We talked toUbiquitous and got a glimpse of what to expect from the EP as well as their future album for Strange Music. Ubi told us about the direction of the sound on their upcoming projects (“up”) and shared a little bit of his beef with the rap game as a whole. If the interview is any indication, you can expect big things from CES Cru in 2012 and 2013.
What were your intentions going into the EP. Where did you wanna take your sound, and then from that step how did you go about achieving that?
Well, I think we kind of had a sound that we did on our last album The Playground, produced by Leonard Dstroy, and it was kinda this futuristic sound–maybe a little before its time. That shit came out in ’09. I feel like we were, you know, 2011 when that shit dropped, and so we wanted to – we didn’t get any beats from Lenny D for this one. We got a lot of support from Info Gates, a little but of support from the homie Seven, who makes a lot of beats for everybody on Strange Music. A couple new guys, Smart Alec, Koko. The sound: we took it up. That’s where we were trying to take it. We were trying to take the balloon and put a lot of air in it, a little more air in it and expand it, make it bigger, make it grander, because CES Cru before Strange Music, we were accustomed to rockin’ 200, 300, 400 people. Fuckin’ with Strange, now we’re doing 2000, 3000, 4000 people, so it’s just, you know, we had to – we gotta cater to y’all. Y’all are big, so we’re gonna take it big, and it’s go big or go home every time. And so that’s what you can expect from that.
You guys got to work with Seven. I know you worked with him before technically, with “Unfair”, cause he produced that, but this time it was for your guys’ own shit. How well did you guys mesh?
Very well. Seven’s extremely talented. I’ve been knowing about Seven for a number of years, and he’s close to here. I live in Kansas City, Missouri. He was living in Wichita, he just kinda moved into town recently, and he works with a lot of my partners that I’ve been fucking with beyond, like, Tech and Strange Music artists or whatever. He fucks with my homie Mac Lethal, he fucks with my homie Stik Figa, and so we kinda been in similar circles, but not really the same circle, you know, not overlapping for some time. So, I was so excited to work with guy. He kicked us some bangers, and it’s really just a prelude to what is to come for our LP. We started to find a comfort zone, I think. Had the benefit of sitting down with Seven in person for a couple hours in the studio and working over one of his tracks and shit; this track called “It’s Over” with Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko on it. And, yeah man, he’s got a vision. He’s super easy to work with, and his beats are complex on levels that I hadn’t really even been familiar with up to this point. Layers and layers, and just ambient sounds and big, bass-busting fucking kicks, and smack-you-in-the-face snares and fucking–yeah man, Seven’s killin’ em. So, it’s kind of a dream come true to work with a producer that’s professional on his level, that’s produced for gigantic acts, for T-Pain, for Big Sean, you know what I mean, beyond all of the superstars on our own label, you know, he’s a ill-ass dude. Real talk.
Now, speaking of bangers man, “Colosseum”. This is gonna be the debut music video for the album. What can you tell us about that song, though?
Uh, “Colosseum”. “Trapped in a colosseum, a sea of em. All I see is prey for the predator, dying for what they call Ideas,”. You know, there’s a little undertone of political ideology, there, but really we just bustin’ ill styles on this one. I kinda – ah I don’t wanna summarize my own rhyme before ya’ll even hear it, it won’t make no sense to you, but this is a big song that we designed for the gigantic arena, and when this shit comes on, I mean, I wanna see motherfuckers moving. I want hands up. I want y’all jumping around and shakin’. Fucking, you could mosh to this song, you know what I’m saying? You could wile the fuck out to this song and that’s where we wanted to take it, man. It’s the type of song where the energy goes low, and then it comes high and it climaxes and the shit just “BOOM” and it explodes, you know? So, I’m excited to see how fans react to that. The video is crazy, had the benefit of Tech N9ne and the homie Makzilla makin’ an appearance. My guy JL of B.Hood from “Worldwide Choppers” poppin’ up in that motherfucker. Info Gates, you know, my dude Scenario, which Strange fans know who he is. There’s little cameos here and there, man. It’s a pretty serious video, dude. It’s a big production. Might be the greatest CES Cru video ever created. We’ll see.. I don’t wanna jinx it, you know what I mean? I just seen a rough cut about half hour ago, and I’m pretty stoked to see how it all turns out.
Yeah. Fans already got a sneak peak from all the pictures that surfaced from the shoot. Last weekend at the Nelson you guys had like 100 extras or something as, it seemed to be, your political supporters, or whatever. I don’t know. I saw you on a podium and I saw people out in the crowd. Can you tell us anything about the premise behind this video?
Uh, there is a little bit – there’s somewhat of a deeper premise. I don’t wanna reveal too much, but I do play a politician in this video. My partner plays a guerilla revolutionary, and we’re kind of exacting our ideologies, and hopefully that comes across clearly, we illustrate the points there. For those who pay attention to the world and politics, hopefully it’ll be a little somethin’, a little intellectual food for thought while you’re taking in us just bustin’ these hot bars.
Do you guys plan on making any more videos for the EP?
Yes. You could expect maybe – there might be videos for like half of the songs on this joint. There’s eight joints on our EP, and we’re lookin’ at three, possibly four videos. I don’t wanna promise anything that I can’t deliver, but yeah, you gonna see some visual media to go with the songs. CES Cru, you know, we’re big on videos, man. We got a lot of videos. If you troll through YouTube you can find a dozen plus videos out right now representing our old material to representing our new material, our collaborations with Strange artists. So, we gonna keep that theme up. I personally, Ubi personally loves to make videos. I like to get behind the camera, I like to co-direct. I love working with my partner Justin Marmorstein, shout out to Marmo who’s out in Orange County California. I was on the phone with him last night, we’re plottin’ and schemin’ already about the next shit that we’re about to do. Yeah, man. We’re big on visual media. It’s my second passion. I went to film school, so you’re gonna see videos from us for a long time coming, and we like to raise the bar on that shit.
I think this is gonna mark the arrival of Info Gates as a serious producer to pay attention to.
I would absolutely agree. My dude Info is super-talented. For those of us out there who are familiar with the CES catalogue, Matter Don’t Money, my mixtape, The Deevil, my partner Godemis’ mixtape, Info Gates weighed in pretty heavy on both of these. I’d say he had the majority of the beats he produced on my record – on my mixtape maybe five/six of them, more so than anybody else. I think he produced eleven or so, eleven or twelve of them on The Deevil. Nearly the whole thing, and so he’s very much part of our camp. He’s an inside man, we work hand in hand. He was in the studio with us while we were crafting 13, tossing ideas. He’s taking his sound up. He’s stepped up to the plate. He cut the samples out of his life, re-taught himself how to make beats in a very short period of time. His beats are big. When I was playing his shit for Tech that was one of the first things he said. He’s like, “Yo, who the fuck made this beat? Yo, who is this? Who is this guy?” and I’m like, “Oh, that’s Info,” and he’s like, “Who the fuck is Info?” I’m like, “Oh, you know, that’s my guy. You gotta meet him.” He’s like, “No, you gotta introduce me to him,”. So, I had the pleasure of doing that this last Sunday, introducin’ Info to Tech, and I think that could be the beginning of something beautiful, you know? We’re just tryin’ to add more people into the camp here at Strange, and to diversify the sounds that we can produce. So, you might see some Info Gates beats with some other Strange artists rapping over them, hopefully in the next year. Of course, he’s gonna be fucking with us, you know? Info plus CES Cru equals Brainlocker, which is a whole other thing. There will be a Brainlocker track on the 13 EP called “One Bomb State” that’s pretty bananas. Yeah man, Info gets it in. I’d definitely check for that guy. You can look for his – he does his own music, as well, you know, he’s a rapper/producer and super-talented. So yeah, had the pleasure of working with him very close during the creation of 13.
What do you like about his production?
I like Info’s drums, man. He is a talented musician. Sure, he’s a producer, but this man can play the guitar a little bit, he could play the piano a little bit, he could play the drums, and that translates into his music – he’s a true producer. That’s what, you know, “real producers” do. They are able to hop on all the instruments and communicate their ideas super-effectively. So yeah, man, Info hits the pocket with his drums. Man, he’s got these, you know, instead of (percussively bangs a simple beat on the table), you know what I’m sayin’, Info’s (percussively bangs a complex beat on the table), you know what I’m sayin’? He’s hittin’ these off-beats. Yeah, he’s got some irregular drums that really create a new pocket, you know, and really cater to lyrics very well. Because he’s a rapper, he’s familiar with what a rapper would be interested in a beat, and I think that gives him an advantage over certain other producers that are not, maybe, thinking like a rapper when they make a beat, you know what I mean? And, I think that that comes across well when you hear a completed track with this guy.
What are you planning for the next album? What’s the direction you want to take the album? Is it just a continuation on this upward path?
I mean, it goes up, you know? It definitely stays goin’ up. The LP, which I guess we have a small amount of work done on already, even though the EP’s not even out, it should be even bigger and better than the EP. And that’s not to take anything away from 13, but yeah, we have a lot of people to please, and I aim to please. We like our music to be meaty, you know what I mean? If you look at your plate when you’re having your meal, like, CES Cru music is steak and potatoes. We’re not talkin’ about parsly and chopped carrots. We’re givin’ you something meaty. You’re gonna have to listen to our tracks three times, four times, five times, and now you’re gonna catch somethin’ else in the lyrics you didn’t even notice before. That’s what we tryin’ to do for ya’ll. We don’t wanna give you no simple bullshit to where you’re like, “Eh, this is, you know, I get it and there’s nothing else to get.” Yeah, our music has layers to it, so hopefully that gives you an extended listen to where, you know, this shit’s gonna hold you down for a period of time.
From your transition from pre-Strange Music to being on the label, what considerations do you take in when you from this new sound and go in this new direction?
I’ve got a grudge with the rap game. There’s some ideas that I need to communicate in my personal opinion, and you can’t necessarily change the game overnight, but you can change it over a period of time, over a course of months, over a course of years, and so I got some ideas I’m tryin’ to communicate out there. The best thing you can do is lead by example. You can’t just bitch and expect the game to listen to you and change up on account of some shit that you were bitchin’ about, so all I can do is just go super-hard and hopefully motherfuckers appreciate that. I ain’t trying’ to lose nobody, but I am trying to elevate what the standard of lyricism in the game is. I ain’t gonna say no names or take no shots at no other rappers, but I just do it my way, and if that’s more attractive to some other shit then mission accomplished. That’s all I’m tryin’ to do.
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