From Kettering youth club to official album chart-toppers

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The pair behind the music for the tracks first met at the William Knibb Centre

Friends who met at a Kettering youth club have hit the big time after their collaboration with rising British rap and drill star Central Cee led to a chart-topping album.

Valentino Salvi, aka Young Chencs, and Roddy McAuley, who works as Roddy Beatz, met at a recording studio workshop at the William Knibb Centre about four years ago.

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The two musicians kept in touch with Valentino mentoring Roddy. It led to the pair working on tracks together for Central Cee's 23 mixtape - which stormed to number one in the official UK albums chart this week - and stand out single 'Straight Back to It'.

Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.
Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.

An incredible nine of the 15 tracks on the album were created by Young Chencs - and of the nine Roddy Beatz also worked on two.

Valentino said: "It feels surreal. I'm going to treasure this. Music has always been my passion.

"I was always listening to music at school. It's not about luck, it's about hard work.

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"A lot of people give up. I have been doing this for 11 years. I'm not taking it for granted."

Central CeeCentral Cee
Central Cee

The pair both stress how important the facilities at the William Knibb Centre were to help them progress in their creative endeavours.

They say the centre is underfunded and there's never any certainty or stability over the building, saying it's been stripped back and lost funds and space over the years.

The musicians added that they are proof of how important it is that local authorities invest in youth clubs and creative programmes for young people at venues like the William Knibb Centre.

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Both of them attended St Edward's Primary School, Valentino moving on to Corby Business Academy followed by Kettering Science Academy, with Roddy going to Bishop Stopford School.

Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.
Roddy McAuley aka Roddy Beatz, and Valentino Salvi aka Young Chencs. Credit: Sarah Bingley.

It was at a youth club run by Youth Works in their recording studio that the future chart stars made their first tracks. Valentino developed from being a volunteer to running the sessions that Roddy attended.

Roddy, 19, said: "Valentino has really helped me. He's my mentor. I now have a manager and I'm focusing on my music.

"It's testament to places like the William Knibb."

Valentino said: "Kettering is really important to us. We're a success story. It would be good to have more facilities. The growth of the town is really important."

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The two rising stars visited Youth Works to inspire the young people who use the education service.

Cindy Wrighting, chief executive officer of Youth Works, said: "Centres like this find really good opportunities for young people. We're really proud of them.

"With the right support, environment and facilities they can do it."

Central Cee's rapid rise to commercial success has come with a cult-like following, with the artist rapping over the Kettering duo's tracks.

Reaching number one is a dream come true and Valentino, 25, says he would like to work with acts like Kendrick Lamar and Stormzy in the future.

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