Cape Cod-based hip-hop artist and deejay, Ceej McElroy is one of the more prolific musicians to call this area home. He is set to release his seventh full-length album “The New Day” on Friday, June 24. He will be celebrating the release of the album with a live show at the Sandwich Taverna that evening. The free show will feature special guests DJ XP, Gemello, Greedy Irish, Blvck Vynl, and others.
I got a chance to get an early listen. Throughout the album Ceej delivers deft wordplay with clear energetic delivery. One of my favorites is the opening cut “My Time,” a story told from the perspective of a working man dreaming of a luxury vacation and a little peace of mind. The breezy Latin-inspired beat suits the song perfectly.
Another standout for me is “The Band Played On,” which deals with aging and reconciling dreams of youth with the challenges of adulthood. The production here features smooth R&B guitar and piano building up to a defiant outro.
I got a chance to ask Ceej a few questions about the album.
LV: What was the writing process for this album? How did you go about choosing the instrumentals?
CM: I really took my time with these tracks. I revised the hooks and verses many times and really had a lot of fun building the songs. This is my third album working with Robie Rowland and Echo Studios, and him and I have built a really strong bond/friendship over the years. That really carries over into the writing and creative process. When it is fun, and the vibes are good, then the end result shines more. Most of these songs were written over several months. I would select an instrumental from a producer I liked with a vibe I was feeling and then write to the beat. I like to play the beats on loop during my commute to and from work and build the songs in my head and practice in my car.
LV: An album is a big undertaking. In an era that’s very singles-driven, what made you choose this route?
CM: I think that is part nostalgia. As a huge music fan, growing up I always loved buying albums when they would come out and really looked forward to the entire body of work released by my favorite artists: the production, the artwork, the stories. Part of it is how I have always worked. This is my seventh album, and each one has had its own unique theme and overall vibe. I love creating a body of work that all flows together.
LV: Your first official release I see streaming is from 2011. How has your perspective on music and writing changed since then. Or has it?
CM: Streaming, yes. My first official release was in 2005, though. My first three albums were released in the pre-streaming era. Selling the CDs out of my car and backpack, at local record shops, shows et cetera. My perspective on music has changed since the market has completely changed. Trying to keep up with the modern digital and social media platforms while staying true to my roots at the same time. My releases are now all available on all digital streaming platforms worldwide, but I also still press CDs and always still keep a trunk and backpack of them to sell everywhere I go.
LV: I know you do a fair amount of traveling. Any music from your travels that’s inspired you?
CM: Yes, my family and I have always loved to travel. We have been to many places all over the world. I spend a lot of time in northeast Brazil and the music and culture there are so unique and have always given me inspiration. I blend my style of hip-hop with reggae frequently, and my many trips to Jamaica and the time I have spent with the wonderful people of that island have always inspired my music and message as well. Traveling is the best education there is, and meeting new people and experiencing new cultures is something that can connect you on a deeper level to the human family.
LV: Did you do any live performing over the last couple years of COVID? If so, what was that like? If not, how does it feel to be getting ready to perform live again?
CM: I am a registered nurse, so the busy COVID years I was working in the hospital caring for patients, which had a deep impact on me. I was unable to do any performing throughout that period. Music has always been therapeutic for me, and I truly missed it. Coming out of that dark time and getting back to writing, creating and performing has been so good for me. I have performed a couple of times since, and it feels great to be back out there connecting with crowds again.
LV: Can you remember the first concert you attended as a kid and how that made you feel?
CM: I can’t remember the exact first show that I went to, but in high school my friends and I would go to many, many reggae and hip-hop shows. It always felt great to be around so many different walks of life in one room enjoying the same positive energy. Live emceeing and DJing pulled me in from the first show, and I’ve been hooked since.
LV: Who is one artist you’d love to collaborate with?
CM: That’s a good question, and one that I have honestly never thought about. I usually collaborate with the same artists on each of my projects, people I have grown to become close friends with and who I am a huge fan of. This album has Nokside and Greedy Irish on it, two really talented Cape Cod emcees who I have been collaborating with for years. I also have a song on this album with Professor Lyrical, a Boston-based artist whom I have always admired. He is one of the most talented rap artists to come out of Boston and is also a highly respected college math professor and motivational speaker. DJ Decepta is also featured on that track, a crazy talented turntablist.
LV: Do you have a favorite song on this album?
CM: It’s hard to say. I really love each of them in their own special way. The track “The New Day’’ is extra special to me because it is the song that got this entire project rolling. I was dealing with some personal struggles at the time it was written. The title track of the album, the overall theme, is that there are lessons to be learned during challenging times and personal growth as well. How we can always turn a negative into a positive.
Listeners can stream “The New Day” on all major platforms beginning June 24.
“The New Day” album release party will be held on the same evening at 9:30 at the Sandwich Taverna, 290 Route 130 in Forestdale.