Ces Cru

Ces Cru comes up with a new acronym for each of its releases. But after feeling held somewhat captive by the title of 2013's Constant Energy Struggles, Ubiquitous and Godemis felt creatively liberated when they settled on Codename: Ego Stripper as the title of its second Strange Music album.

"On Constant Energy Struggles, I felt like we were constantly defining what that meant from song to song," Ubiquitous says. "On this one, we're not spelling it out for you."

"The thing that appealed to me about that name is that you couldn't put a finger on exactly what that meant," Godemis adds. "I felt like that was a good angle to come from in writing the music, with no preconceived ideas. I thought that it would open up our writing and draw people in."

The Kansas City duo showcases this newfound latitude on the skeletal "Sound Bite." Sans chorus, Ubiquitous and Godemis deliver stunningly intricate, braggadocio tag-team raps for three-and-a half minutes. "It really showcases our lyrical talent," Godemis says of the Internet hit that has logged more than 70,000 YouTube views in about two weeks. "The beat's kind of empty in a way to where your ear's not taken away by a lot of other different things. The lack of a hook is suicide in a way, I guess, but it's for another MC or a connoisseur of hip-hop."

Ces Cru then flexes its sociopolitical muscles on the masterful "Axiom," a meditation on everything from making a positive change in the world to the War on Drugs and the concept of freedom. In addition to the lyrical heft Ubiquitous and Godemis demonstrate, producer Michael "Seven" Summers adds stirring sonic layers throughout the song. "I really like the pianos that start popping up during Godemis' verse," Ubiquitous says. "The whole front half of the song feels different than the back half. By the end, you're rocking out to the piano. It's a beautiful, thoughtful piece."

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