Cape Cod View Magazine
"Beat the Heat"
Chill Out with Cape Bands, Known and New
By Krista Mastroianni
Charles F. Mcelroy Jr., 22, of Sandwich, also known by many as Ceej, takes a similar, but slightly broader, direction when writing and producing his music. Growing up, he was inspired by all types of artists from Tupac Shakur to The Beatles. Ceej, an artist with a passion for hip-hop, is committed to making music that sends a positive message. "If you're using spoken words as your instrument, you have to use it right," he says. His first album, "The Road Less Traveled," features styles of reggae and hip-hop and lyrics promoting peace, distinguishing him from most hip-hop artists and performers. Ceej recorded the album in a small studio in Hyannis with Sam Zimmerman, a Cape Cod local who plays the bass guitar for the reggae group, Shango Axe. All of Ceej's poetic lyrics are backed up by live music, which he says allows him to "feel the music more." Ceej enjoys the atmosphere of the small, local bars because he is able to perform all his original compositions, rather than simply cover songs, and he knows the audience is there to listen and enjoy his music. He is close friends with members of the Shotgun Bandits, and the two groups occasionally perform together and are currently working on songs for Ceej's new album.
Posted: May 19, 2006
Sandwich Musician Aims To Put Town On The Hip-Hop Map
By MATTHEW M. BURKE
In fact, if you were to tell people involved in the global hip-hop or reggae communities that you were a serious artist of either genrecoming from Sandwichthey would likely laugh.
However, the joke might finally be on the naysayers.
Charles F. Ceej McElroy Jr., 21, of Factory Street is recording a new album, called The Road Less Traveled, with Hyannis-based producer and reggae bass player Sam J. Zimmerman, 29, from the Capes resident reggae musicians, Shango Axe. Ceej has several tracks mastered and plans 12 for the album that has no set release date.
It is Mr. Zimmermans first attempt at recording and arranging a hip-hop album on Cape Cod, and Ceejs first experience recording to reggae music as well as dub and dancehall. Thus far, the partnership has been nothing short of magical.
In hip-hop, a bass line is so important, Ceej said. Hes [Mr. Zimmerman] an amazing bass player. Ceej also said that the fact that Mr. Zimmerman is affiliated with so many talented musicians has helped out immensely in the recording of The Road Less Traveled. As musicians pass through to visit Mr. Zimmerman in Studio Z, he asks them to add to Ceejs tracks, wherever their instrument fits or whatever the music calls for. They always oblige.
Walking up the winding wooden steps to Mr. Zimmermans in-house studio, called Studio Z, above Hyanniss Island Merchant on Tuesday night, Ceej heard the title track off his album being played through the loud Studio Z speakers. He looked pleasantly surprised as he walked in to see Roland Junior Wrinch Martin, the Jamaican-born Rasta owner of the Deadzone in South Yarmouth, immersed in Ceejs reggae-influenced song that Mr. Zimmermanhad arranged weeks prior.
Ceejs vocals were muted and Junior Wrinch, the former Jamaican DJ turned Cape storeowner and promoter, smiled as he heard the harmonica with juicy reverb kicking in. He bobbed up and down to the beat and began to sing and rhyme about global politics and the need for positive social change in the world. Mr. Zimmerman clicked the record button and set the levels.
The headphones barely stayed on Junior Wrinchs head over his Jamaican flag-colored hat. He held an empty wineglass between fingers that were decorated with numerous large gold rings. When he was done spitting Jamaican rhymes, Mr. Zimmerman wanted to see what Ceej and the gracious Junior Wrinch would sound like together, so he mixed the two tracks together, and immediately the studio erupted.
Junior Wrinch, Ceej, Mr. Zimmerman, and others started swaying and shouting with hands raised up in the air. They jumped up and down, with Ceej and Junior Wrinch singing their parts as the song played through the speakers. Junior Wrinch and Ceej smiled at Mr. Zimmerman throughout and pounded fists. Below, at the Island Merchant, the roof sounded like it was going to cave in.
Another hit song had been made at Studio Z.
On The Road Less Traveled, the vocals of Ceej and Junior Wrinch eerily complemented each other and fit together perfectly like the pieces of a puzzle. Me tell him, mon, its fantastic mon, by da powers. Member dat, Junior Wrinch said of The Road Less Traveled.
Ceej promised to stop by the reggae and hippie merchandise store, owned by Junior Wrinch and his wife, Patricia Martin, and hand deliver a copy of the track when it had been fully mastered. Junior Wrinch promised to play it in the store and credited Ceej for not swearing in the track. Its very positive, he said. We talking about da same ting.
They promised each other to link up for more tracks in the near future.
Ceej has numerous reasons to be excited these days. He is currently going through a transformation in his personal life, in addition to his professional life. He recently married Jardielle Gomes-Targino, 24, originally from Brazil. She brings something to my life that I never had before, Ceej said. Before I met her, I could say I never believed in true love.
They were married recently in a small ceremony on the beach in East Sandwich. Ceej speaks fluent Portuguese and said that she has opened him up to Brazilian hip-hop artists. He often raps in Portuguese at his live performances to the delight of the Capes large Brazilian community.
Ceej was raised listening to both hip-hop and reggae music. He listened to Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur equally, as well as dozens of other artists as he grew up, attending Sandwich High School and graduating in 2003. His main inspiration is the ocean, and he said that he draws a lot from the beautiful aspects of nature in Sandwich.
Ceej has always written poetry, and he said that hip-hop music is merely knowing how to put poetry to a beat. He progressed to that point at parties and while hanging around with friends when younger, starting to get serious about his abilities several years ago.
He cites Bob Marleys positive message and ability to unite the globes masses as his reasons for listening. Tupac, he said, is a little more difficult to explain. The slain hip-hop icon was intelligent, according Ceej. Tupac lived a violent thug lifestyle, but he said that Tupac was remorseful about it, and also tried to make a positive change in the world, writing songs talking about respecting women and politics. He said for the most part, all of todays hip-hop focuses on money, objectifying women, and violence.
Im different, Ceej said. Im not like the other guys that are out there. For them, its just an ego game. Its all about them. For me, its all about the music. I love hip-hopThe industry right now is just killing hip-hop.
Ceej works six days a week bartending at the Olive Garden in Hyannis and performs one day a week, Sundays, at Kendricks with Sandwichs From the Ground Up. He will perform also on June 10 at the Island Merchant, again with From the Ground Up.
The main message is to try and make something original and to give something positive for the young people to hear, Ceej said. The main point is to make some good positive music and help the youth have something positive to bob their heads to.
He takes pride in his work ethic and being blue collar. He says that he is merely an average dude. He added that he and Mr. Zimmerman are not concerned with making money. This is the reason Ceej is able to spend every Tuesday evening in a high quality studio. Mr. Zimmerman believes in what Ceej is doing and does not leave his wallet bare. Mr. Zimmerman said that some top producers charge $1,000 per day.
Mr. Zimmerman, who was born in Iowa, spent some of his childhood in a Rasta community in Jamaica. Toots Hibbert of the famed reggae group Toots and the Maytals went to the same church and remains close with Mr. Zimmermans mother, even to this day. When his family returned to the states, he lived in North Carolina for a short while, before moving to the Cape to be closer to relatives.
His love affair with music and reggae started when he was a young award-winning stand-up bass player, whose parents constantly exposed him to reggae and the culture. He would garner all-state and all-New England honors for his bass playing, he said.
He continued to hone his skills over the years eventually getting into the production aspect seven years ago. Three years later he was in Shango Axe, a Cape reggae band that plays 75 percent original material.
Toussaint Yeshua, a big name in the reggae scene in Boston performs and records with Shango Axe. He is one of the many talented singers and musicians involved.
Mr. Zimmerman studied the production game under Ronnie Champagne for almost two years. Mr. Champagne recorded the nationally known bands Janes Addiction and Bad Brains before retiring to Dennis. He has also worked with Joel Hamilton, a Cape Cod native who has produced the likes of Ludacris, Beck, and the Fugees while at Studio G in Brooklyn.
I think that CJ has a lot of potential, Mr. Zimmerman said of his new music partner. Weve proven that you can do it on Cape Cod.