It all started on stage.
While opening for Devin The Dude in Kansas City, Ces Cru thoroughly impressed hometown rap kingpin Tech N9ne. Tech motioned to Ces Cru’s Ubiquitous and let him know that he loved what he was hearing.
Fast forward a few years to Kansas City barbeque staple Jack Stack. There, a friend of Ubiquitous gave Tech N9ne a copy of Ces Cru’s 2009 album, The Playground. Tech took the album home, listened to it and Tweeted that he was vibing out to the music of Ubiquitous and his partner-in-rhyme, Godemis.
In 2010, Tech N9ne and Strange Music CEO, Travis O’Guin, called to offer Ces Cru a slot on Tech N9ne’s forthcoming Bad Season mixtape. Along with the mixtape appearance, came an opportunity to open for Tech at the Beaumont Club, a prestigious KC entertainment venue.
Ces Cru’s impressive contribution to the Bad Season track, “Livin Like I'm Dyin”, along with their energetic live performance, paved the way for the duo to join the Strange Music roster. “This is like passing the bar or something,” Godemis says. “It’s a really big deal. It means everything to me. I feel super-validated. We’ve been working for a really long time and this is the best place we could be.”
Indeed, Ces Cru has been putting in work for nearly a decade. The crew went through a number of different group members before becoming the trio of Ubiquitous, Godemis and Sorceress in the early 2000s. In 2004, the group released its debut album, Capture Enemy Soldiers. But while promoting the project, Sorceress wanted to fire the group’s then-manager. Ubiquitous and Godemis disagreed, so Sorceress departed the group.
The impact of Sorceress’ exodus was immediate and significant. “Sorceress’ leaving definitely shaped how our next record was going to go,” Ubiquitous says. “We had to focus on a new dynamic when we were making songs. We had to figure out how to fill that space. The formula goes from just everybody just submits a verse and we put a chorus together to now it’s just kind of fluid. Her leaving made us break that writing box that we’d been in. We had to fill more space, work harder.”
Part of working harder included appearing on a bevy of albums, mixtapes and recordings from local and regional artists. Another important undertaking was securing production and producers for forthcoming Ces Cru material.
Ces Cru found its new sonic partner in well-rounded producer Lenny D. “He was someone who focused all of his efforts into us,” Godemis says. “We didn’t have that and we needed that.”
Both Ubiquitous and Godemis dedicated themselves to writing more potent, intricate and meaningful rhymes. They also enhanced their song-making skills, better understanding how to strengthen the impact of their material thru doubling vocals, ad-libs and learning how to better navigate production with their voices.
The hard work certainly paid off. Ces Cru’s next album, 2009’s The Playground, signaled marked artistic growth. Ubiquitous and Godemis earned critical acclaim thanks to such songs as the break-up anthem “DYT,” the chest-thumping “Float” and the politically-charged “Teeter.” In fact, the release contains such powerful material that Ces Cru will be releasing videos for The Playground cuts “Hate Season” and “Eye on Dat” in 2012, a full three years after the album’s initial release.
As the group continued their evolution, Ubiquitous and Godemis realized that the meaning of Ces Cru also changed with the times, too. Originally an abbreviation for “Conglomerate Elements of Self-Consciousness,” Ces has also taken on the additional meanings of “Children Everywhere Smiling” and “Cost Effective Strategy” to Ubiquitous’ recent favorite “Can’t Entertain Stupidity” and Godemis’ tongue-in-cheek “Can’t Eat Sweets.”
“Having the name stand for different things brings a certain versatility to our culture,” Ubiquitous says. “We’re constantly building our own personal culture and adding to it.”
The next additions to Ces Cru’s catalog will be Ubiquitous’ Matter Don’t Money solo mixtape, which features the standout selections “Harmony of Spheres” and “Larry David.” Godemis’ The Deevil will also come out in early 2012, prior to Ces Cru’s debut Strange Music LP. The duo is starting the pre-production process with Strange Music production stalwart Michael “Seven” Summers (Tech N9ne, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne).
Now, after grinding for years in the underground, steadily building its following and releasing high-quality material, Ces Cru is set to take a major step thanks to its recent signing with Strange Music and its visionary artistic leader Tech N9ne.
“We’re from the same era of music and like the same kind of things,” Godemis says of Ces Cru’s relationship with Tech N9ne. “Tech sees something different in us and always comments that we’re on some real MC stuff. We put our best into the music. I think Tech sees that and can tell we’re not some flash-in-the-pan group. We give it our all.”
Creating Endless Success may be the next thing Ces Cru is known for.