Thanks to Tech N9ne, Mackenzie, and Lucid Flows, we’ve gotten small glimpses into Ces Cru’s upcoming album Catastrophic Event Specialist. As amazing as it is to hear from those who helped make the album, we have yet to hear from the Cru themselves.
With Catastrophic Event Specialists release just days away (February 10th!), we grabbed one half of Ces Cru, Ubiquitous, and begged him for some insight into their most potent, powerful release to date. From the features, to their writing style, to his goals beyond the album, Ubi’s insight will make the first (and the hundredth) listen to Catastrophic Event Specialists that much more engaging.
How did you come up with the title? What does it mean?
Catastrophic Event Specialists is one of the root acronyms I came up with a long time age. The original acronym for the group was the “Conglomerate Elements of Self Consciousness” and I just sprouted off from that. This one existed since, probably, 2003 in rhyme form on the Iron Giant mixtape that came out in 2007. I have a list of thirty of them–many many C.E.S’–and I’ll root through that list to find what feels like it fits the situation and the art and the times and this one just stuck with me.
I was trying to react to what was going on in society in a broader since. There’s so much to work with, you know. Donald Trump got elected in the middle of writing and recording. That’s just the social political side of it. Musically we were reacting to how popular music has evolved, how music sounds, what’s trending and what’s going on hip-hop culture. It felt like it was time for the Catastrophic Event Specialists.
There are six producers on the album, how did you create a cohesive feel with six different producers? What direction, if any, did you give them?
A lot of that comes from Seven. He is reacting to some of the beats that other producers turn in and is making complimentary beats not only to compliment his own production, but other productions on the record to tie the entire record together. This album in particular has a very bright point in it and a very dark point in it. That’s something Seven and I worked on as were creating a record creating hybrids of “this” sound and “that” sound, of other songs on the album to create that cohesion.
With the exception of Joey Cool and Info gates on “Ghetto Celebrity”, all other features are Strange Music artists, was that a conscious decision? How did you choose the guests for each song?
Everybody that is on the record is somebody I truly fuck with. I’ve been on tour with everyone but JL and I have worked with JL for years; we just haven’t toured. These are the people we know. It utilizes the resources we had around us, but also getting a chance to make certain songs I’ve been wanting to make with these people. Everybody did great. Strange has such a strong roster, I figured, go ahead and utilize that.
With a traded/ shared verse style, we’d imagine you have to write with Godemis. Is that the case? Can you describe your writing process?
Our writing process varies. We approach it every different way you could think. We write together in the same room, we bounce ideas off each other, pass the paper around. We write separately. A lot of the times, I don’t even write anymore really, I write in my head and just rap into a Dictaphone. We do the e-mail bit. He’ll start the song. I’ll start the song. We use the ability to create variety because we got two people instead of one and it garners different results. It’s cool having a partner. It’s a fun way to make music.
What album or albums were the biggest influence on you?
I’m influenced by rap from all different areas, but Hieroglyphics on the West Coast and Wu-Tang on the East Coast were my central influences. 36 Chambers might be why I started rapping. Wu-Tang had a ton of records I followed. I was subscribed. They were such an influential movement in hip-hop, if you start looking at who they worked with when they branched out it lead me to everybody.
Working with E-40, Tech and Scoob have a definite West Coast influence. Was there a big Bay influence in your music?
I never sought out Bay Area music like E-40 or Mac Dre but coming up through the scene in Kansas City, I’ve just been exposed to Bay Area influenced music. For whatever reason, our music is prevalent out there and their music is prevalent here. There’s some sort of marriage between the Bay and Kansas City, it’s kind of crazy.
This is your fifth release with Strange Music. How different are your goals now than when you signed? What are your goals moving forward?
I still have a lot of the same goals. Check off doing national tours, but I got to get my justice in a lot of different arenas with who I view to be the movers and shakers in the game. Whether it be other rappers, or Sway and Shade 45. I have some things I need to do that I’ve been wanting to do. I’ve been wanting to be on the Wake Up Show since 1998. That’s where I first discovered Tech N9ne. I don’t know if its tragic or not (laughs), but I still have some of the same goals from 15 years ago. I’m hungry still. I got work to do. I haven’t got what I wanted out of this shit yet.
Fascinating stuff, Ubi! Have you ever actually really thought about what it’s like for two people to write one album? Now just imagine recording when you have to share bars like that. Who knew Ubi discovered Tech from the Wake Up Show? Just picture a young Ubi being blown away by Tech only to be signed by him fourteen years later!
Though an interview is insightful, you can really learn what Ubi is all about, who he really is, when Catastrophic Event Specialists drops on February 10th because like any great emcee he puts himself on display in his music. While you wait for February 10th, we recommend getting acquainted with the (C)ru (E)ssential (S)ongs Spotify playlist.