Welcome to the South Easy
From a distance, for a few exceedingly wavy moments it seemed from a distance that Ceezlin was, in a sense, a dick-head. Not an actual prick, just someone who wore a hat decorated with penises. Felt penises, possibly, though from a distance it was hard to tell. Up close stood next to the crowd barrier I still couldn’t be sure, but it was probably some type of nylon and the odd protrusions weren’t dicks, they were birthday candles.
It wasn’t until much later I realised how apt that was as a metaphor for how my perception of Ceezlin himself has changed over the last few months. Except in reverse. From a distance he seems like a reasonable kind of guy. Ordinary, even. This is the kind of guy who sings his hooks in a slightly kooky, kind of endearing way even though he can’t quite sing. It’s almost twee! Sometimes he tries to act hard, and I’m sure he could have me in a fight any day (looking at Rum Committee his mates could have my mates, too) but I’m not fooled. Up close he’s…well, less a dick-head more a giant strutting peacock. A right cocky bastard.
Which is, let’s be clear, unequivocally a good thing. Being a cocky bastard is an essential qualification for going on stage. Especially in the context I was watching Ceezlin. This was at the Boom Bap Festival in Peterborough a few weekends back, an extraordinary three day feast of British rap music. He was onstage with Rum Committee, except Rag’N’Bone man hadn’t made it so up front it was just him and three ageing white rapper lads on the crest of blokehood in identikit UK hip-hop uniform. Sorry, guys, that may sound harsh but you know it’s true. And nothing shameful! But when you’ve got this guy up front with you you’ve got to accept he’s going to stand out. He’s Diana Ross. You’re his Supremes. He’s got red plastic shades, you haven’t. He waves plastic firearms, you’ve only got mics. You wear monochrome t-shirts with no costume changes, his leopard-print tee is revealed a few songs in after he’s shed his oversized red and black jacket (and hoodie, and that hat, of course).
To make the contrast even more stark, two of the white guys basically stood rooted to the spot. Gizmo should be given credit here for his presentation but he couldn’t really compete with the way Ceezlin was working that stage. Don’t get it twisted, they all put in good performances. Kong and Bukioe seemed like they were enjoying themselves. But Ceezlin looked at home, like he lives to perform, like he was feeding off the attention. Climbing in with the audience. Pacing the stage, working up his energy, an honest-to-god striptease building up to his sprinting across the stage, mic in one hand, other hand raised high spinning leopard-print tee round windmill style.
Tonight should be interesting. It’s the official launch party for Ceezlin’s new EP Snakes N Ladderz. I’m not a fan of the lead track ‘Good Time’ but it’s early days yet. He might yet capture his undeniable talent and attitude into some great records, who knows? In the meantime any excuse to catch him live should be welcomed.
Shmooze is at Madame Geisha’s on East Street, starting at 9pm. Entry is free before 11pm, £3 after if you’re on the guest list and £4 if you’re not. Closing time is 3am. The Snakes N Ladderz EP should be available from midday on SBTV’s Bandcamp page.