Day: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Door Time: 7:00 PM
Age: All Ages
Advance Ticket Price: $32
Day Of Show Price: $34
|Aaron Dontez Yates (born November 8, 1971 in Kansas City, Missouri), better known by his stage name Tech N9ne or Tecca Nina is an American rapper, co-owner of Strange Music Records and actor. His career has spanned 24 years, during which he has released ten albums. His tenth studio album, K.O.D., was released October 27, 2009. He has spent his illustrious career making sure he’s been grinding harder than the average rapper, and is the best selling artist out of his hometown. With nine solo albums and two powerhouse collaboration projects under his belt, the Kansas City MC’s flow is sharper and slicker than it’s ever been.
Samuel W.C. Watson better known by his stage name Krizz Kaliko, is an American rapper and singer from Kansas City, Missouri. He is a long time collaborator with fellow hometown native, Tech N9ne, even being signed to the label that Tech co-owns, Strange Music.
Krizz Kaliko began his musical career in the late 1990s when he began working with a local producer by the name of IcyRoc Kraven. Another local rapper by the name of Tech N9ne was also collaborating with IcyRoc at the time, which led to the two rappers meeting. Tech N9ne was currently working on a song titled “Who You Came To See” and Krizz made a comment that the song could have a better hook. Tech offered up the opportunity to prove his case, and Tech was blown away when Kaliko proved just that. Tech would bring Kaliko into his “inner circle” which would eventually result in Kaliko signing to the label co-owned by his new found friend.
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|For Stevie Stone, the release of Rollin’ Stone, his debut album on Strange Music, signals a move
beyond his past and his arrival with the premier independent rap company. “The album is all
about progression,” he says. “It’s about my shift from Ruthless Records over to Strange Music.
Everything about Strange is about getting out and touching the people. Everybody’s in tune
with the music and with w
hat I’m doing. I’ve got their undivided attention. They make sure they
know and understand their artists.”
Stone backs his words up on the explosive, bass-heavy lead single “808 Bendin’,” which features
a remarkable verse from Strange Music honcho, Tech N9ne. The two bonded early on regarding
their mutual love for the 808 drum machine that was a signature of many classic rap songs
created in the 1980s.
“I’m 808-driven,” Stone says. “I love that pulse, that backbone. Without pulse, there is no life.
That’s what Tech is always saying. I heard the beat for ‘808 Bendin’,’ did the verse and the
hook. I thought it was something way, way different for Tech.”
Stone keeps the energy at a fever pitch on the confrontational “Raw Talk”, featuring Hopsin and
SwizZz, the menacing “Get Buck” and the stark “Keep My Name Out Your Mouth”, featuring
Elsewhere, Stone showcases his storytelling abilities on the tremendous “Dollar General.”
Inspired by the 2007 film, Street Thief, Stone flows with a controlled fury about robbing a series
of businesses. WillPower’s somber, piano-driven beat and the whispery chorus, delivered by
Yelawolf, create a potent, otherworldly, sonic ambiance. “I put it like it was a dream,” Stone
explains. “I’m not saying that I’m the one that’s robbing. It’s almost like I’m watching the movie
and fall asleep. It’s about my dream.”
Music has enabled Stone to live out his dreams and escape his problems. On the soulful “My
Remedy,” he details how his problems fade away as soon as he hits the stage. Nonetheless,
music has not provided a total escape. The wistful “2 Far” reveals how Stone’s love for music
has created tremendous struggle in his relationship with his woman.
Then there’s the dramatic “My Life.” On this emotional cut, Stone details the challenges he’s
created for himself and his family by pursuing his music career. Although the emotions were
raw, the song took Stone nearly two years to write. “I was wrestling with how much I want to
give to the people,” he says. “It’s revealing a lot of stuff. I’m talking about my being away from
my kids, my family and loved ones. I’d been writing it for a year or two because I had the beat
for a minute, but I didn’t know how much I really wanted to put out there. I just let go and let the
music take me.”
Music has taken Stone on the road. Given his love for touring, it makes Stone a natural fit on
Strange Music, as one of the company’s key components is its touring enterprise. Add in Stone’s
bond with Tech, his high quality music and his dedication to his craft and it’s no wonder Stone
is the latest addition to the Strange Music roster. It’s also why Stone wrote the song “Perfect
“My first show ever, when I was in high school, was with Tech. Eleven years later, it comes full
circle,” he says. “I’m on the label. It’s something that I’ve always wanted. I think I’m a perfect
fit with them.”
Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Stone has been surrounded by music his entire life. His
mother was a singer and choir director who played piano and organ. One of his sisters also sang
and played instruments. While his mother favored gospel, blues and the work of Marvin Gaye,
Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, his sisters listened to rap and R&B, providing a wide
range of sounds, styles and artistic influences.
By the time he was five, music consumed Stone. When a beat would start playing, Stone would
be instantly compelled to dance. He later started playing the piano and practicing on the drums.
Stone was simultaneously developing his basketball skills. He received an offer to play
basketball at a junior college in Des Moines, Iowa, and was going to pursue the opportunity.
A few weeks before he was slated to report to school, Stone landed a performance as an
opening act at a concert at the Fulton Fairgrounds. “When I hit that stage, I got the bug,” he
recalls. “There was no doubt about it. Music was what I was going to do. I’ve never turned
Within a few years, Stone secured a production deal in St. Louis with Fly Moves Productions,
requiring he relocate from Columbia. Stone jumped at the opportunity. “You should never be
content with where you’re at,” he says. “I’ve got the shoot-for-the-moon-end-up-in-the-stars type
Stone signed in 2007 with Ruthless Records, the label founded by the late gangster rap pioneer
Eazy-E and the recording home of N.W.A. While signed to the imprint, he learned the work ethic
needed in order to succeed in the music industry. He realized that an artist has to do as much as
possible for themselves and not rely on a label.
So, when Stone parted ways with Ruthless a few years later, he was poised for success. He
reconnected with Tech N9ne and Strange Music, which had developed into rap’s biggest
independent success story.
Now, with Rollin’ Stone about to arrive in stores, Stevie Stone realizes that his climb to success
isn’t over. “After every ladder, there’s another ladder. You’ve got to keep climbing the ladder,
keep moving. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
Steven T. Shippy, better known by his stage name Prozak, is an independent rapper and film director from Saginaw, Michigan. He's a member of the group Project: Deadman with Mike E. Clark as well as the group Bedlam. He is one of the few rappers of Egyptian descent. In 2011, he officially signed with Strange Music, although he had previously released albums with the label.
|There were times when more hip-hop albums sounded like this, like Ces Cru’s Constant Energy Struggles, the Kansas City duo’s debut full-length album on Strange Records. There were times when albums were formulated around concepts big and small, dedicated to pushing envelopes, sharing pin-pointed messages and built around lyrical conceits that required intense listening, confident rhyme flows that created new patterns, music that thumped and bumped and pounded and grooved. Those times are not now, but Constant Energy Struggles arrives in this moment—sounding not like an anachronism or a revival, but a celebration of a lineage that, while overshadowed by other aspects of hip-hop, has continued to evolve and progress outside of the mainstream.
It’s only fitting that Ces Cru—comprised of rappers Godemis and Ubiquitous—would release Constant Energy Struggles. For the past dozen years, the two have operated mostly as a duo, all that remained of the much larger Ces Cru.
“Ces Cru was a collective of like-minded individuals,” says Godemis, a founding member of the group since high school. When he first began rhyming, he was simply doing cover versions of albums like Mac Mall’s Illegal Business? “The thing at the time was to be able to learn the rhyme and not only know the lyrics, but to be able to spit them at the same capacity as the record. It was like having a guitar and learning a solo.” One day, during his sophomore year, while he was reciting some Boot Camp Clik verses, a classmate who was already rhyming, gave him some backhanded encouragement: Oh that’s cool, but you should write your own shit. “He said it like he was the shit because he was writing his own stuff and I wasn’t,” Godemis recalls. Not long after, a friend approached Godemis with headphones and let him hear a verse he had recorded over Das Efx’s “Microphone Master.” That night Godemis wrote his first rhyme. Soon enough, Ces Cru began to take root.
“We made a lot of music without any clear direction,” says Godemis, adding that Ces Cru became infamous for shutting down ciphers and studio sessions about town. “We just tore up the streets in Kansas City together. It went from being more like a gang to a group as things progressed, as we started booking shows and actually making albums and putting time and effort and money into the music. We just thought that one day we could possibly eat off this rap life and we enjoyed out-rapping motherfuckers.”
When Ubiquitous—a Colorado native who grew up on acts like Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J and the Fat Boys as well as metal, punk rock, ska and electronica—moved to Kansas City in 2000, he had already been polishing his rap skills over jungle beats. “I used to rhyme at raves,” he admits. “I guess that’s why I like fast-paced rapping and making really progressive rhymes, stylistically speaking and content-wise.” Though Ces Cru had swelled to include six full-time rappers and had declared membership closed, Godemis was impressed by Ubi’s skills during a recording session and invited him to join the group. As time went on, members moved, moved on, went to jail–leaving just Godemis and Ubiquitous. “These days, it’s just him and I: Aquemini,” jokes Ubi. “We discussed the prospect of admitting other people into the crew, and even really strongly thought about it multiple times. But when it got down to the wire, we were like Nah, it just needs to be me and you. We’re probably done adding members for life and we’re just out here mobbing together.”
Together, the duo independently released 2004’s Capture Enemy Soldiers (featuring appearances from former member Sorceress) and The Playground in 2009—both heartfelt, intricate works of beats, rhymes and life that play with music, words and ideas with astounding ease. Since signing with Strange Music at the end of 2011, the duo has released a pair of solo mixtapes—Godemis’ The Deevil and Ubiquitous’ Matter Don’t Money—as well as an EP, 13. Their new release, Constant Energy Struggles, takes everything that has come before it and advances the
argument for hip-hop as a wordsmith's affair.
Inspired by conspiracy theories, metaphysics and everyday labor pains, Constant Energy Struggles contains lyrical exercises like the Tech N9ne-featured “Juice,” a masterful homage to Rakim’s classic “Juice (Know the Ledge)” and the four-bar patty cake “When Worlds Collide” which finds Godemis being “too fly” before crash-landing and “looking for the black box, FBI search methods/Soul of Saddam, I’m the motherfuckin’ bomb/ Check it: inspiration of Hitler/ Bruce Lee’s work ethic” before Ubiquitous picks up with “Sun Tzu, manifest a Dalai Lama mindstate/Hijack a G6, trippin’ tryna fly straight.”
Produced by longtime collaborators Info Gates and Leonard Dstroy as well as Strange music’s go-to beatmaster, Michael “Seven” Summers and others, Constant Energy Struggles is a well-rounded affair, both musically and topically. The slow blues-rock of “Smoke” and the slight psychedelia of “Confession” address the issues of balance, strife and love within romantic relationships. “Wall E” speaks on the destruction of the Earth: “People pretend like the shit they using just disappears/As if it doesn’t accumulate every fiscal year/ Shit don’t evaporate, vanish without a trace/ There’s a island made of trash, you can spot it from outer space,” raps Godemis.
Closer to home are tracks like the rejoiceful “Shake It Up,” the introspective “Perception” and the menacing “Fuck Me on the Dough”—songs which deal with the ups and downs of blossoming fame: the delight of success, the expectations of fans, the shadiness of promoters. “Constant Energy Struggles comes from real life experiences,” confesses Ubiquitous. “Everything I’m talking about is stuff that actually happened to me in the past or recently.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening number, “Lotus” where Godemis notes that they “came a hell of a way from battling squads, murdering features” and admits that “they might’ve been local forever had Tech not swooped them.”
But Tech N9ne did swoop them. And Constant Energy Struggles signals that Ces Cru is just beginning.