From the incendiary lines to local peers to the brash assertions of deserving whatever’s coming their way, “Give It To Me” plays like an extended status update from the KC rhyme duo. Over a production that sounds like Seven sampled the funkiest bassline that was already sampled in your favorite hip hop song from the 1990s, CES Cru slices and dices their way through critics, naysayers and non-believers.
For an insight into the hard-hitting number from Codename: Ego Stripper, we talked to Godemis and Ubiquitous themselves, who broke down the flows and content of the song.
How did this beat come about?
You know what I don’t recall I how that came out.
Tell me what the song is about to you.
It’s definitely an interactive song. It’s to be performed live. I think the song is about rallying the fans and getting motherfuckers more of our love to some whit where “If you with me then where the fuck you at?” Type shit. That’s what it gets off into.
What fueled your verse in particular and what are some of the things you touch on?
Again I talk about “Arranging and packing the Civic.” Motherfuckers aren’t rolling around in Maybachs and shit. Ironically enough we the broke motherfuckers and shit who ain’t all flashy but who will probably out-rap you – that’s what I’m into. That verse kind of touches on that. The fact that the game is really the rap skills and not anything else so much. Not any trends per say or anything like that. Just holding yourself to a standard lyrically.
Motherfuckers wonder or ask me advice on how to get there, or that they’re an up-and-coming artist and what should they do. Advice is weird to me but I guess when I think about it the first thing that comes to mind is that I never gave up. I just kept doing the shit and I held myself to a standard of making sure it was dope and rapping hard. I feel like that’s not advice that I should have to give to an up-and-coming artist, but that’s normally what I say. So in saying “Give It To Me” I’m saying give me that support and give me that money. Come see me. Give me that money. Come pay to see CES Cru. It’s all in there.
When you make that request of “Give It To Me”, I would imagine that’s an easy one to stand by since you guys have been doing this for so long and since you guys do put so much dedication and adhere to a high standard.
It’s super-easy. I would never claim to be the best. Maybe I don’t even deserve it as much as someone else, but what I did do was go get it. I went and got it and spent a lot of time not getting paid and out-rapping motherfuckers and being the illest rapper in a room full of ten rappers. I’m better than all nine of these guys on my worst day and I’ve been that way. So yeah the record speaks for itself.
Again, motherfuckers can’t question CES Cru. I’d rather have the body of work that we have and the experience that we have and be able to say “Give It To Me” rather than have just hopped in the game: “I’ve been rapping for two years, now I have a record deal.” I mean that’s cool, but I have a huge body of work – a successful body of work – behind me that is still flourishing to this day. Yeah so it’s super-easy to say “Give It To Me”. I gave it to y’all and have been giving it to y’all. Now give it to us.
The flow patterns employed are remarkable. It’s fast rap but done in this old school style that’s reminiscent of 90s shit. Was that intentional?
Well I think for me what I didn’t want to do was get into the bibbity bappity, super-fast rap. That shit’s cool if you’re really good at it. I feel like there’s an overabundance of that shit. I feel like everybody feels like they’re good at that shit. There’s way too many guys doing it and they’re fucking it up for the guys who are really good at it. It sucks because I like to play with patterns and I like to speed it up. I like to rap in that cadence. Some of my favorite songs are written in that cadence and in that flow pattern and I’m fairly good at it myself so I like to do it, but man everybody’s butt-raping that style and I couldn’t do it, but I still wanted to. I had to change it up for myself, not even necessarily to make it old but it’s interesting that you say that. Now that you say that I think a lot about Das EFX, Fu Schnickens, or Big L.
I just had to step away from that for myself on a personal level. There’s less of that on this album. Sorry and shit. People who want to hear that machine gun shit…I mean that shit’s cool and I like hearing that shit but there’s less of that on this album and that was totally a conscious decision, to step away from that and challenge myself and the listener – to wean them off of that and open their mind and open their ear.
How did this production come about?
Seven had a lot of ideas about the direction this album should take production-wise and what the fans have warmed up to as far as our sound and what they may be expecting or avoiding to hear on another record. So this is one of those that Seven came to us and he was like “I really feel like we need to hit them with something that sounds like this.” I’ve heard fans comparing it to “Juice” and it is kind of like that. It’s a throwback-y record, great beat with short loops. It’s dope. So that’s kind of where the beat takes you on there.
How does having such a sparse instrumental affect your flow pattern?
I don’t really think about writing the flow pattern in those terms. There’s just a vibe to the beat that really kind of instructs me on where to go and how to go over it and where to take it. That’s just the era. When I was listening to this beat, I’d listen to it and I would see pictures in my head of old school hip hop. Like what it used to be like during the Run-D.M.C. era. There was a real focus on DJing and breakdancing and graffiti and stuff like that, so that’s what popped into my head. That’s what it felt to me.
When you write a flow pattern, such as the fast one you employ towards the end of your verse, does the pattern come first? Is it unconscious by now?
Shit. It just happens so many different ways. I’m trying to remember how I made that verse. I think this verse is actually created in two sittings. Most of the first half was all in the first sitting and then there’s a chunk of it I added in another sitting. I don’t know. There’s a good round of bars in this verse that are actually supposed to go on someone else’s record that, I’m not going to tell you who or for what, but something happened to where I can no longer do this song with this person, but then I was starting to read these bars and then I ended up finishing the verse anyway and kind of addressing this person and these groups of people. That’s how it ended up happening.
The bulk of my verse is kind of about really trying to come up in KC for years, and I’ve been doing that and there’s been a lot of other guys around me, guys and girls, trying to come up in KC and we’ve been doing that together and I’ve been witnessing them and they’ve been witnessing me. I think that that’s what I was speaking about, like “How did I get where I am?” I don’t know, I guess I just wrote about it. I wrote about my experience about how I got to where I am and what it took and where I’ve seen other people break and misstep where it didn’t break me and I didn’t misstep. Certain things break certain people and other people can persevere through stuff. That’s basically what it’s about.
From the time that it took it’d be hard to believe that there wasn’t a time where you almost did break. Was there ever a time where you told yourself “I might have to figure something else out.”
Yeah. That was a long time ago and I did figure that out. I worked in service full-time for a decade and so that was it. I didn’t not have a job and just try to like live off of these little piss poor shows in billiard halls and shit. I never really did that.
I guess I always kept the rap shit in check proportionate to its effect and meaning in my life. If it was pretty meaningful then it had a larger focus, if it wasn’t that meaningful then it didn’t have that much focus. I didn’t want to put an unreasonable amount of shit into it just to not get it back. With that said, I put way more into it, probably still to this day, than I have gotten out of it. I’m getting a lot out of it these days. It’s really paying out lately but if you can imagine to rap for a dozen years or more in total obscurity, that’s what it is. I don’t think I’ve been paid back yet.
When you say “Give It To Me”, what is your interpretation of that chorus? What are you saying?
I mean yeah, give me my props and give me what’s coming to me, as far as my dues have been paid and I’m ready to do this shit for real. You can go ahead and give it to me and it doesn’t have to have a weird thing about it, like I didn’t work for it or I don’t deserve it, because that’s really not in question anymore. So you can go ahead and give it to me. I said “Played the boss, paid the cost, rather than stay lost,” and those are basically the choices that I see as an independent rapper. You can either play the boss and pay the cost to play the boss, which is to invest in yourself and be a fucking entity, rather than stay lost. That’s what I did. “Now I need that prime cut, slathered in steak sauce.” Meaning that I’m ready to eat now and “Matter of fact I’m taking all of that and then I’ll take more” so give it to me, you see what I’m saying? I’m taking that.
In those times when you weren’t eating, what did you draw from that kept you somewhat focused on this path?
Eating meaning what, money?
I think there’s different ways to eat off the shit and I was always trying to eat off of recognition of my city and of my peers and who I considered to be people that I looked up to that do what I’m doing. There’s recognition to compete for always in various circles. So that’s what drove me for a long time. It was never really about money. I rapped for over ten years and never really made money off it. I put money into it.
Why is it so important for you to be good at this? What drives you to try to be the best at this?
Shit, I mean I don’t know. I guess I don’t like to half ass things. If I’m going to attach my name and my self to something then I want that to be associated with quality. Yep.
When you said “Good lord KC, while you’ve been acting like some poor babies.” What are you talking about?
I think that there’s a lot of people in Kansas City that specifically feel like they should have been picked up by Tech N9ne more so than CES Cru. For those people that can’t appreciate our grind and our music and our flavor and what we do, they can’t understand it. They literally feel like Tech made a mistake or they’ve been overlooked and this type of shit and they don’t understand why we would occupy this slot that we’ve been chosen for. To those people I would say reevaluate the shit and really take a look at it.
Stop looking at yourself so much and maybe look around at what’s going on around you and it’ll start to make more sense.
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