The difference between local rapper Ceeb Dread in person and on stage is the difference between night and day.
In person, Dread has a shy graciousness that catches you off-guard. He is soft-spoken, polite, and seems to genuinely appreciate the friends and fans who support him.
On stage, you see a man possessed by the moment.
He raps, mic in hand, and his body moves to the rhythm of the music. He has the air of confidence and determination that comes with being able to roll with the hardest of punches. He’s in his element.
“I feel joyful when playing for people,” says Dread. “It doesn’t have to be in front of a lot, I’m just thankful that I can spit out whatever it is that God has given me to spit out.”
But it has been a long and hard road for Dread.
Growing up in Montreal, he began rapping after being influenced by groups like the Sugarhill Gang.
“It was just something that had to be done,” says Dread reflecting on his beginnings in hip-hop.
“It was the music I really liked when it first came out so it stuck with me. And over time it became an emotional outlet and now a way to pay the bills.”
Dread left his family to live on his own at the age of 18. He says that, at the time, money was tight and it was time for him to fend for himself.
“I had to meet life on life’s terms.”
When Dread eventually arrived in the Fredericton, he had no money and no place to live.
His weekly escape would come in the form the hip-hop night hosted at the Capital Complex. “I used to go to those religiously,” he says.
In the final weeks before the event was scheduled to be discontinued, Dread met Michael Doherty and Mat Fitzgerald.
The two hit it off and Ceeb was soon brought in as a member of their Reggae band, Dub Antenna.
“It was wonderful, it was all love because we came together so well and gelled so well,” says Dread about his time with the group.
“If they wouldn’t have done that for me there’s a good chance I might be homeless still or in jail or doing something else.”
Dread’s new album Still Down launched two weekends ago at the Capital and is getting air time as far as New York City, but it was through hardship that the disc was made.
Most of the songs on Still Down were written by Ceeb while taking care of his late wife of seven years who was suffering from heart problems.
“A lot of her is in it,” he says when talking about the album. “I wrote these tunes while she was alive so it has a little and a lot to do with her life.”
It was after she passed away that Dread knew it was time to get back into the studio and put what he was feeling out into the world.
The difficulties and obstacles in Ceeb Dread’s life have been many, but by breaking through them he has gained strength he has today.
“In order for someone to have character they had to have had something to overcome. You fall down but stand up again.”
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