Ceo, short for can't ever outdo, not the chief of executive operations, is an artist from Mechanicsville, VA that has become an enigma of sorts within the 804. When he dropped his project, This Is A Cry For Help back on February 20, 2019. Ceo is known for his emphatic delivery over self-produced electronic beats and became recognized as a producer as much as a rapper. Then he didn't drop any new music until this week with And I Haven't Cried Since. I took some time to speak to Ceo who I covered before on other platforms about his growth from TIACFH to AIHCS.
Jay: And I Haven’t Cried Since picks right up where This Is A Cry For Help in 2019 left off. TIACFH was an album where you expressed feelings of disdain, sadness, and pain over electronic melodies similar to Toronto artist Jazz Cartier and his Hotel Paranoia album. To further dive into your previous sounds, on the last album with the track Piñata, you added some mariachi band instrumentation to make an upbeat dance song where you say verbatim "I beat myself up like a piñata". While you have tracks like Ignoired that have a dark jazz style influence that makes you feel like you're in the LA Noire video game as a detective smoking a Newport during an interrogation What did the album do for you personally from the epoch of TIACFH to today with AIHCS?
Ceo: So here’s the thing: This album is not inspired by my previous work believe it or not. I wanted there to be nostalgia without it being a carbon copy on paper. There are similar elements within the production, but it paints an entirely different picture. This Is A Cry For Help was mainly about how I was feeling, And I Haven’t Cried Since is not only about how I feel, but it’s mainly about what ended up happening to me.
Jay: One thing I noticed production-wise that’s different from the first listen is that the transitions from one song to the other are damn near seamless where it plays like one continuous song rather than changing from one song to another. For example, the transition from the end of Phone A Friend to Slide meshed so well. You do continue the theme of the electronic melodies and pairing it with slightly distorted vocals from TIACFH. Talk to me about how you worked on the track Slide. What made you float vocally singing about the drama you can’t hide and wanting people to slide to you to resolve conflict?
Ceo: I wanted there to be a contrast because after my suicide attempt I didn’t want to phone a friend. But then when I recognized that I can’t fight this battle alone, I knew I needed someone to talk to. That realization literally came to me overnight and that’s why I wanted that transition between those 2 songs to feel the same. The electronic melody in that song is by far the weirdest melody I’ve made a beat from. But it ended up working so well and I love how it came out!
Jay: On AIHCS you have several features. Two that stand out to me are Northern Virginia’s own Migo Arias and Richmond-based artist HesDandy, which I covered here before. Compared to your last album, you had zero features on TIACFH. What made these two artists stand out to you to have Migo on Tempted and HesDandy on Type Beat?
Ceo: I’ve wanted to work for Migo for a very long time. Like, back when he didn’t even know I existed. In 2019 right after I dropped TIACFH, we had a show in Charlottesville and we were on the same bill. I came up to him before my set and introduced myself and said, “I know you don’t know me, but I really want to work with you.” He said, “Yeah man for sure!” But I felt like he was just being nice, so then I said, “Don’t say yes yet. I’m going to come back to you right after my performance and then you tell me your answer.” I performed and the rest is history.
HesDandy is my closest friend, and I wanted a song that felt like Wow Freestyle by Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. Because Dandy and I would always be in the whip freestyling back and forth for hours on end. The chemistry you hear in that record was always there between us so this song was the easiest to make by far.
Jay: Is there a significant reason for the number of features including Ja-P on Comfy, Desperry on Out Of Shape, and Geronimo On More Than What’s Left?
Ceo: There is absolutely no reason for me to have that amount of features. I just tapped the people I knew would give each song life. And they did everything they needed to. None of it felt forced whatsoever but what’s also crazy is that none of us re-wrote our verses for any reason whatsoever (Other than Geronimo because he is a machine and has like eight verses in the truck for literally any situation).
Jay: To focus on More Than What’s Left, you boldly said that “All the drama you see, I deserved this shit, it’s the karma for me and don’t say you feel me, stop bothering me... stop telling me that a song I made about my suicide attempt saved your fucking life. You can pay your homage, can pay respect, but I’m the only one that paid the fucking price...”
Then, you proceed to finish the song by saying you’re not who you used to be and how you’re tired of talking. In the process of making that song, did you feel like you got over a struggle mentioned throughout your music mentioning deleterious habits and recognizing how it led to being injurious over the past few years? Or has a new issue arisen that you mention in Comfy of how repetitive it is to talk about those issues because it could be something you’ve moved on from?
Ceo: I’m so glad you picked up on that. The last track, Motive really puts that entire thought process under a microscope. I talk about how music is my outlet was a good thing for me, but the way I went about it is what ended up being the worst thing for me, which ultimately led me to quit everything music-related. It took an unforeseen toll. What saved my life and got me out of so many situations ended up being what put me in worse situations when it was all said and done. I had to learn how to be okay without music and I figured it out. When you’re passionate about something, like, TRULY passionate, it defines who you are because of how much time you put into it. I let it define me in the wrong ways and with this project, I figured out how to do it in a way that’s safer for me.
You can find Ceo's music on all streaming platforms and check it out on Spotify. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @canteveroutdo
Written by: Jay Guevara @justinhisprime on all social media.