In December 2010, Fake Four CEO/indie folk/rap hero Ceschi Ramos was trapped in a sting operation in New Haven, Connecticut and is currently serving 18 months in a state penitentiary. The headlines read, “Police Seize 100 lbs of pot wrapped up as Christmas gifts,” and it was a pseudo-viral fluff piece written by an embedded reporter to bolster New Haven’s image as “3rd most dangerous city in America”. With guns drawn on his mother, brother and grandfather, New Haven police refused to allow him lawyer access and after two hours of verbal and physical abuse towards Ceschi and his family (even repeatedly kicking his 11 lb dog Birdman), they finally forced a confession from him after citing that the police would arrest his entire family, including his 98 year old grandfather with a heart condition who had recently suffered the loss of his wife of 70 years, and seize their home if he did not acquiesce to a coached confession. This forced confession proved to be the only piece of hard evidence they had to prosecute Ramos with as they found nothing illegal in the house, and no marijuana from the “cooperating witness” was ever brought into the house or opened from the sealed boxes that remained in the man’s rented SUV.
This is not just a story of the prison industrial complex taking another prisoner. It is a story of what type of tactics are being used by law enforcement in today’s current sociopolitical climate to coerce a citizen of this country into giving up their freedom in order to save their own family from harm and so allow the police force to have a quick scapegoat to hang their hat on for the news. This is about law enforcement seeking IMMEDIATE results and a subsequent news story without considering any of the ethical and legal issues that any branch of justice should be looking at before engaging in such activities as breaking into a home, guns drawn, and threatening public humiliation from an embedded reporter on scene (who shortly after quit reporting to become the spokesperson for a neighboring police department) if an immediate resolution is not made without any legal counsel. This decision made by New Haven law enforcement has now created ripples not just locally, but on a worldwide scale.
Ramos’ label Fake Four, Inc. is home to many thriving indie artists: Astronautalis, Blue Sky Black Death, Grayskul, Busdriver, Dark Time Sunshine and Sister Crayon, to name a few of the most established acts on the label. Fake Four is considered by many to be the last of the great indie hip-hop labels and came into being during a turbulent time in the music industry when cd sales were dropping and interest in left-of-center, non-swag-centric hip-hop had long since waned from the public eye. Beyond the business and art considerations, Ramos is saintlike to many as he gave a helping hand to all friends who were in need. From advice on issues putting out a record to guesting on a track, he has always been a true friend to everyone. As a performer, whether he was playing for 20 or 2,000, Ramos always gave it his all and has earned a true cult following worldwide as a result of his intimate and dynamic live performances.
While this case has been bubbling over the past few years, Ramos has kept news of it out of the public eye, not wanting to seem to profit from his own misfortune. During the drawn out process of his legal case Ramos racked up over $50,000 in legal debt. Running out of funds and not wanting to get a 5-7 year sentence, which his lawyers advised him that he had an 80-90% chance of winning in court but could end up costing upwards of 100k along with the advice of “if it were my kid I would not risk it”, he finally accepted a plea deal of an 18 month sentence. This sentencing has now put his greatest art project, Fake Four, Inc., in peril. The artists behind the music and the small staff of Fake Four are looking to the public to help fund this year’s releases through a successful Indiegogo campaign. Although the minimum funding was reached within 24 hours, that was just to keep the roof from caving in. We hope to reach even higher so that when Ceschi gets out of jail, Fake Four will not only still be in existence, but thriving.
– Sole, Jeep Halo & David Ramos