Yo Cease Gunz… also known as Cesarino, by those who have been following the Milanese underground scene for the longest time! Over the years, in fact, you have changed several names and sounds, but your approach to rap did not change: raw street rap, prolificacy and what we can define as a “mixtape” attitude.
First of all I want to thank you for considering me for this interview, I have never done many in 16 years of RAP. So, I made my underground debut as Cesarino in the “GAME OVER” mixtape by Jack The Smoker. In 2011. Immediately after some time I changed it to Cease Gunz.
The constant change of “street names” was just due to the sound change I gave to each record, a bit like the Milanese graff writer RAE REALE, who often changed tags to experiment his lettering, the attitude was the same but in my case it was purely on a sound level.
As for the mixtape attitude… Well, I grew up with mixtapes in my headphones, from Pete Rock and Marley Marl’s “Future Flavas” to Funkmaster Flex tapes up to G-Unit Radio etc etc. That stuff for me is like water, I can’t live without it in my everyday life, so I try to emulate it, without copying clearly.
I embarked on a more modern sound path in 2012 when I met my brother Young Trex, who released an ep with Gordo, “Cotto & Trappato“: I listened to it on Datpiff and I said to myself “that’s fire”, because it was always RAP, but with fresher productions and modern. I decided to get myself into it and for quite a few years I released many independent mixtapes with those sounds in free download until the great debut on spotify, in 2018 with G.Nano we dropped “Kartello. An LP completely edited by me, with very important international productions: Metro Boomin, 808 Mafia etc. etc.
Due to some quarrels with the manager I contacted for the beats, we had to remove the album from the platforms, and from there a bit of that imaginary collapsed drastically, in addition not being a fan of the Trap environment, not having any kind of contract or musical bond I decided to go back to the origins, then breaks, samples and bars, nothing more simple and cool.
But at what moment and how did your passion for Hip-Hop and your desire to test your skills publicly arise?
My passion for Rap music was born when I was very young, I went to elementary school, my older brother Andrea was one of the DJs on Friday night at Sio Cafè, a well-known Milanese club. This was about 25 years ago, he gave me a mastered and mixed compilation from him of the songs he played in the nights. I only listened to one of his tapes for more than a year, in a CD player taken with the points of the Esselunga.
I remember that some time later, every week with my father we went to the Virgin Megastore in the Duomo and every week I bought 2 records. The first hip hop albums I bought were, “Wu Tang Forever”, “No Limit” by Snoop Dogg, “The Chronic” by Dre, Dj Quik “Balance & Options”, “The Infamous” by Mobb Deep, Slick Rick “The Art Of Storytelling ”, later my brother burned to disc all the records he had and I discovered: Rakim, Foxy Brown, Az, Nas, Guru.
At the age of 14, among the hood crew, I heard these 2 guys improvising rhymes and rapping in Italian over instrumental, I was shocked, and instinctively I threw myself in the middle, even if I wasn’t up to it.
I recorded my first piece late, at 15 in 2006 with my longtime partner “Fabie Mangianastri” with whom I founded the duo “KILLA BEEZ”. We recorded in a cellar with the microphone of the PC, that piece is on youtube among others.
From there it all began, and after the feat on the Jack the Smoker’s tape I began to believe in it seriously.
The themes of street rap in Italy, as well as abroad, are often abused and exaggerated. You, born and raised in the Bonola hood, have always made street rap as your flag, describing, however, actual Milanese street realities, certainly more credible than the American cliches, far from Italy ones. How do you relate to these kinds of street themes? What leads you to focus on talking about certain topics?
The themes I deal with in my pieces are not invented, they can be fictionalized a bit clearly, like those who make films based on real stories, but there is nothing invented in my lyrics.
I come from a popular neighborhood, like many others in Milan. At 15 I was already away from home in a juvenile, a family home for minors, because I experienced extreme situations as a teenager. In my crew there were drug dealers, thieves, robbers, addicts and so on and so forth …
At that age you absorb what you live outside, certainly not at home with your parents, I have had all kinds of experiences regarding street life and I will tell you with the most total sincerity, in comparison to my friends and people of mine old crew, I was just a half-notch thug, I was arrested several times for serious and less serious crimes and definitively sentenced to 3 years in prison, thanks to settlements and legal loopholes.
Mine is not a boast, but it is a fact and an element that I cannot and do not want to hide. I’m certainly not proud of my past, but no one can stop me from throwing all this into my lyrics.
Rap as I see it is a life experience lived in first person, my detailed way of describing street life and why I tasted a lot of it, compared to many of my colleagues who travel with the imagination or denigrate my contents because they think they are made up.
I don’t have to justify myself to anyone, those who know me know, those who don’t know me can only blather!
Aren’t you afraid that this kind of lyrics are now inflated and therefore of being taken for one of the many Italian rap clones or clowns? And what do you think makes the difference when a rapper talks about the streets, what makes him credible and what makes him a valid rapper, worthy of attention, in a sea of clones?
I’m 32 years old and I’ve spent half of my life on the street, Gangsta rap doesn’t exist in Italy! Those who rap about guns and kilos often, don’t even know how a real gun is made and even if I knew what it means to have a firearm it does not necessarily mean that I have to say shit in a song. I think I am one of the only ones in Italy who has not invented my lyrics. Only if you know something about street life, you can get it in the lyrics of a rapper if he is a “bla bla” or if he is a real one.
A lot of people say “those who are really street, don’t say it in the songs”. This is a great bullshit, said by people who know absolutely nothing about RAP and STREETS: people like Prodigy Mobb Deep (RIP) like Rakim or JAY Z , they have always mastered street lyrics, but if you do it in Italy you are a clown and this reasoning applies only to some and not to others.
For example as concerns Guè (Guè Pequeno is a well known italian rapper. ed’s note): It is known that he did not grow up in the hood or that he never had money problems, he always projected in the texts what he saw around him and what his friends did, a bit like those of the Milan’s upper-class who go around with the thugs from the hood to feel part of that world.
I’m not afraid of being a clone, because I do it my way and nobody can undermine my credibility, neither in the underground nor in the mainstream.
You released a few months ago “Pizza Connection” and soon you will come out with “Pizza Connection 2” and in both projects you have collaborated with Italian and international “street lyricists” of the underground scene, equipped with great pens and an attitude similar to yours as Lil Pin, Terrasanta, Dro Pesci, Willie Stubz, Maku Go, Dafa and many others. How were these projects born and what bonds do you have with the rappers you collaborated with?
The collaborations were born for mutual esteem and personal and artistic respect, Italo (Lil Pin) and I already collaborated 10 years ago, and we also found ourselves in some track together in various tapes, so there was already some respect and a great understanding also on a musical level, in addition to the fact that for me PIN is the top rapper in Italy and the only Italian rapper that I consider clearly stronger than me.
With Willy (Willie Stubz) we met on Instagram because I wanted to make bars on an old beat of his and from that moment a friendship was born. An ep will be released with him soon.
With Dro Pesci the same thing, with MAKU (Maku Go) there is a great respect and a great friendship, he discovered my stuff and from there we started to collaborate because he appreciated and I also think he fully understood my stuff.
With Dafa , same…We met at a few events in Turin and I asked him for a collaboration for this project and he gladly accepted.
You also produced most of the beats. What can you tell us about your side as a producer, certainly less well known? How long have you been producing?
I’ve always made beats! Actually I started at 17 y.o. with FL STUDIO, initially using the sounds that were already inside the software, while for the drums I used the packs of Alchemist, 9th wonder, Just blaze etc… Since 2020 I have been producing with Ableton even if shortly returning to FL.
I hardly work with producers right now other than my close collaborators like YODHA and Fear, so I produce myself, as I did back then when I went to record at Jack The Smoker studio. Now for the most part I produce everything by myself, to give the right feeling to my lyrics
Top 5 producers and rappers you dream of collaborating with?
Roc Marciano both as a producer and as a rapper. Daringer, Alchemist, Just Blaze, Rza, Q-Tip, Method Man, Conway The Machine, Stove God Cooks, Prodigy & Havoc, surely if I had to choose I would choose them
We have already talked about your mixtape approach.. Do you think you will focus, sooner or later, on making a full-length album?
In an album as I see it, there would be too many contents to be included and a logical thread should be followed and as I see my path, I have not yet lived a good part of life experiences to be able to make a real album. Life must be lived at 360 ° to be able to best tell a set of things that must be told in the pieces of a real album, if God wills, in a few years maybe I will come out with a real album.
What are you working on now?
This summer I won’t release anything! Pizza Connection 2 was supposed to come out but I have to do it all over again. I will release a mixtape of mixed music, remixes, unreleased and freestyle music on SoundCloud named B.BLOCK CINEMA.
From September I will start releasing projects again, in the pipeline there is the project with TEYO, a producer of Primo Profit and Manteca crew, then I have an EP with Tosses in the works, the album with YODHA in progress, and the project with KENNEDY PARABELLUM practically finished and to be mixed.
The project with Kennedy is the work I’m giving the most importance to, as one of my biggest dreams was to work with him on something.
Having now a wife and kids is my number one priority, stuff will come out much slower than before, but it will all come out between 2022 and 2023.