‘It Takes Balls’ – Bernz Speaks On Appearance On CES Cru’s ‘Codename: Ego Stripper’, Positivity In Hip Hop

Jul 25 2014


Hope is a weird thing. If you have it, it can be the one thing to bring you out of a seemingly impossible situation, and if you don’t have it, it can seem to not exist at all.

“Hope” is also the name of a track from CES Cru on their new album Codename: Ego Stripper featuring Bernz of ¡MAYDAY!, and it deals with the many sides of hope.

To get a better feel for the track and what went into making the end result that will surely have fans banging their heads with a smile on their faces, we talked to Bernz about the track, the idea of hope, positive themes in hip hop, and more!

Check out the full interview below.

How did your appearance on this track come about? Did CES Have you in mind for this track specifically, or was it kind of “We want you on the album in general but we’re not sure where yet?”

It was a little bit of both I think. I was lucky enough to be in Kansas City when they were recording a little bit of the album and I just kinda poked my head in the studio and I kind of bothered them to make them play me shit, one of those kinda things.

I was like, ” C’mon man let me hear the heat.” So we fuckin’ sat there and went through a bunch of songs on their album and it was all amazing obviously, and I didn’t bother them too much about it because I don’t like to impose. It’s their session I don’t wanna be an asshole, ya know? I was hoping they’d ask me to be on the album and they did so it worked out.

What did you think of the beat when you first heard it? I know it’s super lush and kind of shows a different side to Seven’s production.

Aw I love it man, yeah dude. I love that jazzy kinda stuff in hip hop and that’s what it kinda reminds me of, some throwback-y stuff like Boogiemonsters or like, the outtake of a jazz horn you wouldn’t expect or something crazy like that.

Like you said it’s super lush. It’s a dope beat. I loved the concept. It was easy. It was a no-brainer. It was like, “thank you!” It was perfect for me too because I like to rock on unorthodox more weird stuff than your more traditional boom bap hip hop type of stuff. Not to say that I don’t, but I prefer more weird kind of samples and that was dope to get that.

In your verse you portray hope as a drug, what made you go that route conceptually?

Because hope is like the only thing that gets people through you know what I’m saying? Hope turns into things like religion and all that kinda fuckin’ shit, people’s quest for hope and trying to have some hope that there’s a reason for doing anything, so it was kinda a no-brainer for me. It also kinda felt like maybe at the time that’s just the vibe I wanted in terms of…it’s just so right.

Your verse and this song in general has a very positive vibe, and you talk a lot about being an enemy of the “system” for talking about hope and positivity. Why do you think those are themes that aren’t portrayed much in mainstream music?

I don’t know man, I guess people usually are probably afraid to be themselves, because we’re all really born happy, positive people for the most part. I just think it’s partly that and partly because the industry is ran by whatever a 16-year-old kid wants to hear, and sometimes you just want that dark, gritty shit and that’s understandable too. There’s a time and place for all sorts of music. I just think the gangster and dark shit is dominant in the culture right now. I don’t know what kind of cultural or social events led to it being like that, but it’s kinda like if you were to listen to what’s popular right now it leans towards that.

So shit like this is kinda like…making songs about hope feels way more revolutionary and tough to me than talking about… whatever motherfuckers be talking about right now, just because people aren’t talking about it. It takes some balls to do a fucking song like that and make it sound dope.

Ab-Soul (Photo By Andrew S. Photography)

For sure. So what is your stance on dudes like Ab-Soul or Kendrick or say The Flatbush Zombies that kinda have both of those aspects?

Kendrick’s a great example of a person that I think is way harder of a person than any gangster rapper, because he’s willing to get personal for real and kind of drop some of the wall that you put up when you try to be that kind of person.

I think ¡MAYDAY! and CES Cru and some of the other artists on Strange, we have a certain kinship with each other and the audience that I feel like we’re a little more real and our songs are a little more personal than some of the other major label productions. Hats off to Kendrick for also being like-minded.

Have you gotten to hear any other tracks off the album?

No, everything that I heard was like, “Oh we’re gonna add this to this. We’re gonna do this to this.” It was all either almost-done or kinda-done kind of stuff. It was kind of in the early-middle of the process of making their album.

Do you think we’ll be seeing you working more with CES in the future, whether it be a future ¡MAYDAY! album or maybe a solo album?

Oh for sure dude, I can’t wait. I love CES Cru, they’re the homies. I love them like as people and I love them as artists, so I would love to work with them in some capacity at some point in our career and friendship. We’ve got other Strange artists that are coming down here to Miami to work with us so I hope we can add them to the list.




  • Who’s the true rebel in music, the gangster or the hope-pusher?

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