CES Cru’s on a roll, literally and figuratively: with a spot on the unstoppable Independent Powerhouse Tour and their debut Strange Music album hitting the top ten of the Billboard hip hop charts, things are looking up for the Kansas City duo that was known as “local” only a few years ago.
We caught up with the Cru while they did a tour stop in Las Vegas to ask them about Constant Energy Struggles. In this interview they reveal their favorite verses from each other, facts about the making of the album, discuss their favorite song and much more.
How has the response been on your guys’ end?
Ubiquitous: It’s been nothing but positive. The response, is literally I haven’t found a negative comment, but I have been trolling for them. I’ve been busy out here on the Independent Powerhouse Tour just working everyday and stuff, but it’s been a beautiful thing man. At a ground level, talking with fans at shows and literally signing CDs that they just purchased or they have, they tell me that they just got their pre-order in the previous days and come up to me with the exclusive preorder t-shirt on and we chop for a minute. Everybody has good things to say. People tell me that they bought the deluxe version, that they really dig the extra tracks and everything else. So it’s dope. It’s been all good things.
On Twitter we’re reading comments like “So good” “Amazing” “Best Strange Music release ever”. When you hear this kind of enthusiasm for the record, what goes through your mind? Is it overwhelming, a bit expected, a bit of both?
Ubiquitous: I guess I haven’t felt overwhelmed yet. We’re just so busy out here that I’m not in a state of reflection truthfully. I feel like we’re in a boxing match right now, like maybe we just got some really solid punches off in the match, but I’m still in this match so I’m concentrated on whupping y’all ass right now. You know?
After you guys had put the album in order and finally got to listen to it, how did you guys feel about it?
Ubiquitous: It was a dope process man. It was a really quick process too, as far as putting that album together and whatever. By the time it was all said and done, I think we had the album together and we felt good about it you know? It’s a great little piece of work that we’ve done and I definitely stand behind it. Yeah, I really love the album. We made so much good music that we didn’t know what to do with it all and now there’s tons of bonus tracks everywhere. We loved all those tracks too. They’re not the tracks we didn’t love we just couldn’t figure out how to fit them into this painting we made.
Ubiquitous, in an interview with The Source you were talking about the title of this album, and you said “It’s a constant energy struggle, having to establish ourselves and maintain our position and prove that we’re allowed to eat at the table that we’ve been invited to sit at now.” Now that you guys have this album out, I know it hasn’t been that long, but how are you guys feeling right now sitting at this table?
Godemis: I feel like we belong at the table. I think we’ve diversified the label in a good way. Yeah, we’re at the table and we’re definitely eating and I feel like we deserve to be at that table. I feel like we should have seconds as well if we want.
What has the response been like from your peers, especially on the road because you’re surrounded by them right now being on The Independent Powerhouse Tour, I’m sure they’ve heard the record.
Ubiquitous: All good things, you know?
Godemis: Yeah all good things. Even Lynch ran up on me one night and was just giving me hella praise about the album. He himself said “Man, y’all are the future of Strange Music.” Lynch said that to me and that shit fucked my head up, you know what I mean? I hope he’s right!
Godemis, this question is for you, how wavy were you during the making of this album?
Godemis: I was pretty wavy during this album man. I go in the booth on that level. So yeah, and I stay wavy, all the time…all the time.
The term “wavy” is thrown out a lot during the album, for people that don’t know what I’m talking about there’s also a song called “Wavy”. Pure debauchery on this song. Ubi what was your immediate response when you heard Godemis’ solo track for the album, Wavy?
Ubiquitous: Well, actually here’s how that happened. That was going to be a CES Cru song and then Godemis came in and did what he did on that track and was totally wavy as you can see. That shit was so wavy I was like “Bro I can’t even get on your level right now!” I just let him be wavy like that, and as you can see that is debauchery. It’s worse than a bender. Hangover shit times two. That’s what it is though. And we getting wavy out here, in Vegas.
By the way did I tell you that we’re broadcasting from the Excalibur?
Ubiquitous: Oh yeah we out here.
And how’s that?
Ubiquitous: It’s a beautiful thing.
Godemis: Vegas is fucking crazy bro I feel like I’m on a different fucking planet.
JL’s out there are you guys going to link up?
Godemis: Hey JL, what do you want to say to Jeff?
JL: (Laughs) What up Jeff!
What up JL! Thanks for giving us that acapella. What’s the response been like on your verse from “Get That”?
Oh yeah I’ve been getting a lot of love man. Everybody hitting me up like “You killed it!” This this and that. And I love the fucking song, it came out great. I’m hype about it. I hope that shit get keeps getting played.
Pure heatery! Now I got you all here, what are your guys’ favorite verses from the other person on this album?
Godemis: Ubi bodied “Get That” I feel like, real bad. Like that verse right there, it’s fucked up. And then JL got that track, but that’s my favorite Ubi verse and of course JL bodied that shit. I really like Ubi’s verse on “Smoke”. I think that’s another thing to where I definitely felt that I could add something to that song, but Ubi came with that verse and when I heard it I was like “Man I’m not really trying to harmonize the melody my shit out like that.” Then of course I just went back and put a verse on there that’s pretty cool as well, but I really like Ubi’s verse on “Smoke”. That shit’s tight.
Ubiquitous: As far as shit that got bodied by Godemis, I feel like he bodied “Lotus”. It’s the perfect introduction, the perfect way to start the record, you know what I mean? That shit’s really tight to me. I hate to be on this ring around the rosie shit, but I feel like Godemis bodied “Get That”, you know? Everybody kind of got off on that track. Godemis wrote first though, you know? So I was like “fuck…” That’s what happened all the way around Godemis wrote first and I was like “fuck…” I talked to JL about it and was like “This dude ate on this track.” I’m halfway done writing and then I called JL and left my verse on his voice mail and that’s how that shit progressed and then JL came in and dropped it, like real swiftly. Can I give kudos to JL for being right on his tippy toes when it came to doing his feature for us? He came in and knocked it out like it wasn’t nothing.
JL: My favorite verses on there, I don’t know if you want to know my motherfucking opinion but I love both of the verses on “Wall-E”, because it gave me a paradigm shift, you know what I mean. I started looking at how much toilet paper I use. For real! Shit like that though. I go through a lot of motherfucking trash. Them verses, they really got to my mind man. When shit do that to me they’ll turn out my favorites.
Godi and Ubi, you both said in an interview recently that your guys’ favorite song is “Meditate”. Why is that so?
Ubiquitous: I think “Meditate” because I didn’t compromise my message or my artistry, but I still feel like I made something that could touch anybody. I really like “Meditate” for that. And it’s fun! It’s a great song, we’ve been out here doing it on tour. The audience loves it and they have our back on it and they’re all hustling and meditating and it’s fucking crazy. Everybody’s hustling and meditating bro. That shit’s crazy at a live show.
Godemis: That shit is gas. Ubi and I knew when we wrote it “Wait until this circulates and people are familiar and learn the hook!” We saw it miles and miles out, we’re going to split the crowd down the middle, this side is hustling and meditating, this side is hoping for a better day. That shit works great at a show man.
That’s the call and response number on the tour right?
Godemis: Right. We do that shit on Newsfeed (“Get Off”) too, the track with Mac Lethal, and have the crowd shouting “Get off my dick” and that shit’s funny. That shit’s real funny to me, you hear 3,500 people shouting “Get off my dick!” That shit’s funny.
Let’s talk about that track real quick, who wrote the chorus and where was your headspace at when you wrote it?
Ubiquitous: Well Jeff, let me tell you how the chorus came to be. I was sitting around using my computer brain, and I thought to myself “What I want to do on this chorus is say ‘Get off my dick’ a lot.” So I came to Godemis with my idea and I said “So here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to say ‘Get off my dick'”.
Why do you want people to get off your dick?
Ubiquitous: This is where Godemis’ portion of the hook comes into play. Why do you want people to get off your dick Jeff, well I’m going to tell you why. Because “If the head don’t fit…”
Is that it?
Ubiquitous: That’s all.
That’s fine. Now Mac Lethal destroyed his verse. Tell us about his contribution and how you guys responded when you heard that. Did he spit that in front of you guys?
Ubiquitous: Yeah we were all in the studio together.
Godemis: He was doing that shit on his iPad or whatver.
He originally gave you guys more than you needed at the beginning didn’t he?
Godemis: Oh yeah his verse was looong as hell. His verse was really long! (Laughs) Yeah. Dave recommended that we trim it up. The rest of his verse is hilarious. It’s funny. I wish y’all get to hear that.
What kind of opportunities do you anticipate opening up for you guys?
Ubiquitous: Man, how about a college tour? I’d love to do that. I’d love to see all the kiddies at the universities man and go shake all their hands because those are like my favorite fans. They’re so energetic and live. We’ve been out here doing some all ages and it seems like the younger the fans the more the energy, not to speak against the old school fans that have been with Strange forever, but we’re just tapping into the youth and it’s a beautiful thing. That’s exactly who I want to be talking to. I’m glad that they’re showing up heavy at our shows. It’s dope.
What do you guys try to keep in mind to make sure that this momentum keeps going, now that you’re starting to get your first taste of big national recognition?
Godemis: We gotta keep continuing to innovate man and stay busy is what I plan to do. I’m not about downtime. I’m not about being off tour and not being in the studio and I think we have to keep pushing our creative boundaries as well and that’s how we’ll keep the ball rolling and keep eating.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.