The path to creating an album is rarely a straight line. There are moving parts affected by other moving parts and tectonic shifts that change the landscape of an album. That goes for not only the music on the album, but the pieces surrounding it as well.
Take the artwork for example.
You might think the album art comes last, the finishing touch, but the reality is, it’s a flowing process. For the cover of Ces Cru’s Catastrophic Event Specialists album, it was a process taken on by Lucid Flows. In order to get an idea of what that process was like, we talked to Lucid and learned about what went into the album art, but we also got a Ces Cru history lesson.
I had an overwhelming amount of people ask me ONE question about #CatastrophicEventSpecialists … “who did the album cover??” My long time collaborative partner and childhood friend @lucidflows is who! He did the Playground cover art and many other works for us over the years. Cheers Lucid!! PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE NOW. 2•10•17
Though the music changes, the goal for the Kansas City based artist was cemented before getting started.
“My effort with this cover was to put a visual representation of what I understand the album to be about, to establish that so that when people see the cover, they are immediately hit with a mood or feeling that carries them through the project.”
While that is certainly the goal, the actualization can prove much more difficult, because, simply, the music itself wasn’t done. Imagine trying to design the artwork, meant to represent the album as a whole, when the album is in parts. Daunting, yes, but Lucid Flows wasn’t without help; “It was a collaborative effort,” he noted, highlighting the role Godemis and Ubiquitous played in the process.
“I came out to the Strange studios and chilled with Ubi and Godi while they were working on their album, picked their brains, sketched some stuff up and showed it to them. I got to listen to some rough cuts of a few tracks–some didn’t have hooks and were missing parts- and we established some themes early on, established what the feeling of the album was and what issues they were touching on.”
Translating the “feeling” of the album became easier when Ubi gave Lucid Flows something to build off of. Like all great art, the Catastrophic Event Specialists cover was inspired by something that came before it, but was built on, changed, and customized to fit the unique experience of Ces Cru’s most ambitious, impressive project yet.
“Ubi had the vision of going for sort of like the Bobby Digital cover–the blacksploitation, collage style–but using current issues. Touching on the election, drone warfare, protest movements and juxtapose those themes with the cultural distractions like the mumble rappers–money, sex, girls–and bring that together in as cohesive of a way as possible while maintaining the look of Ces Cru.”
While Lucid had an idea of what they were going through–and was able to pick the brains of the Cru–it was still on him to make it a reality. Enough color to capture the eye, but not too much as to take away from the edge, the biting contempt. To hammer home the chaos Godi and Ubi are wrestling with but to also make sure it isn’t too busy. It takes a firm understanding of what Ces is all about to really capture the album in a cover and Lucid Flows did just that because he has that understanding, that connection. In fact, he has a long, long history with Ces Cru.
Fans of Ces Cru may recall Lucid’s work on a few other Ces projects– Capture Enemy Soldiers and The Playground–but, their relationship predates even the first Ces Cru album. Predates it by a mile…or should I say a decade (and then some). Their roots run deeper than a business and creative relationship. So deep that, without Lucid, there would be no Ces artwork (obviously), but there wouldn’t even be a Ces Cru.
“We were in the same clique in high school; we hung out a lot. That was in Colorado. Then I came out to Kansas City for art school. That was in 1998. Ubi was rapping back then and he and I were actually in a rap group together called Collective Consciousness. He would come out to visit a few times and do shows and it clicked. He moved out and moved in with me and met Godi early on. Then Godi moved in. We called it the Ces Nest. Those are the homies.”
As someone who has not only created with, but lived with the Cru, I knew Lucid Flows could provide some really interesting information. So I asked him what we are all thinking:
What kind of milk does Godi drink? What does the new album sound like?
He mentioned something about Godi and Ubi each having solo tracks on the album–What?!?!–but, with the album still in it’s early stages, he couldn’t name specific tracks or if those solos even made the album (I guess we’ll just have to wait to see). While there was nothing specific he could point to, Lucid did give a great look into Catastrophic Event Specialists as a whole.
“The beats. The rhymes. It had that Ces quality, but it sounds really timely. I felt that their content is less about establishing themselves and more about stepping outside of themselves and examining the world as a whole. Both of them have done that before, they are both very perceptive, but this one…they were going a step further from separating themselves and focusing on the environment we are all in.”
If you have eyes, then you probably dig the Catastrophic Event Specialists artwork and if you dig the album art, be sure to keep up to date on Lucid Flows’ stellar work by following him on Instagram, and bookmarking his website. There is a lot of great work there to check out while you wait for his friends, Ces Cru, to drop Catastrophic Event Specialists on February 10th.