You’re on the journey of self-discovery. Along the way, you have delved deep and uncovered character traits that either did not exist or you did not think possible. You’ve come a long way. With each step, you edge closer to the destination of determination that has guided you thus far. There is no turning back. As empowerment begins to loom on the not so distant horizon, you find that you have reached a crossroad. Do you chase the carrot down the familiar yet unrewarding rabbit hole? Or do you stay true to your compass of heart? This week, I introduce a man that chose to remain firmly on course.
Meet Cee Gordon, the 27 year old producer and DJ that came up during South Manchester’s Grime ‘youth-club’ era. For the uninitiated, the aforementioned ‘youth-club’ era was from early to mid 2000’s wherein each area in South Manchester had their ‘home-turf’ where young DJ’s and MC’s came to hone their craft. Though the MC’s were held in high esteem (those that were good anyway), you would be mistaken in believing the producers and DJ’s weren’t the true source of power. Realising this, he sought to capitalise. “From way back, I was producin’ Grime”, he recollects. “I was givin’ out instrumentals for DJ’s to play and no one was playin’ them. So I was like, I need to learn how to DJ so I can play them myself”.
Under the tutelage of DJ’s such as Layza (a Manny legend in his own right), Cee recalls how he got into the game. “When I first started learnin’ how to DJ, it was the last year of school – so like 16 goin’ on 17”, he continues. “It was whenever I could get on decks. I would go on at like parties and youth-clubs just to try and practice. I used to just stand next to Layza and watch how it’s done”. Being a forward thinker, as Grime started taking a relative dip, he opted to branch out into genres such as House and RnB with a purpose in mind:
I wanted to play in the best clubs in Manchester – I always said that to myself.
Forward a few years to 21/22. Though he was “club ready”, the opportunity to play in the City Centre was yet to present itself. But that changed soon enough. “Do you remember your first bookin’?”, I pressed. He lit up. “It was through Silva“, another Manny legend. “I used to message him all the time, then one fine day, my man messaged me and said yo, it’s time – come do a warm up set!”. By this stage, he’s lost in remembrance and animation. “I used to borrow Silva’s decks a lot to practice at home so we already knew I could do it. He was runnin’ an event at HD so my set must have been about an hour”. This was the turning point. He had been promoted from parties and youth-clubs to the main stage. He had arrived.
From the success of that night, he was approached by an elder he held in high esteem to join a DJ collective with a shared purpose: to be the best at what they do. The elder: Stretch. The collective: Team Shellinz. “What was lucky about that night was when I got home, I got a message from Stretch sayin’ yo you smashed it”. Still a student of the game, he enrolled and joined the eclectic roster that comprised of: Stretch (Mixture), Silva (Old School Garage), X-fade (Old School), Doctor C (Dancehall), and Drizz, whom he played New RnB/Hip Hop and House alongside. “We played everywhere”, he exclaims with pride. But, like an adept student, he yearned for more.
After two years, on amicable terms, he parted ways with Shellinz. Like a cub that has gained sustenance, guidance and wisdom from their parent, he decided it was time to test what he had learned. “We had different visions”, he reminisces. “I had a set goal of where I wanted my career to be. I wanted to play in the best clubs in Manchester – I always said that to myself. Because they were a lot older than me, they had already played in town, at this point, I was hungry for it”. And I commend him. To lead, first one must follow in the paths of those whom they respect. Pay attention and study intently. But to become a man in your own right, you must be willing to leave the safety net and test the knowledge you have gained. It was time to venture out alone.
This game’s about relationships.
“How did you find the solo game initially?”, I probed. “It was like fallin’ on your ass and gettin’ up – you gotta find ya feet again”, he replies in a somber moment of reflection. “You’re targetin’ a whole different crowd now. You’re doin’ business with a different selection of people. You’ve gotta start networkin'”, he affirms. The young cub, having learnt from some of the best in the game was not to be easily deterred. Treating nights out like reconnaissance, he started asking the right questions. “Who’s runnin’ these nights?” and “who owns this club?” became part of his lexicon. When asked how does a DJ secure a position he answered: “in the DJ world, your reputation precedes you. It’s always a referral”. Through DJ Miller, he started doing the occasional Saturdays at Sugar Buddha, whilst juggling Entourage Saturdays until the venue closed. Word of mouth began to spread about the young cub. Over the next few years, he secured bookings and residency ranging from: Factory (Mondays), Tiger Tiger (Tuesdays), Lola Lo (Thursdays), LIV and Milton Club, now China White (Fridays), the now defunct Suede (Saturdays), to his current Saturday residency at Panacea.
With only a few months into 2019, the reputation that has been hard-earned has granted him the ability to put a few distinctive marks on his calendar. Already supporting Ramz on February 24th at Sheffield’s O2 Academy, he’s also been booked to spin riddim for Russ at the same venue on May 5th, and M Huncho on May 21st, 24th and 27th at Liverpool’s O2 Academy, Cambridge Junction 1 and Leeds O2 Academy respectively. Intrigued, again, I probe by simply asking: “how?”. “It was through a promoter that I’ve kept the link with from a while ago – this was goin’ back to about 2014/15. He booked me to support Bobby Valentino at Academy. Since then we kept the link”, he explained. “This game’s about relationships – you have to keep relationships”. By keeping a mutually beneficial relationship, he elaborates stating the promoter got in touch stating as he’s grown, he wished for Cee to be a part of what he was building. “Plain and simple nobody does anythin’ for nothin’ in a sense where if you’re negotiatin’ a deal, what can I do for you and what can you do for me and then we go forwards and we help each other in the future. That’s how it’s supposed to work”.
This summer shall see what he defines as his best booking to date. And again, this is courtesy of nurturing mutually beneficial relationships. Playing on the main stage, he will be supporting Manny’s very own, Just Banco, at Party in the Park – an incredible achievement. “I knew Banco before he was Banco“, he attests. “We used to rave together – we used to do actin’. He told me he was gonna do music. He said my ting was gonna be different. When he showed me his tunes, I thought they were wavy so I started runnin’ them in the clubs. When he started getting booked, he told me to come and play”. In short, mutually beneficial.
Change the target. Once you change that, the money will come.
There’s structure in having goals. It allows you to channel your energy in order to follow your compass of heart. Citing EZ, Calvin Harris and Dr Dre as inspirations due to their “lengthy careers” and more importantly, their achievements and influence, he is on the cusp of success. He has a genuine passion for music. “I enjoy seein’ people have a good time and being the reason they had a good night”, he assures me. The “transitional phase” he’s currently in means he has been putting more emphasis into the production aspect of his game. Keeping a few cards close to his chest, he cautiously reveals multiple projects being released this year in which he has production credit.
In life, he has a motto which he stands by: “each one, teach one”. In essence, it is a human right to share knowledge gained. That’s how we improve. “You can always teach someone somethin’. You learn somethin’ new everyday. If I’ve taught you somethin’ you didn’t know yesterday, then you will teach someone else and in turn the message will carry on”.
It’s gonna be a dope summer.