CeeGramz, A.K.A. Michael Carballo, hails from Camden in New Jersey. After being inspired by rap legends Tupac and the Wu Tang Clan, he started rapping and producing beats at the age of only eight. Unfortunately, he got involved with street life as he grew older and was caught selling drugs when sixteen, but this scare from a detective changed the course of his life. After enrolling in the Army and enduring two tours of Iraq, he decided music was his true calling and was honourably discharged.
He then hooked up with his cousin Husk The Great, then they joined forces with Rha Sun, who signed them to his BlakGlobe label. Since then, CeeGramz has been hard at work in the studio, working on his new mixtape Burn Before Listening. He has also bee. Recording his debut album On God which will feature R & B singer Ne-Yo, Ty Dolla $ign, Aaron Kane and Husk The Great, amongst others.
This latest track, Kick Rocks, immediately grabs your attention with a simple but effective beat that consists of a pounding kick drum and hand clap. It combines with a powerful synth riff, joined by ominous samples of gunshots in the introduction. CeeGramz then lays down the first verse, with a direct and arresting rapping style.
Lyrically, the track is a message to ‘haters’ that they better “kick rocks…down to your socks…”, meaning they better be careful how they tread or there will be consequences (“I’m the bartender, you don’t want these rounds…” and “Leave you burning, caught in the flames, gasoline flow fuelled by propane…..” he warns, menacingly). As you can tell from these lines, he has a stylish turn of phrase and can come up with killer rhymes.
It leads straight into the main hook which has an immediate impact, using a layered vocal sound and a voice an octave deeper that adds to the intimidating tone. “We go hard, have no fear…we’re the truth and we’re so sincere…better tell the hater this right here….” he chants, before ramming home the title hook which lodges in the listener’s memory instantly, the secret to having a hit.
The other verses carry on the same message with some great lines that show his sense of humour: “I’ll spell it out, in case you get lost…I’ll hit you with a nine iron, I ain’t talkin’ about golf….”. These are details that the real fans will love, but most will be drawn in by the chorus which gets repeated after each verse of which there are several in a nearly five minute track. A shorter version for radio might be an idea.
Overall, this is a powerful piece of modern hip-hop that packs a real punch, with an anthemic and instantly memorable chorus hook which makes it perfect to be released as a single. The production is slick and cutting edge, with the synths and vocal effects giving plenty of ear candy that keeps the listener coming back for more. With a distinctive rapping style and overall sound, CeeGramz is most definitely one to watch in the near future, and this could become a huge track with enough exposure.
Verdict: 8.7 out of 10