We had the good fortune of connecting with Cee Nario and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cee, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
The biggest lesson in business has been the importance of building and nurturing relationships. It goes way deeper than just who you know or who knows you, and it takes time. At my first couple jobs, I was young and had more of a quick-hustle mentality. I used charm, humor, persistence and being clever to get as much out of each opportunity as possible, especially because you may never see this person again (or someone else will get to them first). Moving this way definitely worked in the short term, I was having fun and making money being a smooth criminal (LOL). Through the years, however, while working for others as well as in my own business, I learned that each opportunity to meet someone new was more about getting to know them and them getting to know you than it was about making some quick sale. When I started to expect nothing, be sincere, ask questions and remain interested in people’s stories is when I started to grow and experience success. Ultimately, it was necessary for me to strike a healthy balance between my determined, aggressive, persuasive side and my calmer, patient, grateful and loving self. And I’m definitely happier and seeing more success because of it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a deeply passionate performer and songwriter with a “west coast” swagger and Latino flavor, yet I pride myself on making music with universal appeal My belief is that as individuals around the world, we all have vastly different life experiences, yet we all long for a lot of the same things: including our desire or need to be seen, felt, and heard–to feel love. The overall themes you’ll hear in my music revolve around love, gratitude, and appreciating all the beautiful lessons that life has to offer. And even when tackling difficult topics or ones that can easily be negative, it’s important to me that my music still make you move, dance, and feel good inside. Primarily an R&B and hip-hop artist, you can definitely hear waves of funk, rock, salsa, and pop. The music I create is in the same vein as Anderson .Paak, Bruno Mars, Frankie J & SiR, yet my influences range from Michael Jackson to the Notorious B.I.G., the Gap Band, Sublime, and Vicente Fernandez. The music has one overall sound, but I’m happy that people who’ve enjoyed my music point out that my versatility and eclectic sound is something they appreciate. In the beginning, this was something difficult to tackle because of how spread out my musical tastes were. I remember that when I first started and had an opportunity to perform for and write/record a song for a very well-known artist, the main criticism that stuck with me is that I hadn’t found my voice yet. I’d been singing all my life and had already been recording professionally for 5 years, had record deals, etc., but I didn’t understand until years later, that he was right. I was able to realize this once i HAD found my voice. I became unashamedly and completely ME. And although today you can still hear my influences oozing out of the music, I was more comfortable with the pen, behind the mic, and on stage than ever before. The lessons have been plentiful and I love that each day I push myself to learn something new and share it with the world: whether it’s about songwriting, recording, performing, music marketing, life lessons, or whatever. I’d love the world to know that when I make music, it’s as much for them as it is for me and that the joy it brings me to see people in the crowds singing my lyrics back to me, moving and hugging one another, is unrivaled. I want them to know that each day I push myself to be a better artist, performer, and most importantly, person and that I hope that I continue to make music that inspires.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That’s a tough one because there’s the cities I’ve lived in around the San Gabriel Valley and then of course, my overall larger home within the Los Angeles area… so we’ll stick to the more local spots for this one. I’d of course have to show them the block I grew up on in La Puente and take them to get a burrito at Boca del Rio, some chili cheese fries at Chris’s Burgers, or have a beer and a pie at $3.99 pizza–maybe take them to check out the first In-N-Out ever. I’d proudly show them the Boys and Girls Club in Baldwin Park that kept me out of trouble after school and the dojo where I got my butt kicked but learned self control & patience. I’d take them to the storage place in West Covina that used to be Skate Junction and shed a tear together. reminiscing about all the good times. Then cruise up to one of the many hills on the outskirts of the city that overlook a lot of the SGV and share a peace pipe. I feel like my answer sounds so basic, but these places hold a dear place in my heart and I’d be sharing the funny stories about all the things that happened. Finally, I’d invite them to have a few drinks while I showed them around downtown Pomona so we could hit all the old spots, even though they’ve all got new names and new looks, while we share old nightlife war stories. There’s obviously so many tourist spots around L.A., but if it’s my best friend, these are definitely a couple of off-the-beaten-path places we’d have to visit first. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s definitely too many to name, it’s definitely been a ride with a lot of people helping along the way. Of course I’ve got to shoutout my family, especially my parents, for supporting me anytime I needed help and my fiancé who stuck by me when times got tough and always being my #1 fan. Then there’s my best friend Joel who’s basically been my rapping tag team partner since we were in high school. We used to sing together, write some of our earliest songs, and rap battle at all the parties we went to. The Antidotes crew for letting me cut my teeth on their first internationally released album and featuring me all over the 2nd LP too. Shoutout my bro Instigate, who produced the Jalapeno Brothers and most of my work today–the musical chemistry together is unmatched. The JB crew for all the hard work we did together for our first TV appearances, media tour and being on the radio together. Noa James & BrickToYaFace for giving me my first shot at performing solo on stage, the Common Ground family for embracing me, Eric Vintage for sharing the stage with me at a very memorable, sold out Blu & Exile show. Shout out to all the media outlets over the years that gave me exposure, to the friends, family, and supporters that drove around everywhere for shows, bought merch and CDs, and hyped us on social media. Thank you to my bro Waqqas for being a homie and accountability partner here in the music game, and putting me on to you guys too! I know for a fact I’ve missed people, so my apologies, but as I mentioned… there’s just too many to name!
R. Ray Robinson, Jasmin Lopez, David Flores