While not the most original of concepts, using the instrumentals of a well known producer to showcase your own skills in the vocal booth is a method that has and will continue to get rappers over. It happens on mixtapes all the time but for this outing, Austin via Virginia Beach MC Ced Hughes has cherry picked a handful of the beats from RJD2’s most recent offering, “The Colossus”, to pay tribute to the former Def Jux man while hopefully making a little noise for himself.
This EP serves as both an introduction and a reintroduction for myself. I, like most, am more than familiar with the work of RJD2; former member of MHz and now with four solo albums to his name, he is one of hip-hop’s most recognised beatsmiths. I fell in love with his debut, “Deadringer” and it still gets plenty of play although I’ve not really given his following albums the listening time that they deserve. In fact “The Colossus” only lasted two or three spins before it found itself gathering dust next to several other forgotten albums.
I have to hold my hands up and say that I know very little about the rapper on display here. I tried to do a little research on Ced Hughes but Google was giving very little away except his twitter account, his area of residence and his website where you can help yourself to free downloads for all of his releases. Since I can’t give you too much information on the man, I guess I’d better get down to the music.
The album kicks off with “Let There Be Horns” and Ced wastes little time in ripping RJ’s brassy track of the same name to shreds:
“Okay computer, transmit through the medulla
Tell these simpletons ‘bow down’, I am they ruler
No nigga is cooler, word to penguin flipper
Sip from the big dipper that’s holding some cheap liquor
Niggas ain’t get the picture so I put it in a frame
Polished it with Windex then spray painted on my name
Like ‘BITCH!’, that’s me and don’t ever forget it
Now roll that weed up and don’t leave no stems in it…”
As an introduction to an MC that I don’t know, the choice of beat for the first track coupled with the delivery of the opening bars really got me open. Ced struck me as an instantly likeable MC; he has a warm vocal tone, oozes confidence on the microphone and can definitely flow.
The opening track is followed by “Tin Flower Astronauts” and “Table Crumbs” and Ced again displays a knack for comfortably riding RJD2’s unorthodox beats. RJD2 has produced a wide variety of musical treats over the years, some of which are almost perfect for an MC whereas others are almost too crazy to even comprehend somebody spitting over the top. It’s those crazy beats that Ced takes and he actually manages to make it work, most of the time anyway. On occasion the selected instrumental is almost too huge for the MC and he seems a little lost in the big brassy backdrop. It’s understandable though, RJD2 is known for getting way creative with his instrumentals and since this is billed as a tribute to RJ’s album then maybe it is fitting that the stage is equally shared between producer and MC. I’m a lyrics man so became an instant fan of the title track where Ced spits hard over RJD2’s “The Stranger”:
“Ced Colossus, rock the skin of an ostrich
And stick my belly out like ‘bitch, I’m on some boss shit’
You on some Lord Zedd, ol’ Doctor Claw shit
Trying to bring my downfall but stay catching losses’
That type of shit makes me nauseous
like walk into a party and ain’t shit there but sausage
Where the hell the broads at? The ones that hate bra straps
That wear white tees and can’t seem to stay not wet
Hold up, let’s have a moment of silence
While I peek your eyelids, titillate your iris
Then hijack ’em like pirates and sell ’em to the eyeless
So they can see what it looks like to be the flyest
All it takes is some glue and some pliers
for me to get busy like I’m Mr. MacGyver…”
This track in particular, along with “Let There Be Horns” and “Fresh Since ’85”, have really put me on to a genuinely dope MC. Although the RJD2 connection will get attention, I can see many leaving this album wanting to hear more from Ced, whose liquid flow should see more heads wake up to him. For such an experimental, albeit short, project, Ced Hughes is consistent enough throughout this seven track EP to warrant delving deeper into his catalogue of previous releases as I’ve got no doubt that there are some gems to uncover.