The pens that press upon CES Cru’s rhyme books are sharper than ever. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Tech N9ne Collabos – Strangeulation, where they hold it down for five of the album’s 17 tracks.
We talked to CES Cru on a live podcast to get their thoughts on the project. What resulted is one of the best and worst (depending on how you gauge it) interviews we’ve ever done. Working on their upcoming album Codename: Ego Stripper and about to head out for the Constant Energy Struggles tour has the two in prime form, which resulted in sarcasm, misdirection and arrogance (fake and real) appearing at an all-time high throughout the course of the interview.
The result is a read that is nothing short of entertaining and hilarious.
How are you guys doing today?
Godemis: Doing fantastic man. I’m fantastic. How you doing Jeff?
So I see you got your notepads out, you’re going to be drawing during this?
So anyway, we know you guys are working on your next album and we definitely want to get into that but first –
Ubiquitous: I thought we were going to talk about Strangeulation.
Yes, we’re going to dip into the near horizon and talk about Strangeulation. I at least want to give you guys credit for doing stuff on your own before we dip into this whole collaborative effort.
Ubiquitous: Because we do stuff on our own.
This is what you call a red herring.
Ubiquitous: I love fish.
So Strangeulation, you guys are on this album quite a bit. How did that work out? I have a feeling it’s a few factors, you guys are here, right?
Ubiquitous: I am here.
Godemis: I’m present.
Ubiquitous: I’m around. We’re right here man.
But it also seems like every time you guys got an opportunity you both knocked it out of the park.
Ubiquitous: For sure, Tech says go, you gotta fucking go. It’s an “Unfair” mind state. LIke “This may never happen again.” You have to murder it, every time.
You guys have fellow murderers on the roster in which if you don’t do that it’s going to stand out.
Godemis: Yeah if you’re whack…yeah.
Ubiquitous: Yeah if you’re whack expect it to stand out against all the tight shit. That’s 101 Jeff.
Godemis: Yeah if you’re whack everyone’s going to notice.
“That’s 101 Jeff.”
Ubiquitous: That’s 101 Jeff!
Wow that’s really condescending.
Ubiquitous: (Laughs) 101 Jeff!
From your perspective, how was it to make an album where you had everyone available. How was that process because you guys go to Strangeland Studios, Seven’s there, Tech’s there, Ben’s there. It seems to be of a more collaborative. Did that change things? How did it change things?
Ubiquitous: The difference is, I go sit in the other room and write my verse, versus like, sitting in my crib?
Do you like sitting in your room or do you like sitting in your crib? Is there really a difference?
Ubiquitous: I guess yeah, sure there’s a difference.
Do you like the “new” way or the “old” way?
Ubiquitous: I like all the ways Jeff. I’m a versatile person.
Godemis: Every which way.
Ubiquitous: Every which way but loose, Jeff, because our shit is so fucking airtight. You know what I’m saying? You picking up what I’m putting down?
How do you guys feel from a production standpoint? It definitely has a more hip hop feel to it, just based on a lot of the drum sounds.
Godemis: What are you talking about, Strangeulation still?
Godemis: Oh man yeah, it’s some hip hoppy stuff on there.
Do you think that’s why Tech threw you on a lot of tracks like he did?
Ubiquitous: Because it’s got a hip hop sound to it? I don’t know. I don’t know why Tech threw us on the tracks. I mean I think that he just wanted to make some good music so – and we like to make good music and so we all made some good music together. But I do see what you’re talking about as far as the hip hop influence on the new set of beats. The Strange Cypher, as many have heard, is kind of hip hoppy whatever. It’s whatever man. Maybe that’s the way the game’s going, maybe it’s not, but either way we just went out to kill it no matter what. There’s one on there called “American Horror Story”. Now that’s not necessarily really boom-bappy. That’s not a “hip hop” song but we had a great time making that. It’s a real character driven song. I don’t want to spoil it.
Let’s talk about “Which One” then. The one that you’re on Godi.
Godemis: Mmhmm. I’m on that one.
You’re on that one. Tell me about how that song came about.
Godemis: The King of Darkness actually got at me in an email. I guess he had a dream and had the hook and wanted me to say it or whatever, that it was going to be me, him and MURS on it. At the time we were already in the process of making Strangeulation so it’s pretty much just go when it’s go time. So I just went in there and whatever, I just wrote my verse, came to Strangeland and laid down my verse. MURS is actually in town about to lay his verse down and Tech hadn’t written yet but he was on his way of doing that. Yeah, so like I said, at the time it was just filling the blanks and doing what needs to be done. Then I thought about it like after the track was recorded and came out super dope and shit. Same thing kind of like “American Horror Story” where there’s a consistent pattern and style to the song which I think makes it stronger. Then after the fact I’m like “Fuck man I’m on a song with MURS and Tech N9ne. It’s kind of crazy,” because I grew up listening to MURS. The whole 3:16 and 9th Wonder shit, so it’s super ill to be on that song. Of course MURS killed it and Tech killed it.
I didn’t know you listened to MURS like that. How have you guys been vibing out with MURS lately? He’s a huge fan of you guys.
Godemis: Yeah man.
Ubiquitous: Yeah man, vibing with MURS. It’s been real cool in that way. We got to vibe with him a little bit back on Paid Dues when he put us on that set.
Ubiquitous: Yeah that kind of let us know really early on that MURS is really in our corner. So yeah, we’ve been vibing with that guy a little bit. Might get some new music done with him even. Something like this.
Back to “Which One”, there’s a line that starts off the track: “Which one of you idiots claim to know me, you don’t have a clue, so back up lil homie.” Are there some situations that you encounter that inspired that line?
Godemis: You know, I don’t want to go too much into it because I don’t want to give anyone too much light, but definitely people feel like they know what you’re about or they know your caliber and all this types of shit. They claim to be on your level. The struggle’s personal and motherfuckers are not on my level and shit, so that’s pretty self explanatory. It ain’t no super like deep shit. It’s just like man, a lot of people do like to be like “That’s the guy, that’s my guy.”
I can imagine you guys encounter a lot of that here. You guys were like KC’s hip hop and now you’re on a much bigger scale…you motherfuckers are drawing right now.
Ubiquitous: Yeah. I mean, I’m still paying attention.
I mean I understand that, but you have to understand from my point of view, I put time –
Godemis: Oh shit.
– time into these questions.
Ubiquitous: Jeff can I say something? Can I say something Jeff? Can I finish? So, we are Kansas City hip hop God dammit. Maybe we have grown into something that reaches farther than that, but that’s not something that we are greater than. We’re still Kansas City hip hop. We’re not greater than Kansas City hip hop, we are Kansas City hip hop, but we reach farther than Kansas City hip hop. You see what I’m saying? That’s an important detail, Jeff. An important detail.
But does that ever cause some weirdness with the people who knew you when you were local?
Ubiquitous: Unfortunately, yes.
Well that’s too bad, and I don’t want to delve into too much negative energy, but to anyone who’s giving you that weird vibe, is there anything you’d like to say?
Godemis: I’d like to say thank you.
Ubiquitous: He said it.
I want to talk about one last thing with “Which One”.
Godemis: Let’s go.
Your different personalities. Who’s who? Who am I dealing with right now? Am I dealing with Godemis? Donnie? Are you the Deevil?
Godemis: Donnie? Who’s that?
I want to know who Jason Dean is.
Godemis: Oh man that’s another – it gets fucked off but yeah Jason Dean is also present. They’re all present all at the same time.
Can you reveal a few of them?
Because then it all gets spoiled. I’m supposed to put all the little pieces together otherwise it’s too easy.
You don’t want to give away the ending.
Okay. How do you guys feel about this album as a whole now that it’s done? Have you guys given it a listen?
Ubiquitous: What album?
Ubiquitous: Yeah we listened to it all the way down to South by Southwest and back when we went to South By recently. It’s dope man. Dare I say the best Tech N9ne Collabos album ever created.
Why do you think so?
Ubiquitous: Uh, I just think that it’s really focused. I think for a long time, Tech fans that have heard a lot of his Collabos albums from Misery Loves Kompany to on down the list, Welcome to Strangeland, whatever.
Godemis: The Mixed Plate.
Ubiquitous: The Mixed Plate. There’s a lot of them out there but I think what’s different about this one from the other ones is that the people, the voices, the majority of the voices that you’re going to hear on this project are, we’ve all had time to actually build together, to spend time together, to converse, travel together, rock stages together, have a little bit of a catalog to precede this, so there was an excellent creative foundation on this record that is more tight knit and I think the music benefited from that.
Kind of like a collective conversation instead of putting randoms on tracks.
Ubiquitous: And I’m not trying to call nobody random, but for the most part this record is ninety five percent signed Strange Music artists.
This is a clique record.
Ubiquitous: A little bit. It’s Strange Music and we are stamping our fucking foot into the ground – let y’all feel that.
Do you guys have any favorite verses from each other?
Ubiquitous: Off of Strangeulation?
Ubiquitous: Okay. [To Godemis] You go first or I go first or you go first?
Godemis: I’ll go first, you’re Joe Davis. You know, look, hands down the “American Horror Story” verse is so fucking gas. I was kind of taken back when cousin presented it to me. I was like “Damn! Motherfuckers are going to be weirded out by this concept and the fact that you came with it like that.” For how cousin usually gets it in, I think it makes it a treat for the listeners and those who may hold Ubi in a high regard and know his caliber and know his range, because I think he challenged himself on the song. Conceptually alone. The bars there, it’s always rhythmic and all that, but even the concept and how everything lined up and the character. I basically filled in the blanks. I write off his block and it inspired me to do my verse. I’m sure Tech would say the same thing.
Ubi, what’s your favorite Godemis verse?
Ubiquitous: It’s hard. Part of me wants to say the cypher verse, part of me wants to say “Which One” but I guess I’m going to go “Which One”. That is what that song’s called right?
Ubiquitous: I’m not good with song titles. I don’t know what the fuck shit’s called! Anyway, that one man. I feel like he really put his foot in that motherfucker on “Which One”. Just really set the tone on it. The song’s got a nice ramping effect to where it stays interesting. I feel like Tech, MURS and Godemis are like SWAT and just waiting at the door and Tech and MURS are on either side and Godemis and took the center and he said “Now!” and kicked the fucking door in and started clearing the room. It’s hot man. I can’t wait ’till y’all hear “Which One”. It’s dope man. There’s a bunch of cuts on there man. I think we might be on there like five or six times, so it’s hard to choose! It’s hard to choose!
Godemis: Oh yeah because I forgot about fucking “Great Night”.
Ubiquitous: There’s another one on there called “Great Night”. There’s “Nobody Cares”.
Ubi, you’re on your party shit on “Great Night”.
Ubiquitous: A little bit.
That’s not something you’re usually doing.
Ubiquitous: I mean…
Godemis: He took it there.
Ubiquitous: I can take it there.
Godemis: He took it there and brought it back, I think.
Ubiquitous: Yeah, I take it there and bring it back when I’m done.
Did you write that verse in a limousine?
In general do you guys have any favorite moments on the album?
Godemis: There’s a real ass skit on the album that goes down between Ubi and Tech – and I’m a fan of skits. I know in the world today motherfuckers look at that shit like an afterthought and like “Fuck a skit,” and that’s true, unless it’s a hot ass skit, and this skit that goes down between Tech and Ubi is hot for a couple reasons, but mainly because these guys are really candid and it’s a real conversation, real words that they shared.
So with that said I think from a listener’s perspective and a fan’s perspective they’ll probably think like “Are these motherfuckers actually talking like that?” Yeah! Motherfuckers call each other and talk about shit and it’ll come through on this skit too. Keep in mind when you hear this skit that that’s a real conversation.
Ubi you got anything?
Ubiquitous: Stand out moments on the record? God damn. I mean…
I know you guys have been busy making your own record so you probably haven’t had as much time to digest it and listen to it and dissect it.
Ubiquitous: I mean I’ve digested it a little bit. I’ve definitely had a chance to get into the record somewhat. Tech N9ne is doing some special things on this record dude. Tech’s got some showcase verses man. Don’t for one second think that Tech was like “Ah, I gotta do a record with everybody on the label and just make some songs,” or whatever. He took the opportunity for this staging point of Strangeulation to say some shit and he says a lot on this record, addressing his personal life and the industry and otherwise. It’s kind of dope man. Tech’s really making some statements on this shit and I like that about it.
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