I'm not going to lie, I was dubious of CeeDee and Coffee Black at first. On their mixtape cover, CeeDee is donned in a Red Sox hat and Coffee Black is sipping from a mug of coffee. Seeing as I'm a New Yorker, I'm predisposed to thinking anything Massachusetts is philistine. And even though I lived in Boston for a few years, that perception has remained unchanged. Boston is epitomized to me by a memory of a faux hipster wearing a Johnny Cupcakes shirt driving a motorcycle down Newbury Street blasting Chiddy Bang. I thought Colombian Raw, CeeDee and Coffee Black's debut tape, would be more of the same; a couple of (white) kids trying too hard to personify the "ghetto" aesthetic of, say, 50 Cent.
But this is hardly fair, and I shouldn't judge people on their appearance. Colombian Raw was unprecedentedly awesome. From a first listen, I became intrigued as to the background of CeeDee and Coffee Black. They're from Cambridge, Massachusetts--a locale known mostly for hosting Harvard--and I couldn't believe they could bring about something so hip hop. Eventually, I'll see what the duo are all about. For now, however, I'll just listen to their music and find out.
It's hardly been the best day ever for me. I lost my watch at a concert last night, and slept through my philosophy test this morning. I retreated into the woods with a couple friends, to rap, smoke and talk. Sitting on the edge of an embankment overlooking a stream, Colombian Raw played on a pair of portable speakers. It was uplifting listening to their debut effort. Coffee Black's soulful beats cut through the haze of my stupor, and CeeDee quickly proved he was doing more than mimicking others rappers' affects.
The subject matter is a bit trite, but this isn't the overly serious debut of a 20-something rapper desperate to make it. This is CeeDee and Coffee Black breaking all conventions, a pair of 17 year olds from Cambridge, MA making some seriously good hip hop in the vein of fellow Masshole Statik Selektah, rather than conforming to Massachusetts' affluent frat rap culture. And there's a much bigger market for the latter. Statik Selektah has not even 10,000 likes on Facebook and bro rapper Sammy Adams, "Boston's Boy", has over 400,000, yet the discrepancy between their hip hop accomplishments is vast. On Selektah's last album, 1982, he was joined by legends like Styles P and Inspectah Deck, though his money and fame doesn't bring the cocaine & sluts parties Adams is reputed to throw. It's hardly old news that having an artistic vision, and staying true to it, is far less lucrative than appeal to the masses.
This is something CeeDee clearly realizes. If a label should hear his music and bring his voice to the masses, he'd be down with it, but he isn't pressed on it. Until then, he'll keep cutting classes to get weeded, writing rhymes for the art of it and expressing himself through hip hop. CeeDee is doing nobody but himself.
He's no street kid, but he's broken out of the shelter living in a place like Cambridge inevitably provides, rhyming "I don't live in section 8, but I have friends that live it every day". His rhymes are clever, "I got more Sweet 16s than bitches on MTV", and funny, "she's Hispanic getting white girl wasted". Most intriguing, CeeDee embodies Boston's rebellious history. CeeDee is a "gold medal rebel", and he's poised to revolutionize hip hop like it's 1776.