Fans who are looking for CES Cru to deliver Constant Energy Struggles Pt. 2 be ready to be disappointed. Fans who are looking for CES Cru to evolve and come with that new new be prepared to love Codename: Ego Stripper when it drops on August 5, 2014.
We talked to Godemis, one half of the rhyme-slinging duo, to get his perspective on what the new CES Cru album has in store. While most successful acts immediately adopt the safe “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude towards making music, as Godemis tells it, CES Cru is looking to explore new territories with each new project. What else would you expect? This is Strange Music. This is CES Cru.
We talked to Godemis to get his take on the album: the meaning of the title, his favorite songs/verses and why you can compare this to Outkast’s ATLiens.
Listen to The Deevil tell it in our exclusive interview below…
Codename: Ego Stripper? What does it mean?
Well not without the music. It’s all there in the music. The shit is self-explanatory if motherfuckers listened to the music. It’s all in there. It’s all in the album.
You’re stripping egos?
That’s a way of looking at it. Definitely your own. You gotta start with your own I imagine. The answer’s in the album though so motherfuckers should buy it if they really want to know.
When you guys went into the album, did y’all have any preconceived ideas of how you wanted it to sound and what kind of content you wanted on it?
The one thing I do remember us agreeing on, us being myself, Seven and Ubi, was that we were trying to develop our own sort of sound if you will. The same way Tech does or if you look back on the Clipse era when they were fucking with Star Trak and Pharrell and shit. They had a sound kind of to where when that sound started popping and people started biting it I can remember saying “That sound like some Clipse shit.” We were trying to coin a sound if you will and I think we did that on the album. I think overall it has a unique sound. Definitely from Strange as well.
Did you have an conscious idea of how you wanted it to be different than Constant Energy Struggles?
We all wanted it to be different and I think the way we were successful in that is that we didn’t use the last album as a template or as a stencil at all. We didn’t go back to the last album and go “Oh yeah, that was really successful. Let’s do another ‘When Worlds Collide’. Oh ‘Seven Chakras’, people love that song. Let’s try to do another something like that.” That was never the discussion. We pretty much left that album behind and started over again with new concepts and everybody being open to new shit, sounds and new techniques of rhyming. That was the approach on making sure that it was different, just not referencing your body of work prior to it to just try and make something that was successful.
It seems like you guys are more comfortable to explore different techniques and flow patterns on this album.
Absolutely. For myself I can definitely say that there’s a couple of songs on the album that where I take on a different persona, if you will, that’s just so aggressive. I don’t know how often I allow myself to do that. I definitely was in a better place writing and a more confident place which is cool. Just more confident to do whatever and really challenging the listeners and the fans to fuck with a different approach as opposed to “Oh, this ain’t how CES Cru do it!” The aim is for the response to be like “Damn, they did some totally different shit and it’s tight!” So there it is.
I think I’d rather have a song that isn’t received so well but at least I know I was challenging myself as opposed to making another “Juice” because “That one sold well, so let’s take another bass line and reference another old hip hop song and make a beat because people really like that.” That’s not the aim. That’s not challenging enough for me or the listener.
Seven did a bulk of the production for this record. What was it like working with him?
For those who aren’t familiar, Seven is a Jedi at what he does. You can’t stump him with an idea. You can’t come at Seven with an idea and express it and very rarely is he not going to be able to translate your idea, whether you brought a skeleton of a beat or maybe you reference an old song and let Seven know “That’s how I’m feeling.” Nine times out of ten what he comes back with is spot on and maybe even better than what the fuck you imagined what you’re asking for. That’s real cool.
This time around he had just got done with a couple projects but we really had his undivided attention which I think really has a lot to do with the success of the sound of the album. Seven was super-excited about getting out of his box too. The whole thing about making a new sound too, he was totally all about that and ready to make something special for CES Cru. Seven’s awesome dude. I’m glad he’s on our team, I’ll put it like that.
One of the stand out tracks on this record is also your solo record “Every Weapon” with Info Gates on the boards. I know you guys work a lot together. Why do you mesh well with him?
I think he’s just cut from the same cloth man. We both came up in the Kansas City hip hop scene around the same time. We’re making the same moves around the same time and have worked with the same people. We’ve honed our skills in a lot of the same spots, clubs that have come and gone in Kansas City. We tore down a lot of those same stages.
I think more than anything we’re just like-minded. We like the same kind of music and shit like that. We’re fans of each others music as well. Me and Info’s shit is effortless man. We’re just hanging out and he’ll play me a beat and it’ll catch my ear or he’ll play a beat and go “Man, I can hear you on this one.” A lot of times he’ll play some shit and I’ll go “Man, I love that track!” And he’ll be like “Really? I didn’t think you would dig this one,” and I’m like “Naw that one. I want that one.” I make sure to keep him in the fold. I believe in his talent and I think he fits well into the fold. We’re honored to have one of his tracks be my solo on the album.
On few of these songs it seems like you guys are addressing critics and groups of people, specifically on songs like “Give It To Me”. Did you feel like you were addressing anyone when you made this album?
There’s definitely groups of people. I can’t say names because I don’t know names but I know they exist. It’s funny because I hear a lot of shit but I ain’t never hear it right to my face. No one has made a fucking song and if they do I’ll never fucking hear it. So, yeah definitely.
For me myself, the technique is that I don’t even have an acquired target or anything, I just have an infinite amount of ammunition so I’m going to just keep shooting at every fucking thing. I don’t give a fuck, I’m shooting at everybody. It’s one of those things like if the shoe fits. If a motherfucker hear my verse and think “He’s talking about me” then I guess I am (laughs). If he don’t then I guess I’m not really, but these motherfuckers know who they are and I don’t know who they are, but they know who they are. I’m getting at whoever the fuck.
Do you guys ever catch any bullshit from former peers in KC due to the success of the group?
No man it’s all love. I actually, out of the blue, got a Happy Birthday from the homies and shit when I was out on the road. That was really cool. I thought it was ill that they remembered. It’s all love man. I think if anything I’d be lying if I said there hasn’t been some sort of “Wish I was still there” sort of mindset. It’s gotta be real ill to watch something you used to be a part of slowly flourish that now you’re not a part of for whatever reason. I imagine people can feel sorts of ways about that. It’s a real intimate thing to be a part of a music group and a collective. Fast forward to present day – it’s all love man. I didn’t make it to the Swillioniaire’s Ball but I heard cats were there and I heard cats were asking for me and wanted to know where I was at. I talked to Kutt Slitz, it’s all love and he’s excited about what’s going on. It’s all good. It’s all love.
This album has some of your guys’s best writing to date. What are your favorite verses from yourself on this record?
I really like my bars on “Double OT”. I really love that song. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album. I feel like it’s a “Passing Me By” or “Bonita Applebum” status, maybe even “I Used To Love H.E.R.” status. Maybe not so much conceptually with those songs I just named but it’s got that sort of feel to it. It’s like a tasteful love ballad. You gotta check it out. And “Strange Creature” which has me, Ubi and MURS on it. Ubi’s second verse on there bodies me and MURS put together, MURS did his fucking thing, I really like MURS’s verse but my verse on there? It’s pretty fucked up. It sounds like something that would’ve came off The Deevil or something. It’s a pretty fucked up verse and I’m really in love with it.
How about your favorite verses from Ubi on this record?
His second verse on “Strange Creature” is fucking retarded and his solo on the album “Phineas Gage” has just really arrogant bars. Just when I think I know all his tricks he pulled out some more fucking tricks on his solo “Phineas Gage” and that shit’s really, really, really tight to me. I think he bodied motherfuckers on that shit.
Overall do you have any favorite songs on the record?
“Double OT” is going to be one of my favorites and then “Fate”. The first shit. The way the album opens. In that way it feels “Lotus”-ey because I know it sounds so much like the beginning and in that way we opened up in pieces again too. It’s not a song. It’s like two pieces from both of us with Seven on the beat again who fucking murdered. “Fate” is super dope. I think it’s a dope way to set the pace of the album. It sounds like how the cover looks to me. Super dope to me.
How do you think the fans will respond to the record when they hear it?
There’s some fans who are going to show love and support and it may not be the favorite album or they might not like it better than fucking Constant Energy Struggles or any of our previous works for that matter, but I think the fans are going to respond well to it. I imagine the sort of crossover feeling I had after Outkast dropped Southernplayalistic but then dropped ATLiens. It’s still Outkast but they put on this new skin all of the sudden. They went weirder and it wasn’t just being weird for weird’s sake. You could tell that they’ve gone through some shit and I feel like there’s a similar parallel there between Constant Energy Struggles and Ego Stripper.
It’s different and I hope the fans remain open-minded. I know everybody’s not a super hyper listener like some of us. I know some just love it because it’s us and that’s cool too but I would invite the friends to break it down and dig through it because there’s definitely messages in there and definitely shit in the album that links all of our work together if, one is so inclined to break the bars down. You’re definitely going to enjoy it more if you’re super CES Cru fan. If you’re familiar with all the music and all the songs then in that way you’re really going to love Ego Stripper. We took it somewhere else man.
You were talking about in ATLiens how you could tell Outkast went through some shit to get to that place to make that album. What are some experiences that you drew from since Constant Energy Struggles that fueled the writing of this record?
Aw man, shit man. They’re really super duper highs and lows. Some I can’t even disclose in a format like this. Motherfuckers who know me know what time it is man. But for all the lows, on the opposite side of the spectrum there’s having a video on BET, touring with Brotha Lynch Hung, Trizz and Kutt. All the experience since I got signed has really been all the fuel for this.
I don’t know what motherfuckers think, but life don’t quit so depending on how you measure your success it’ll turn your life upside down either for better or for worse. The shit changes up and I think that’s the only real inspiration for anything is actual experiences and what you’re going through. Again, if someone is so inclined to listen and break down the lyrics and shit, it’s all in there. All the good and bad shit has definitely been the fuel.
How does it feel to grow into this role as opposed to about three years ago when you guys were “local”? Now you guys have done quite a bit, even selling out on the solo tour. How has this experience been for you?
It’s funny that I bring up Outkast and we had that conversation. My man 3000 said “True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check. If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat so we both like neck-to-neck.” That pretty much says it. Those bars right there. “I stopped at the mall the other day, heard a call from the other way that I just came from. Some nigga was saying something, talking about ‘Hey man, you remember me from school?’ No, not really.” (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? Real shit dude! It’s really like that. Shout out to Andre fucking 3000. Real shit. That’s what it’s been man.
Real shit, I’m still in Kansas City. I’m still in the armpit of Kansas City. I ain’t bought a fucking car. I ain’t fucking model bitches. I still got to put up with the same piece of shit dickheads talking shit or whatever the fuck it is. So ain’t nothing there. The love switched up. There’s a lot of love and people acknowledge and respect the music and tattoo the crest on their arm and shit. That shit’s super ill to me. If you would’ve asked me three or four years ago “Would this ever be happening?” I might have told you “Fuck no! Maybe…” That’s what it is.
Relating to that, one of the lines that really hits is on “Jimmy Stewart”. The very first line “I make music for a living so everyday is the weekend.”
There’s hundreds upon hundreds of people who think they would do anything to make this their life. Now that it is your living, is it everything you wanted?
Yeah my expectations for what this would be have been everything I’ve wanted and more. I can’t thank Trav and Tech enough for fucking taking a shot on us, taking a gamble on these guys who may or may not be hard to market. Tech heard something and he’s got that same attitude towards it. It is what it is man.
I’d invite people to reevaluate what they really want to do and shit. You can probably think of something better to do than be a rapper. That’s what it is man. But yeah I’m super happy and proud to be able to support myself and my lifestyle with this fucking music and having the opportunities that are put in front of me to stand on that. It’s super dope. I stand back and think about “What’s next? What’s the next move? How do we expand our brand?” The Strange Music brand and the CES Cru brand. And that’s for me.
I’ve been doing it for ten years plus. No one can question my dedication. It’s not in question. It’s not at all. A lot of guys on the roster are like that. I think that’s a bond that we share that mothefuckers know about and we don’t sit back and talk about “Aw man I’ve been doing this for so long!” We already know what time it is. That’s a consistent thing throughout the artists at Strange Music and I think it’s a ripple effect. I think it goes to the video department, to the social media department…motherfuckers are passionate man. That’s a very valuable asset when you’re in the business of entertaining. It’s very important that motherfuckers be passionate and we’ve got that.
True that. Anything you want to say about Codename Ego Stripper in closing as we wrap this up?
I just really, really really want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, One thousand thank yous to all my haters and all the people that would do me harm and want to see me fail. They are who I have in mind when I tear shit down. Just thank them first and foremost. Without them I don’t even know what I would rap, what I would say, I don’t know what I would write on the paper. So thank them first of all. And to the fans and shit….stay tuned.
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