London is alive. Not since the days of Dizzee Rascal has there been this level of interest in the music coming out of the British urban underground. 2016 saw releases from Stormzy, Skepta, Giggs and Section Boyz and is quickly turning into the year of the Brits. One rapper trying to take advantage of this interest is Cee Major, a battle rapper from East London. The unsigned 23 year old has teamed up with producers Phocus Beats and Infamous to make a mixtape to announce his return to rap after a brief hiatus.
The album is sonically solid. The production on this mixtape is impressive, from the electronically vibrant “Icon” and “It’s Over” to the bare piano on “Running Through”, to the use of orchestration on “A Poets Outlook”; it’s pristine, it’s clean, the live elements really add to the feel of the tape as well. While the production may stand out, it is the verses where this album feels most modern.
It’s rare to find a rapper that can mix so many elements and so many references from the modern world so easily and so freely. It doesn’t feels forced at any point, even with thrown in football references, a name-drop for Jeremy Corbyn and Gotham City. Cee Major’s brutal honesty at times is quite refreshing. It adds another dimension to his album, as it helped us feel relate to his sense of pain when the going gets tough. You can hear on the song “A Poets Outlook” his lack of confidence and sadness as he repeats “I hate being happy” and this is quite startling and worrying to hear. This, and many other examples, brings out the true Cee Major and allows the listener to delve into his psyche.
Overall, this is quite an impressive mixtape. He has set the standard high for the next time around as 10,000 Hours will be quite difficult to top. The length of the tape is an issue however, as at 13 songs it becomes difficult to concentrate and it feels as though the album drags towards the end. There’s things to improve but at 23 years of age, he most certainly has time and talent on his side.