I've been sent some strange albums before that truly stretched the definition of what you could call "hip-hop," but Ceschi's "They Hate Francisco False" may be one of the strangest of all - easily top ten. That's meant both as a compliment and as criticism, but before I give away the whole review in the first paragraph here's a little background on Ceschi himself. He and his brother David Ramos founded Anonymous Inc. way back in 1994, and ever since then have been releasing avant garde experimental music recorded with the likes of Kofi and iCON the Mic King. They've been affiliated with everyone from Circus of the Shapeshifters to Dose One of Anticon, but don't feel bad if those aren't names you're familiar with. A lot of artists who push the envelope in the underground movement don't become household names, but then again a lot of them would rather be loved and respected by ten thousand than to ever sell ten million, in some cases intentionally embracing obscurity as a form of keeping artistic integrity.
Ceschi's "They Hate Francisco False" clearly fits that mold, because this is an album even hardcore underground hip-hop fans may have trouble relating to. Ceschi often seems to be singing instead of rapping, and as if that weren't hard enough to bend your head around as being a "rap album" he sings in what can only be described as a faux-Beatles accent. Many of the tracks on this album would seem perfectly at home mixed with folk music, trippy hippie rock from the 60's, the background noise at your local vegan cafe, or all of the above. In fact I'm not going to claim anything about the quotation that follows from "Optical Illusions" is hip-hop other than the words themselves. They probably look in print like they have some attitude, but you have to imagine someone who probably looks and sounds like Paul McCartney singing them as he strums a guitar to get the real effect:
"Late at night, while resting sticky eyed, sirens cyberfuck me
And it's been this way since hell froze over in 1813
One could, stood for colored vists, discovered California gold
In the mouths of horny non-gangster rappers from Vallejo
What a funny fucking feeling to be sucked into you whole
As the sun is screamin mercy while children step on it's toes
What a dirty fucking feeling when our naked skin collides
In the middle of the day as your father is gardening
I'm afraid it's an optical illusion
That you look so innocent tonight"
How bizarre. Trying to make sense of the album's theme is perplexing too, as it seems to loosely be an ode to a poseur named Francis who annoys all his friends with his bizarre behavior and "jokes that you have killed with in your own mind." And yet amongst all the singing and weird stylings of the album, there's still something essentially hip-hop here. There's a visceral boom bap in the background of "All of Us," and if examined from the right viewpoint Ceschi is not so much singing as rapping melodically, breezing speedily through his verbals in a form that would be surprisingly recognizable to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans. Ceschi is clearly a complex individual who is tormented by the thoughts in his own head, and strange albums like "They Hate Francisco False" are the musical remedy to cure what ails him. Take "Calluses" for example:
"Well here's that third verse that I usually cut from songs
And maybe it's a symbol of me finally moving on
Or maybe it just means that I never want to let go
Or possibly it's signifying the loss of self-control
And a last effort attempt to reach what's missing from my soul
Where those few visible words that won't even graze her earlobes
But I give it a shot - though, and rock slow enough
So she can know his breath just not, for the rhymes to say
He's trying too hard, he's making it tough
I hope she knows I give a fuck
More than head penises and pussies and Hollywood sluts
I'm sorry for not giving up, I'm sorry for caring too much
I'm sorry for giving apologies so many times that I'm stuck in a rut
I wish that this could be the last time that I said love
Cause sometimes wishes come true, so now this song is done"
Sentiments like these are definitely going to be too wussy for people who only rock Three 6 Mafia or Ice Cube, and may not even play that well for people who listen to the honest soul-searching of Murs or Blackalicious' own Gift of Gab. The fact Ceschi seems unconcerned about having hardcore credibility is both a blessing and a curse, as it gives him free range for bold musical and lyrical experimentation but also limits his ability to connect with the very genre he's trying to be a part of. There's a reason that other than Cowboy Troy most country singers don't rap, and for that same reason most hip-hop artists spend more time speaking than singing. Ceschi does the opposite, and unlike other singing rappers he's not vocalizing his love of guns, liquor and fine women; or if even only the latter of the three it's just to say how they broke his heart. Ceschi can be applauded for being bold and creative, but it's hard to imagine "They Hate Francisco False" playing outside of a college radio station or alternative rock scene. Since Ceschi Ramos seems to be cultivating that audience by design, more power to him. Simply by putting out the album there's at least a slim chance in hell someone could be rocking this and 50 Cent in their changer at the same time - but they'd probably keep it on the down low.
Music Vibes: 5.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: May 2, 2006