Krizz Kaliko, Mayday!, Stevie Stone, Prozak, Ces Cru
301 Ashworth Rd
West Des Moines, IA, 50265
The Kansas City rap king has sold more than 500,000 albums independently, performed in front of more than half a million people in the last three years and established himself as one of underground rap's most respected artists. With the impending release of his third national album, the monumental Everready (The Religion), Tech N9ne is poised to graduate from one of rap's best-kept secrets to a major international superstar.
After experiencing a number of professional setbacks while promoting his critically acclaimed Anghellic and Absolute Power albums, Tech N9ne felt that Everready (The Religion) was an affirmation of his staying power. "I wanted to name it Everready because if you look at the old Eveready batteries, their logo included nine lives," Tech explains. "That album title symbolizes nine lives, another life after death. I've had a lot of deaths in the music industry and there's still life after all that. The Religion, the reason I subtitled it that is because I want this album to be something that's being studied or praised. It's like calling it a doctrine."
Such a mandate is a natural conclusion after listening to Everready (The Religion). The album teams with blockbuster songs and stellar production. "Jellysickle," for instance, features Bay Area rap legend E-40 and a thumping, addictive club-ready beat from superproducer Rick Rock (Jay-Z, Fabolous). Despite the track's freshness, it made Tech N9ne think back to his early material.
"It reminded me of an old Tech N9ne, like 'Mitch Bade,'" he reveals. "It's like a 2006 'Mitch Bade,' so I had to talk about the same thing: jealous people, stupid people. Kansas City is a place where hatred is at an all-time high. I thought it would capture that persona of the ghetto."
As Tech N9ne has emerged as one of rap's most innovative, creatively fearless artists, there has been a segment of his fans who feel that he's abandoned his hardcore background. Tech addresses the situation on the aggressive yet elegantly produced "Come Gangsta." "After all these years of people telling me that my music was for white people, that I needed to come with gangster stuff," Tech says. "Music is supposed to inspire and evolve. Andre 3000 isn't still doing 'Player's Ball.' He evolved. That was always on my mind, that people were always telling me to come gangster. When it comes to it, my one gangster song can demolish their whole CD. I was inspired to write about the type of people that were telling me to come gangster."
Tech N9ne delivers more high-energy heat on "Welcome To The Midwest" with Big Krizz Kaliko. He continues his harder edge on the macabre "My World," with Brotha Lynch Hung, and the warped "In My Head." On these two tunes he raps about mad and sad topics, things that pain him. He expresses a similar sentiment on "The Rain," a touching ode to his wife and children. Much like Tech N9ne's classic "This Ring," "The Rain" features Tech N9ne giving his fans an intimate look into his life and his career, a look made all the more personal because the song features his two daughters rapping about how much they miss their father.
"Any man with a kid that's on the road a lot can relate to that, whether you're a musician, a doctor, a director," Tech explains. "A lot of people are not to be there for their family in the flesh, and they're hurting because they miss their loved ones."
People of all backgrounds can also relate to friction in their relationships. Tech N9ne conceptualized the riveting "My Wife, My Bitch, My Girl" during a low point in his marriage. "At the time I wrote that song, me and my wife were doing really bad," he reveals. "I wrote that song in my bitter stage, when I was saying whatever I wanted to say. '(My wife) don't like me/(My bitch) gets hyphy/(My girl) might knife me twice just to spite me.' That's how I had the balls to write it. I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to release it."
Tech N9ne then talks about his breast fetish on the sinister "Flash" and about his crew's road adventures on the heavy "Groupie." But touring hasn't been all fun and games for Tech N9ne. On the rock-influenced "Riot Maker," he details some of the problems he's had while trying to perform for his fans. "At the time, we were going through a lot of things," Tech says. "I wasn't able to go to Hawaii because the promoters said my music incites riots. At the same time, this girl was trying to sue me for $100,000 for cracking her own skull at my show and I wasn't even in the building yet."
An explosive recording artist, Tech N9ne has long earned praise from his fans because of his ability to deliver mind-blowing raps about his struggle to navigate through life's pitfalls. His willingness to shed his ego and allow his followers to look at the high and low points of his experience has earned Tech N9ne a rabid, dedicated following.
"A lot of people when they come up to me, they say, 'The reason why I like you Tech is that you say what you feel and you're not afraid to say anything,'" Tech says. "That's so tight because so many use discretion. I think I've inspired people to say what they feel because I've opened my life up for people to see."
With such powerful music, it should come as no surprise that Tech N9ne's reach continues expanding. Several of his songs are featured in the forthcoming Alpha Dog film, which stars Justin Timberlake and Sharon Stone. His music also appears on the latest edition of the fan favorite Madden NFL video game series, as well as the action video game 25 to Life. He also appears as a playable character on the latter.
But for now, it is all about indoctrinating his fans to Everready (The Religion). "This is Anghellic, Absolute Power combined," Tech says. "If I could have titled this album One Big Clusterfuck, I would have because I think it has everything. It has the personal stuff Anghellic had or the party stuff that Absolute Power had. I think this is my best work." Believe it.
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 what 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."
Normal is not a word that people used to describe Prozak. Not his appearance, not his music,
not his views on life and society. So, it makes perfect sense that the Saginaw, Michigan rapper
selected Paranormal as the title of his new album on Strange Music.
"I chose that title because genre-wise I can do rock-rap, the hip-hop, storytelling, a little bit
of the dark stuff," reveals the artist-director also known as The Hitchcock of HipHop. "I'm
Paranormal to the music industry. One thing I keep hearing from people whether it's A&Rs or
publicists is that they've got to figure out how to market me. After hearing that so much, I felt
like what I do is paranormal to the scene. My music is something that's outside the range of
normal. This is not cookie-cutter hip-hop. You can't say this is gangster rap or backpack rap or
that this is just for the hipsters. You're not going to be able to categorize it that simply. I make
complex music for complex people."
Indeed. Bolstered by production from Mike E. Clark (Insane Clown Posse, Kid Rock),
Michael "Seven" Summers (Tech N9ne, XV), Robert Rebeck (Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth Kings)
and The Legendary Traxster (Mariah Carey, Ludacris), Paranormal takes listeners on a powerful
lyrical and sonic journey into the mind of one of rap's most compelling artists.
"The Tell A Tale Of Two Hearts," for instance, was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short
story "The Tell-Tale Heart." Prozak's song, which sounds like Tim Burton meets hip-hop,
discusses what happens when two people are in love and one of them dies suddenly. The twist
is that the deceased person is still present in their lover's life. They do not want to leave their
Prozak then teams with a live band and DJ Starscream from Slipknot for "The End Of Us."
This hardcore track features Prozak exploring the consequences of living in a consumer-driven
"Everybody is worried about buying $300 and $400 cellphones," Prozak says. "It's like we're
farm-raised, like guinea pigs right from birth. Everything is marketed to you from the time
you're old enough to even understand what it is. It just happens at the beginning and goes all the
way through life. The funny thing is in the genre of hip-hop, everyone is worried about image.
All it does is push everything even further. Everybody's worried about $800 outfits and 20-inch
rims, but none of these people even have a lifestyle that can support that. It's about consumerism
and everybody being brainwashed into thinking that they've got a have these things in order to
be accepted. It spiraling out of control and eventually it will all collapse."
Another volatile subject Prozak examines on Paranormal is prejudice. On the charged
song "Hate," he looks at the implications of persecution based on racial, religious and economic
grounds. Shot in a train station from the 1880s that had segregated waiting rooms, the song's
explosive video features appearances by stand-ins for The Pope and members of the Ku Klux
Klan and Taliban.
Prozak takes a more optimistic approach with "Million Miles Away." On this thoughtful
selection, he wonders if humans would be able to create a utopian society if they could wipe the
slate clean and start over. While filming the video for "Million Miles Away," Prozak and his
team traveled throughout Michigan, Illinois and Missouri and had people explain the one thing
they would change about the world if they could.
As his songs and their subject matter demonstrate, music is about much more than image for
Proazk. It's about substance.
"People write about stuff that interests them and that they feel passionate about," he says. "The
topics on my album are the things that matter to me. To me, all you have is life. You have to
look at the things that are going on that are incorrect or the things that are affecting your life, the
hypocrisy of what's going on out there. All that stuff matters. I know that this is entertainment
and that people listen to music and watch music for an escape from reality. I wouldn't say that
I'm a political rapper, but a lot of those things do matter. In making music for people, I believe
you have somewhat of a responsibility to put something positive out there or bring attention to
things that people should be aware of for part of a greater good."
Prozak's razor-sharp focus has helped him become one of rap's most formidable independent
artists. During the last decade, he's appeared on four national tours and done more than 1,000
performances, where his moshpits rival those of any heavy metal show. The Michigan rapper
earned a lofty 3.5 Mics in The Source for his 2008 album, Tales From The Sick, and has
collaborated with Tech N9ne, Twista, Cypress Hill and Insane Clown Posse, among others.
As a filmmaker, Prozak released the first two installments of his A Haunting On Hamilton
film series, which opened with sold-old screenings of 2,000 people per screening in Saginaw,
Michigan. He also directs his own music videos, ensuring that his art is properly presented
Now, with Paranormal, Prozak has delivered a project that hits hard lyrically and aurally, the
type of release that stays with a listener long after the music stops.
"I wanted to put out the best record that I thought I was capable of, an album that would really
define who I am," Prozak says. "If you want to know who I am or what kind of artist I am, this
record will set that tone completely. It's a really deep record. To me, it's an album. It's not a CD
of tracks. It's an album. It has that feel."
A Paranormal feel at that.
Introduced to each other in late 2000, Ubiquitous and Godemis found an immediate chemistry on stage and began performing as CES CRU. Their first full-length album, Capture Enemy Soldiers, was released in 2004. Since then, they have won numerous MC battles, been nominated for three Pitch Music Awards and collaborated with local favorites, Mac Lethal, Miles Bonny and Human Cropcircles. The Playground, is available now! Hit our website www.cescru.com or just google cescru. We are on Itunes and physical copies are available at local Kansas City music outlets such as Streetside records or 7th Heaven. Keep digging and enjoy!