Exclusives 2 March 2022
Author: Joe Simpson

GRM Exclusive: Central Cee Catapults Himself To The Top Of The Game With ’23’

2 March 2022

It’s fair to say that Central Cee is one of the hottest properties in music right now. While his rise to stardom did not happen overnight, his rapid growth as an artist has enabled him to tap in to exactly what his audience want, causing his tracks to post impressive, eye catching numbers whenever they drop. His last release, Wild West, cemented the West London rapper’s position in the rap game, reaching number two in the album charts with no features. This is no mean feat, but so far Central Cee has made it look like light work. The same can be said for 23, his latest project that feels as if it will only catapult the rapper to further success. With clever production backing Cench’s signature playful lyrics and blunt wordplay, Cee has found a formula that mobilises his success and suits his style down to a tee.

One of Central Cee’s greatest talents is his great beat selection. Cench knows a catchy beat when he hears one, and this is one of the main reasons why his music translates to such a large audience. The production on 23 offers variation, ranging from the saxophone heavy drill instrumental on “Retail Therapy” to the more introspective, guitar led production on “Cold Shoulder”. 

One of the standout moments across the tape however comes on “Terminal 5”, as the West London man samples Finn Foxell’s “Steady”, to create an airy, brass-led instrumental that complements Central perfectly. Young Chenks and Central Cee have undeniable chemistry as an artist/producer partnership, and for all the conversations about Cee being a TikTok rapper, he has managed to keep his signature sound without diluting it for the masses.

Lyrically, there has been no drop off for Central Cee since Wild West, with this release one of his best in terms of bars to date. There is always a worry that releasing two full length projects in the space of a year will cause a lack of depth in terms of lyricism, but the rapper allows us into his rise to fame across his lyrics, whilst also foreshadowing his success by remembering the foundations that got him to this point. 

On the opener, “Khabib”, Cee raps, ‘Always tryna get the party turnt, That’s how I got nicked at Wireless, I told little bro when I stepped outta cells, “It’s calm, one day I’ll headline it’. “Lil’ Bro” also demonstrates Cench’s ability for storytelling, and offers one of the highlights of the tape, much like the track “Ruby” on his last project. 

One again, the rapper has decided against the release of a feature heavy project. This decision should be commended, as the easiest way to cash in on streaming revenue is to collaborate with other artists in order to gain listeners from their following.

However, Central has now proved twice that he can carry his own projects without the necessity for features. The one track however with multiple artists is “Eurovision”, featuring Drill rappers from France, Italy, and Spain. This track is demonstrative of just how far the genre of drill is stretching and evolving, and Central Cee has a huge part to play in that, owing to his viral successes over the past two years.

Central Cee now has great power, and with it, great responsibility. As one UK Drill’s largest exports, the West London rapper is achieving mainstream success both in the US and UK at a level we haven’t seen a whole lot from UK rappers.

With this success however, it is important to not fall into the trap of diluting the sound or lyrical content that achieved this recognition in the first place. 23 achieves this through elite production and smart lyricism, as Cench has navigated his second full length project with great precision. Central Cee is now within touching distance of the precipice of the UK rap game, and it feels as if it is only a matter of time before the rapper reaches the top.