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Ceschi - Playing With Expectations
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When you go to a hip-hop show you don’t necessarily expect to see a guy hit the stage with a guitar in his hand. “I kind of like that,” Ceschi says with a smile, “I like not fitting in at a show and kind of tricking the audience into paying attention to me.”

One of the New Haven resident’s favorite such moments happened in Berlin, Germany. “I was playing with my friend 2Mex out there and it was like this straight up dance club,” he remembers, “girls were dressed up all fancy and they were just there to dance and party. I picked up my guitar and did one of my saddest songs, I opened with that, and I saw these girls straight up start dancing to it. There were maybe five girls trying to move to my slowest, saddest, song.”

An accomplished emcee, but also an accomplished musician in a host of other genres of music, Ceschi was recently named Best Indie Rock act in the Advocate’s 2010 Grand Band Slam. It’s an honor he says he was thrilled to receive, because although his recent solo work was been more on the indie hip-hop side of things, he’s always embraced and performed a variety of styles of music.

Born in New Jersey, and having spent his early years growing up in Berkeley, CA, before moving to New Haven as a young teenager, Ceschi found hip-hop early in life. While in California he became interested in rap music, although mostly pop-rap, as a youth, and even had one of the DJs from Digital Underground living down the street from him. Despite being surrounded by hip-hop, Ceschi notes he still explored other genres of music. “I was really into rock, punk, metal, and it was kind of on and off. When I came to CT I actually really got back into (hip-hop).”

His musical journey took another interesting turn when a band he was a part of, Toca, found themselves with a record deal thanks to Snoop Dogg’s management team. The world of the mainstream music industry, however, didn’t turn out to be what he was looking for. “It was really bizarre working with all these people who had this real mainstream attitude about how to release our music. The experience just made me really wanna put out my own music in my own way.” Toca broke up in 2007 and Ceschi got to work on creating Fake Four.

Fake Four is the label Ceschi launched in 2008 thanks to the help of Grimm Image Records in California and Squids Eye Records in Ohio. According to Ceschi “without their support we wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground.”

The name Fake Four comes from Ceschi’s four fingered right hand (he’s missing a pinky), and is also a reference to his first album, Fake Flowers, that came out in 2004. The label has also more than just gotten off the ground, it’s become a major force in the indie hip-hop world. When Fake Four put out Freestyle Fellowship co-founder Myka 9’s 2009 album, titled 1969, Ceschi says “that when I realized we were really getting serious. That’s when we first got our publicists. Myka 9 is one of my favorite rappers ever, so when I could put out his record I realized that we were pretty much a legitimate label and doing everything.”

In the past year indie hip-hop labels have been dropping like flies, the biggest being Def Jux, which went “on hiatus” this past February. The ever growing roster at Fake Four, combined with the ever shrinking number of labels putting out indie hip-hop, has quickly put Fake Four in a position of prestige. “It’s intimidating in a way,” Ceschi says frankly, “but at the same time, people are showing us that love.”

While the label is, much like Ceschi, not limited in any way musically, Ceschi’s latest release, The One Man Band Broke Up, is a decidedly hip-hop effort. A thematic album that revolves around a main character named Julius, Ceschi says “it’s kind of like a Ziggy Stardust kind of story in the sense that it’s the old rise to fame, bitter defeat, kind of tale. It’s very personal. A lot of it’s about indie hip-hop, and the state of indie hip-hop right now, and the music industry right now. Some of the stories within the concept are directly taken out of my life on the road and the people I’ve met.”

Ceschi’s been telling those stories worldwide, and he’ll be hitting the road again next month to tour the UK with Akil from Jurassic 5 and Louis Logic. Before he heads overseas, however, he has two shows in CT (see inset), just don’t be surprised when you see him hit the stage with a guitar in his hand.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:20 AM  
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