Ces Cru, featuring Godemis (Donnie KIng, left) and Ubiquitous (Mike Viglione). Ces Fest is Friday night at the Riot Room, 4048 Braodway. It's a wo-stage celebration of hip-hop that will feature DJs, rappers, break dancers and live art. Four to five acts will perform inside, including a "special guest." Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $12. It’s a 21-and-older event.
Sometimes getting the right break depends on whom you know, and sometimes whom you know is a function of where you’re from.
Kicking off an all-night hip-hop fest and preparing a new EP, hip-hop duo Ces Cru is making the most of a big break that came a few years ago courtesy of a star thriving in its own backyard.
“It was a big show, and Tech came out to watch,” said Ubiquitous or “Ubi,” half of Ces Cru with Godemis. “We opened the show. He saw us, kind of pulled us aside after and gave us props and said he liked what we were doing. We were very humbled by the compliment. Afterward, we chummed around a little in the green room.”
The relationship with Tech and Strange Music, his label, would slowly flourish after that. In 2009, a bartender friend of the duo’s slipped Tech a copy of Ces Cru’s new CD, “The Playground.”
“He listened to it and got turned back on to us,” Ubi said. “That was the beginning.”
It was the beginning of a series of collaborations. Ces Cru opened for Tech N9ne at the Beaumont Club, then joined Tech and Strange rappers Krizz Kaliko and Kutt Calhoun on “Livin’ Like I’m Dyin’,” a track on the “Bad Season” mixtape.
Then even bigger things started happening: Ces Cru appeared in the video to “Unfair” from Tech’s “6’s and 7’s” album. The video was recorded live at Strange Music headquarters and posted on YouTube in February. It has since drawn more than 400,000 views.
“We’ve gotten a lot of attention outside Kansas City,” said Ubi, who has been with Ces Cru since 2001. “He has plugged us into his national and international fan base. His fans are extremely loyal. If he endorses someone, they pay attention. It’s not like they like us blindly, no matter the quality. But they’re like, ‘Welcome to the family.’ It happens all over the country and out of the country.”
The attention has spread beyond Ces Cru. He and Godemis each released solo projects last year, Ubi said, and each was downloaded free more than 6,000 times.
“That’s kind of crazy, even if it was free,” he said. “Those are impressive numbers for us.”
The independent, underground-rap group has been around since 2000 but a duo since 2004, the year it released as a trio its first full-length, “Capture Enemy Soldiers.” Not long after that, Sorceress left the group. Before that, it was a loose affiliation of rappers, and the lineup changed regularly. Before releasing “The Playground” in 2009, the two released a few small projects, working with a variety of producers. For “Playground,” they settled on producer Leonard Destroy and “our sound became very cohesive,” Ubi said.
Its sound, he said, has “a futuristic vibe. It can be synth-heavy, bass-heavy, jungle-influenced. It’s hard to describe.”
Lately the duo has been working on its first official release on Strange Music. The EP “13” is being prepared for a fall release. Ubi would say only that it will have five to seven tracks and that it will be available digitally and with a small physical run. “Nothing at stores,” he said, “but at Strange Music events.” Other than that, mum’s the word.
Friday night, however, he and his partner are hosting Ces Fest 2012 at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway, an all-night, two-stage celebration of hip-hop that will feature DJs, rappers, break dancers and live art. Four to five acts will perform inside, Ubi said, including a special guest. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $12. It’s a 21-and-older event.
The plan is to make Ces Fest an annual event. Given how the duo’s momentum has built and will likely continue after it births its first Strange Music project, Ces Fest 2013 seems like a safe bet.
“We’ve been getting calls from people out of town and out of state who plan on coming down,” Ubi said. “It’s going to be great. It’s All-Star weekend. We’re very excited.”