Hip-hop music is in an odd place these days. The most popular artists seem to be making a mockery of the art and very few pay homage to the origins of it.
This makes it all the more refreshing when you stumble upon an artist who is paying their dues and making their efforts heard in their music. Cee-Won X is such an artist. Not one to oversaturate the masses, Cee’s releases are strategically planned. His latest is a long time coming.
To create meaningful art, you have to understand the art form you’re trying to create in and understand yourself. Cee-Won X shows his expertise in both subjects on his new effort, a 4-track EP titled “Silence.”
Cee is vividly self-aware and it translates on records like “Replay,” where he reflects on the ups and downs of the old days, overcoming struggles, and how the world around him has changed greatly over time, making him long for the old days again, a feeling many of us can relate to.
His respect for the art of hip-hop comes through heavy on “Mics Up,” a cipher-style track where Cee comes in swinging, rhyming about rocking Adidas and dissing wannabes, and on, “Whatever It Takes,” a boom-bap track that’s balanced with strong, pleading vocals, that borrow from Cee-Won’s affinity for pop-punk music.
The title track, “Silence,” combines Cee’s self-awareness and love for the art of hip-hop, paying homage to those who came before him. Appropriately so, since this is the strongest lyrical track on the EP.
Drug use is something that’s typically glorified in some of today’s newer music, of all genres. Cee makes it clear on “Whatever It Takes” that he doesn’t use drugs – “I don’t smoke, shoot, pop or snort things, so tell me why they knocking on my front door please.” The song touches on having a friend who abuses drugs and how hard it can be to help them, especially when they keep taking advantage of you, leading you to want to be left alone.
Cee has even designed the project so that you can play it on a loop seamlessly, to represent that “silence is violence, and in order to put an end to something, you have to break the silence,” hence the project’s title – “Silence.” The track is specifically about violence against women and how men need to be better allies.
Cee-Won says of the harmonies on the record, “There was a conscious decision from early on that the vocal harmony arrangements would be mixed in mono. I didn’t like how sometimes my harmonies weren’t sounding the way they were in my head when I wrote them. I realized that panning vocals really changes how the harmonies sound drastically so I felt mixing them in mono would be best. You’re not hearing them in the left or right. It’s all centered in the mix and on songs like “Whatever It Takes” it makes for this wall of harmonies. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
It’s interesting how an artist like Cee-Won X can take this art form of boom-bap style hip-hop, usually used just for fun, and let himself be completely vulnerable on it, producing affecting tracks that are more than just slick rhymes – they’re laced with layers of meaning, to Cee himself and to the listeners.
Cee realizes this too. He says of the cover art: “The painting is even human. A closed mouth with paint dripping from it which perfectly represents someone needing to speak who cannot, on a hand painted cover art over a canvas. The background is busy and chaotic. Everything is too much for the individual. I’m so self conscious about this project but it really is art and human art at that.” The art is very human, indeed, something we as listeners should not take for granted.
Stream “Silence” below and follow Cee-Won X on Twitter.
“Silence” is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.