haven’t been able to yet?
As far as The Deevil goes, with Info being in the house I feel like “Digits” is going to come off real dope. I don’t know why I went to “Digits” first. I think that we’ll definitely see some things that the fans are going to want to be expecting like “Sixx Minutes”, “Ol’ Gregg” and “WTF Ever” – I guess that’s a big one (laughs). I’ve just been reading the fans and asking them so we want to give them what they want and nothing is too far out of bounds with maybe the exception of “Deevil Kneevil”. People have been screaming for Deevil Kneevil. They want it! But it’s quite an endeavor so we’ll see if that happens or not. That’s his.
As far as mine goes? You might see the expected push. If there’s a visual out there for it, you’re probably going to see it at the show if time allots. We’re going to be doing a little “Property” for sure since the homie Info’s there. I dunno! I don’t want to reveal everything but we’ll definitely be banging it out. You’re going to see ten to a dozen songs live that you’ve never seen CES Cru ever do.
So how long is your show going to be then?
It’s going to be a full set. We’re going to top an hour for sure. We’re going to go over an hour. I’m not really sure how far over. We’re going to come with lots of ammo in the clip. We could probably do two hours if stamina allots, but I dunno if the time slot allots. But I’m just going to read the crowd and we’re going to see where we’re at.
So from doing all these shows, do you have an impromptu energy where you can call shots on the fly like that?
Well we’ve done it every way it can be done. We’ve done it like Tech to where it’s all lined up and there are no surprises, I mean as far as the artists. The audience could be surprised but I know exactly what’s about to happen. So I’ve definitely done it that way a whole bunch of times but lately I’ve been running it kind of like football, you know? We come out and we’ve got the play. We definitely got a main play, there’s a couple sub-plays and then a couple of audibles tucked in the pocket so I can just turn around to Lenny D and kind of tell him and QB that thing and call the play to him and he’s just like “boom” and now we’re doing this.
And that’s from reading the “defense”, which I guess is the audience in this case.
Absolutely. We just want to cater to the energy that’s already there. If we feel like it’s right, we might be able to take it down a notch and kind of do a more introspective joint if the audience is with us. But we don’t want to do that too much to kill the show. You just kind of gotta read them. If everyone just wants to get rowdy then we’ll get rowdy though and that’s cool too.
Tell me about some of the other acts that you’re bringing along. Who are these people and what will they be doing?
The outside will be all DJs. DJ Kittie is going to open it up. She’s doing hip hop, rap, industry-type shit. Beautiful girl, rolls with JL from BHood. They’re like a little squad. It’s pretty sick. So she’s going to be working outside, he’s going to be working inside. She’s going to open it up on the outside and then Leonightus is going to follow her and he’s going to do more breakbeats and more old-school hip hop and he’s bringing his squad with him because he’s a b-boy as well as a DJ, so he’s not going to be able to dance but he’s bringing his whole crew. We’re just going to break it down out there man. My home Brent Tactic who’s been DJing in the city for ten years or something, he’s going to close it down and do a big set. Maybe two and a half hours to keep it moving all the way until the lights come up.
The artists will be outside on the outside stage as well. They’ll all three be doing live pieces throughout the night, just kind of nonchalantly under that little covered area. I’m super excited about that. I got my old-school homie Aaron Sutton, he goes by Brother of Moses, he’s from Deep Thinkers so he’s got a mouthpiece too but I got him painting that night. He’s real sick with his but I don’t know you might see him on the mic too, we’ll see. He’s going to be there. My homie Magic, who does a lot for me, you know who he is. He’s in the place too doing live art and then I was gracious enough that Gear is coming through and gracing us with his presence which is just amazing. He’s a local graf legend – international graf legend actually. He put me up on ATT’s graf crew recently and they’re like 30 deep and in like four countries or something. It’s stupid. We’re really really lucky to have Gear for real. I expect to see a lot from him on the art tip.
On the inside it’s going to be all the rap shit man. My dude Vertigone is going to host it. He’ll be the MC. He’ll be doing a little performing and kind of doing the in-betweens for the sets and keep things moving. My homie Louiz Rip from Soul Servers is going to open it up. He just dropped a record. His shit is pretty hot. His record came out real recently. It’s dope. He’s kind of in a league with Talib Kweli and them so he’s got his own little pocket. JL’s going to be there and he’s real tight with our camp, doing his thing. Info’s going to be there with Ben, Reggie B and the Problem, so we’re going to see a little explosion when they hit the stage.
You said Brother Moses before. Could there be a Deep Thinkers reunion song or two with him and Leonard Dstroy?
I mean possibly. We have Dstroy in back of us and Romo will be out there painting. There’s a little bit of work that we’ve all done together so that could possibly end up happening. I don’t know. A lot of things could happen man. A lot of things could happen.
That’s cool, feels like you guys have this huge collective going on. Everyone has shaken hands with each other in one shape or form and anything could pop off.
And that’s kind of the idea. There’s so many combinations of how CES Cru interlocks with these people on the bill that there’s going to be surprises no matter what you do. It’s just really good in that way. And these are all my people. Strange Music fans may not realize that I’ve got a whole little army in Kansas City of MCs, and other artists that I’ve been affiliated with for the past 10 years. [Strange Music fans] only know me in the context of Strange but there’s a whole lot of guys that I fuck with. I’m happy to let a little bit of their shit come through.
Are you seeing any attention from people that came in because you signed with Strange about this event?
Not so specifically. I think that it’s out there a little bit. I know that there’s some Strange fans that have only picked up on us since 2012 that are probably going to be there just to see a CES Cru show and I’m super excited for that but I don’t know how much we’ve tapped into that just yet, but we’ve got some time to get the word out and connect with everybody.
I wanna see some Strangers there for sure you know?
– Interview conducted by Jeff Nelson, Strange Music Blog Editor
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