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Central Islip, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE | AFTRA

Central Islip, NY | INDIE | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Hip Hop R&B




"Eclectic Emcee Centri Talks Indie Success, Military Discharge"

Praverb would be proud: it was through Twitter that I 'met' and connected with New York Hip Hop artist (and Praverb fan) Centri (@Centri), having caught wind of his unique backstory. We then linked in person and, together, created the critically acclaimed song that tells the story behind my 2014 for-charity global Hip Hop album, World View. Later, he would co-star in the video for my song "Throw Away The Key", playing a victim of racial profiling and police brutality at the hands of the NYPD. It'd been a while since Centri and I talked, and his musical output in 2015 has been somewhat slight, so I checked back in to make sure he was still on his grind. He not only agreed to be interviewed, he sent me an unreleased verse he created in honor of Praverb after hearing of his passing. After listening, and getting chills, I talked to Centri about his upbringing, his style of music, his advice for other independent artists, and what it means to be dishonorably discharged from the military.



1. Hometown:
Central Islip, New York
2. Current Residence:
Bronx, NY
3. First Release:
Article 15: The Rebel Knowledge Story (11/11/11)
4. Crew Affiliation:
The Lenzmen
5. Favorite Song Featuring Centri:
"Everything (I'm Winning)"; "Baldo Banton Theme Song"; "Dedication"
6. Favorite Album Not Featuring Centri:
Atliens by Outkast
7. Favorite Artist:
Andre 3000
8. Favorite Book:
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
9. Favorite Film:
Zeitgeist (Series); Hidden Colors (Series); Oldboy
10. Future Plans:
To continue to balance music with life as efficiently as possible

A Dozen Questions

1. I got chills. Thank you for that. A great tribute, and one of my favorite verses I've heard from you, actually. So, before we get into your music and your background, tell me about your relationship with Praverb. Were you ever able to meet in person? How did you first connect?
Word, I appreciate that. I first met Praverb when I dropped my Rise of a Veteran mixtape. He complimented me on a few tracks and pointed me to his music. The first thing I checked from him was Professional Hobbyist, which to me was the most honest piece of Hip Hop I had heard in a long time -- and it fit well with his brand as an artist. From there we exchanged numbers, and we spoke a couple of times on the phone and through text. I was actually going to meet him when I was in DC doing some music, since he was in Virginia at the time, but it just never happened.
2. Do you have any stories, anecdotes or examples you can share to further illustrate what he did on your behalf?
Praverb motivated me. He shared so much reading content for independent artists, which I would check out regularly. A lot of it reinforced what my instincts would say and would just validate and confirm my way of thinking as an indie artist; some of it added structure to the things I wanted to do but didn’t know how. In particular, he referred me to one book that was highly valuable: Small Is the New Big.
3. What will it mean to be featured on his site, now, after his passing?
The site meant a great deal to me before his passing and means just as much now. Praverb.net, in and of itself, has been monumental as a brand. The pivotal post was his list of the Hip Hop blogs that accept music submissions. Just to do the research, and then to actually share your findings with the world: that is the complete opposite of what the typical, selfish independent artist would do. Praverb put the culture before his own music, which in turn made great music more visible.
4. What do you think Praverb would say to you today, if her were still alive?
I honestly don’t know. I may have flipped my entire approach for future projects based off what he shared on social media. I know I supported him whenever I had the opportunity and it was the first time I deeply felt the passing of someone I met over social media. Whether Praverb connected with you on Twitter or in person, the relationship was equally organic.
5. Well said. Yeah, it's crazy what social media can do now. How else has social media, the Internet, etc., played a role in your development as an artist, or in your ability to further your career through online connections?
The Internet has impacted my role as an artist tremendously. As artists get older, it becomes more and more difficult to run around and be everywhere like we did back in the day, when we had fewer responsibilities. It's even been a bit more difficult to write, due to limited time. Many days, I've recorded verses on the way to my 9-to-5. Social networking has allowed me to reach out to people globally, not just for extending my fan base but to network with other artists and producers. It's kept me looped in to current trends; and helped me to accentuate my sounds with those of artists from other regions. It's like the world of music is at your fingertips.
On the flip side, though, Internet access and the ease of recording and releasing music today has drowned out a lot of talented artists who have not kept up with the digital trends -- and the quality in Hip Hop has suffered because the market is so over saturated. Plus, artists are still struggling with what to release for free and what not to release for free, and what the concrete business model is with free releases so you can get that investment back. Only a few artists are successfully pursuing that business model, and we're all competing with them.

6. How important are content and message, rhyme SKILL versus flow? Beat and chorus? How do you determine if a song is worth an actual download and re-listen? And do you take any of these things into account when creating your own music?
I think the beat is probably the most important thing. Picking a beat that's different, unique, but also ahead of its time and captures the emotion of what you are trying to say is not easy to do. It's hindered some of the best rappers’ careers.
The message is very important, but it’s not as important as the other elements, in my opinion. As we have all seen in recent times, the wrong message can still sound good to the masses and can easily influence those who don’t know how to filter out the negativity. It should be important, but the most important thing to me is to get the people to want to listen to the record, and then convey the message once you have their attention. I think flow is more important than lyrical skill, only because you can reach a larger audience with the flow than with skill. There are tons of artists who are super sick, lyrically, but can’t keep the average or even above-average listener’s attention for more than half a song. Once you've gotten someone to push play when they see your name, your next objective is to get them to keep listening, and your final objective for that song is it get them to want to listen to it again.
As far as what I consider worth downloading, I actually download any and everything. Most rappers I know would shame me if they heard what’s in my mp3 player. But as a true artist you should listen to everything. How can you call yourself an MC if you’ve only listened to a select set of rappers and never listen to the artist that you say sucks but is blowing up? There is a reason they have 100,000 spins and you don't. Producers do it. They dig through records all weekend, and I’m sure they are not fans of all those genres. What makes a rapper so special that he doesn't have to do the leg work? For me, it’s part of the job description. There is actually a thrill in listening to 100 songs and liking even 30% of the records.
And yes, I incorporate all the above in my music. I am extremely honest with myself. If I like a song that is, say, a Trap Rap type of song, I ask myself 100 times a day, "Why do I like this song?" Eventually I figure it out and I add that particular piece to my arsenal. It could be the hook, or even as granular as the tone on the hook. It keeps me inspired, and it also allows me to stay flexible.
7. That makes sense, given how eclectic your sound is. How would you describe the style of music you create? To which other artists might fans relate you?
As difficult as it is to describe my sound, I would say my sound is like the guilty pleasure of a listener's personal music catalog. It's like the show on television no one else knows that you watch religiously and, for the life of you, you can’t figure out why. My style has no range and no limits. It's gutter, real and fearless, but at the same time highly digestible.
When real Hip Hop was dope, but the genre ventured off somewhere into the current sounds, that real Hip Hop was harvested in my lab and cultivated. I keep the core very pure in my sound, and my style is extremely bitter -- very disrespectful, in order to break you down and build you back up for not acknowledging it all this time: the voice and the attitude of what Hip Hop should be.
Lastly, I am skill-less when it comes to sounding the same on more than one track. I listen to a beat and the beat guides the sound my flow adds. I cannot get into a mind frame to put consistency of style to more than one song for the sake of consistency itself. It would be at the cost of losing a song that could be optimized to sound 10 times better if I let the rhythm of the track lead. I mentioned to a highly regarded rap friend of mine that he keeps the same flow on every record while I have no consistency in my style, and he said, "That is your style: not having a style." I thought that was profound and it's always stuck with me.

8. What about your personal life? Growing up in NY, your experience in the military -- how do these elements play into your creative expression?
Growing up in New York definitely played a huge part in my foundation as a rap artist. I grew up in Central Islip, NY, and in my high school you got more respect the better, wittier, and more lyrical you were at rhyming. It honestly didn’t matter if you were a class clown, or a hood, or a quit nerd kid. if word got around that you could spit, people wanted to hear it. We were thirsty for music growing up. Keith Murray was our standard, and he set the tone for a lot of up-and-coming artists from our neighborhood. At least 15 to 20 of us would stay up late listening to WKCR and bring in tapes of what they recorded during the radio show. Aside from dressing fly, getting girls, and just being a knucklehead, music was the one thing that made us relevant. I learned so much from that era in Hip Hop, and the things I learned technically built the core that makes me who I am today as an MC.
My military life also absolutely played a huge role in how I express myself creatively. I was kicked out of the military three days before I was supposed to naturally leave, due to some higher influential authorities who executed whatever military justice they could apply to kick me out early. At the time, I had done three years and 361 days, and being kicked out allowed them to revoke my college money -- and, from the list of things the recruiter promised me, that was the only thing that was actually real.
Eventually, with the help of other factions of the government, I got everything overturned six months after I left the military. In those six months I learned some vital lessons about myself that I honestly can’t express in words. I was young and I had never known people could go through such lengths to ruin your life. I also found a lot of other soldiers who were kicked out of the military for minor infractions, and the stigma is affecting their ability to find employment. And, when I say a minor infraction, it is often something that at a civilian job wouldn't even get you a warning. For example, if you take a sudden leave of absence from your job because your family member is sick, you may get fired, but I am sure potential new employers would understand your situation. If the same thing happens in the service, you could be deemed AWOL and registered as a deserter of the military. Most people find this out when it’s already too late.
My first album, Article 15: The Rebel Knowledge Story, was spawned from my and others' experiences in the military. I didn’t want to be selfish and talk about myself the entire album, especially when I wanted to convey such an important message. My goal was to give a voice to those soldiers who I met in those six months who may not have had their discharge overturned like I did. I believe only five to 10 percent of people who get discharged this way are able to get it overturned. I could go on,but my album captures that angst.

9. Damn. You gave me so much, but I guess I asked for it... You hinted at making music helping you deal with your "angst" -- is that why you do this? Does rapping justify itself from a financial perspective, or are there other reasons for what you do?
Honestly, it's not because of angst, but I have to admit that music does help channel your anger. I'm really not that angry of a person, because being angry and worried doesn't help me physically. I actually had health issues as a youngster because I was extremely angry and was also pretty anxious.
That being said, a lot of my music is anger, or angst. I find that it's the best way to connect with the listeners and let them know that you've been in their shoes. To me, that's the most important part of writing: to connect with the listener.
As far as why I do this... I think the main reason is because I always hear a sound that I feel needs to be heard in Hip Hop. I listen to tons of music and I always feel that there's a lane that needs to be tackled. And I'm the only person that can create that sound that I want to hear. It's like I do it for the fan in me. I need dope Hip Hop to get me through my day. It's the only constant, and I cant have it let me down.
When I was young, and I'm talking 11 to 12 years old, I was an extremely good writer. All the heads would always want me to rhyme, battle, or just want to put me on. The problem is, everybody was broke and nobody knew how to help anybody else. A large part of me feels that I be had to become successful outside of rap in order to fund my music career. The game's changed so drastically that doing it for money may not even be worth the stress. So, now that I'm much more financially set, I rhyme to take advantage of the missed opportunities I had when I was a kid.
10. Thats cool. Living a dream. So how do you pay the bills? And how do you find time for music amidst work and family?
However I can, my friend. Writing verses for features, song writing, hook writing, etc. If I write a verse for a feature or entire song, I can guarantee you it's going to be well worth your money. I also have some tech skills that I barter, but other than it's a 9-to-5 or whatever way I can to make a dollar.
As for finding time, it's definitely much more difficult to create music as you get older. One thing I do is record my verses on a tape recorder throughout my day, week or month. Some of my illest verses were written with that method.

Centri with Hot 97 and ESPN Radio's Peter Rosenberg (L) and Peter's assistant Hip Hop Mike (R) at SXSW
11. So what would be your advice to a rapper just starting out and wanting to remain independent?
First, define your version of success. I feel like the definition of success in rap is skewed for a lot of independent artists. We all know it’s the dollar bill at the end of the day, but how long is that dollar going to be around and how long will you be able to sustain the lifestyle? For example, I met a doctor who was making well into the six figures. But when he broke it down, when you add in student loans and the amount of time he was in school, we kind of evened out. It’s not about the present value of your dollar, it’s about the future value. At the end of the day, success is setting a realistic goal, reaching it, and setting another one. If you can do that at will, then it doesn't matter whether you’re on MTV or in a coffee shop doing shows for 10 years straight. As long as you set goals and met them, you've been successful. You don't have to own a Ferrari or Margielas to be a successful.
Second, be open minded. I know rappers my age who have stopped listening to current Hip Hop and are so lost they don’t know where to start. I’m not saying to be influenced by everything that comes out, but keep your ear to the life cycle of the music you claim as a profession.
Third, never stop developing your song-writing skills. You have to still write killer verses, but still make it digestible for new fans to understand it and pass the message. It's not as easy as it sounds. If you think it's easy, it's probably going to come off as fake and it'll sound like you're trying to write a song when you're not about that life.
12. Slim Jesus? About that life... Anyway, If you weren't rapping, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a military lawyer. - Awkword - Praverb.net

"Centri Interview"

Centri Interview
I2G chilled with Centri for an exclusive interview. We discuss his new single and I2G favorite, Boric Acid, his upcoming album and much more so check it out.
I2G is here with Centri how’s it going?
It going great man. Thanks for asking and thanks for interviewing me as well.
Tell me a little bit about how you got your start in music and who are some of your musical influences out there coming up.
I’ve been writing for a while but I had entered a poetry contest in 6th grade and placed 6th in the county. Also my dad is a writer so it’s always been in my nature. I just started to seriously write in my early 20’s, and that’s when I started perfecting my skills.
It’s not really one person who influenced me but I would say different songs have influenced my style and how I approach writing. I think the Outkast album ATLiens was a major impact because it showed me how to write about realistic topics in an abstract way and still make people care and relate to what you’re saying. Back then that was an Achilles heel for me. Also I grew up in Central Islip and I remember seeing Keith Murray battling at parties and his confidence and style on the mic definitely opened my eyes to how you have to carry yourself in front of an audience when you commanding a crowd. He has a track called Dangezone that is a put together in way that to this day I can’t figure out how came up with some of those concepts.
That song made me want to achieve that same impact when I write. Basically, where people would say “How the hell did you think of that” and that song always stuck with me. A lot of early Nas tracks prior to him dropping Illmatic as well as some earlier Kool G Rap songs really help me to break out of my comfort zone as far as how descriptive you can get when it come to writing in detail. Only Built for Cuban Links tuned me into to being specific when writing to paint a vivid picture. So many songs…I mean I just remember the moment I heard them and pretty much what I learned from these records growing up.

You have your new single entitled Boric Acid, tell me a little bit about the single and how it came together for you.
Yeah man and I really appreciate the support you guys gave it and everyone out there who has been pushing it and listening. It was one of my favorite songs on the album and the one that I thought would be a great follow up to all my other releases off the album since the other had features. That actually was a beat that my Lenzmen comrade Dynamics Plus had from like back in the day. Plus is one of the illest producers and I’m not being biased. He made so many sick beats from back in the day and he still makes sick beats but that one stuck to me.
It’s just one of those tracks that’s equipped with everything you need to judge me as an artist straight up. Its Undeniable…It’s got lyrics, a dope beat, a strong hook, and it’s perfect for whatever you doing. That song fits any mood or moment. I mean don’t listen to it while you’re doing yoga or no shit like that..but as you give it a good listen, it’ll grown on you and your going to want to listen to it again. All in all it’s a banger!

Now this will be on your upcoming album entitled Headless Nobody, how did you come up with the title and what are listeners in store for once they check out the project?
The title “Headless Nobody” basically represents the artists who are in my opinion under, underground. To me they are the majority,the most talented, the hungriest, and the ones who receive the least if any recognition. That’s the cloth I’m cut from as an artist. Artist like myself believe that if we master the art then we will standout but those are all old rules and the games has been rigged for a while now. It’s the MCs who are constantly being looked past but are not invisible. Just looked past like we are invisible. Looked past like we have No head, and nobody. That’s how the title came about.
Do you have any videos set to drop from the album?
I don’t want to say yes until it is complete you know…I don’t want to count my chickens but I have a video almost 90% done and I am looking for a location for another video at the moment but the concept is laid out already.
What’s some singles or albums that you are currently playing that you are feeling at the moment?
Hmm recently not many singles but the Buckshot and P. Money’s album is tough, that Jeru the Damaja’s album titled “The Hammer” is real dope and that John Robinson and PVD’s album is like a 2014 classic right now. The homie Dokta Strange’s EP is in my mp3 player heavy as well and my people’s Awkword’s Wold View bonus album is in rotation as well. Before that I was stick on that Alchemist and Evidence album “Lord Steppington”. Honestly though I’ve more been focused on mixing my album and listening to it like 100 times over to make sure everything is adequate.
Do you have any upcoming shows or tour dates?
I’m not planning any shows at the moment. I have put a lot of focus on recording but the summer is approaching so it is quite possible.
What is your website information?
My website is www.centrimusic.com and my other links are www.soundcloud/.com/centriwww.facebook.com/truecentrifans

Appreciate your time, any last words?
Just be on the lookout for my next single A&R produced by NEORE. It’s going to flush out any doubts if any you have as my talents as an artist and will increase my credibility as being a highly diversified and versatile songwriter….Trust me. Also right now pre-order my up incoming album titled the Headless Nobody at my Bandcamp (slated for release July 16th) feat. Skyzoo, Sha Stimuli, Akir, Blaq Poet, Awkword others (http://centri.bandcamp.com/album/headless-nobody) . Also check out my M.O.M.M #MusicOnMyMind EP on I-tunes (http://centri.bandcamp.com/album/m-o-m-m-extended-play) as well and my free mix-tape Rise of a veteran on my Bandcamp. Other than that…stay focused. - .illuminati2g.com

"Centri Headless Nobody Album Review"

Centri :: Headless Nobody :: MondoTunes
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
[Headless Nobody] Centri (pronounced sentry) is an ex-military veteran who gets the best endorsement possible from an unnamed UK radio deejay only two tracks into the "Headless Nobody" album, introducing the track "Powder Keg" before the pianos and drums kick in:

"If people hear the song and quit rappin', I will fully understand. This is not a song about the money, the cars, the Grammy Awards, the thirty-two million YouTube hits - and the luxurious side of being a rapper. This is real - dealing with real people in real situations, and most importantly real talent as well."

Centri proceeds to spit an untempo flow over a Dig Dug beat about how "no matter how talented people say that you are, they don't owe you one percent/and when you're living with your moms, you're feeling kind of odd/cause your clothes are outdated, got a dead end job." The deejay wasn't kidding - this is the reality of being an independent hip-hop artist without the reputation of Jay Z, the tits of Nicki Minaj, or the devoted fanbase of Tyler, the Creator. "Too many emcees and not enough fans/too much talent, little money in my hands." This should serve as fair warning for anybody who has dreams of making it big as an rapper.

The good news is that Centri isn't letting the bleak prospects of success stop him from trying anyway - and he's trying some things that his peers aren't. The NEOREV produced "A&R" sounds like a super crunchy dubstep track, but he's purposefully flowing even slower and more deliberately over the energetic backdrop. The contrast is appealing. "We Write Killas" with Dokta Strange and Earthadox is equally odd - it would be at home in a rail-shooter with zombies leaping out into your face. Skyzoo cameos on "RhymeGlue" - a Dynamics Plus production that sounds like somebody whacking the side of a wooden instrument and letting it echo to make the beat, accented by occasional Eastern melodies that flit away as quickly as they float on. "We don't need no hook" is a contradiction since it comes on the chorus but you'll forgive the hubris.

Not every experiment is an unqualified success. The slow and plodding "That's Why I Rap Like This" was a poor showcase for guest star Blaq Poet let alone Centri himself. "r2s" is okay musically but Centri gets a little TOO hype, and it sounds like he started sucking helium before he stepped in the booth to record. The missteps are the exceptions though - the soulful Willie Green laced "Let Me Live" featuring Shae Doll is par for the course.

Centri is a new commodity to me but he's one that shows he's taken his time serving our country and transitioned to a post-combat musical career successfully. Even though he admits it's not paying that well given "my last ten shows (were) free and all they gave me was props" I don't think he should get down about his prospects. Given time and more quality music with producers like Akir, Dig Dug and Plus he may just find he's not so far behind the eight ball after all.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: September 9, 2014
source: www.RapReviews.com - Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Centri - "No Screwdrivers" (Video)"

Centri — a military vet — releases his first release of 2016 since dropping off his album Headless Nobody. The Long Island rapper personifies the voice of man in self inflicted isolation, who's on the edge and finally gets the opportunity to speak his mind, hoping that someone on the planet can relate to what he's been internalizing. - http://2dopeboyz.com/

"Centri – ‘Headless Nobody’ (Album Stream)"

Today, Centri releases his latest album Headless Nobody. With an honest voice and solid production, the album features appearances from Skyzoo, Sha Stimuli, Blaq Poet, The Lenzmen and more. Keep reading to check the tracklist and new joints.

01.) Tony Robbins (Produced by Pitus)
02.) M.O.M.M. (feat. Sha Stimuli, Akir & Dokta Strange) (Produced by P.R.O.)
03.) Powder Keg (Produced by Dig Dug)
04.) A&R (Produced by NEOREV)
05.) Boric Acid [Interlude] (Cuts by Fred Ones)
06.) Boric Acid (Produced by Dynamics Plus)
07.) r2s (Produced by 5th Sense)
08.) That’s Why I Rap Like This (feat. Supastar Straps & Blaq Poet) (Produced by Nickle Plated)
09.) We Write Killas (feat. Dokta Strange & Earthadox)
10.) RhymeGlue (feat. Skyzoo) (Produced by Dynamics Plus)
11.) Gutter Slums (Produced by Akir)
12.) Let Me Live (feat. Shea Doll) (Produced by Willie Green)
13.) Rot The Body (Produced by Dynamics Plus)
14.) Becoming (Produced by Dynamics Plus)
15.) Chronicles (feat. Awkword & HipHop_Mike) (Produced by Dynamics Plus) - RapperDelite.com


Still working on that hot first release.



After returning home from the military Centri built up a name for himself in underground hip hop circles joining the abstract crew, The Lenzmen who released a string of highly conceptual and futuristic albums through the last decade as well as debuting on The Persecution of Hip Hop compilation album in 1998. Performing through the NY tri-state area Centri racked up an impressive array of live performances alongside such artists as Vast Aire, Large Professor, Illa Ghee, Rustee Juxx, J- Live, Aesop Rock,Grafh and NY Oil. From there he established himself as a solo artist with noted producer Nasa, of Uncommon Records imprint. He was featured on several comps and singles through that label and since then has appeared on tracks with Just-Ice, Dox Boogie, Masai Bey, and Planet Asia. He is also featured on Awkword album all for charity album “World View’ on a song titled “Dedication” which was a tribute to Hezues R who founded the charity Guns 4 Cameras and a comrade of the streets named Sincere. Both Hezues R and Sincere were shot 22 times, survived and changed there life for the better.
Recently Centri released the military-inspired LP Article 15: The Rebel Knowledge Story. He also dropped the Rise of a Veteran mixtape in 2012 and the M.O.M.M.(#MusicOnMyMind) EP in 2013, and  Headless Nobody LP in 2014, with features from the likes of Skyzoo, Blaq Poet, Sha Stimuli, Akir and AWKWORD and production from Akir, Willie Green, Dynamics Plus, Dig Dug, Nickle Plated, P.R.O., Big Earth, and others…