It would have been easy for Central Cee’s latest project, Wild West, to cash in on his viral hits and produce a tape ready for the mainstream. However, as the west London rapper says on the first track, “6 for 6” he has: “put in the work for years for this, this ain’t no coincidence”. Central Cee has produced a fourteen track tape with no features, taking risks lyrically and on production to create tracks which break the mould. The 22 year old is already one of the leading figures in the scene, and if Wild West is anything to go by, he can easily stake a claim for the top spot for many years to come.
“6 for 6”, the first track on the project, brings the listener in with eerie choral vocals brought to the table by producer, Young Chenks, accompanied by a Spanish guitar riff, playing into the Wild West theme with a Western feel to the instrumental. The hi hats and warped bassline which ignite the opening track bring Central Cee to life, effortlessly producing a catchy hook and verses which demonstrate the difficulties of making it out the ends. Cee raps: “fuck school” and “I broke the law, Told little bro gotta’ stay in school, Tellin’ the kids this shit ain’t cool, fuck, I’m so hypocritical”. The rapper is now in a position where his main source of income can be his music, yet his past as a rule breaker is what got him to this position in the first place, demonstrating a conflicted attitude towards his advice to the younger generation.
We see this consciousness crop up again across the album, as can be seen on the final track, “Gangbiz”, where Cee looks at the gentrification of UK drill and the hypocrisy that comes with it. On the hook he raps, “Gangbiz, gangbiz, I got suburban children using our language judging the way that we’re living, outlandish They wanna ban it, they don’t understand it”. Here, the West London protégé brings up an interesting point about drill gaining national and international recognition from mainstream audiences, whilst at the same time facing difficulties with air play and live shows owing to the policing of the sound.
Across the tape there seems to be a desire to leave the trap life in the past, focusing on the new career trajectory brought to Central Cee by his barring ability. On “Xmas Eve”, the rapper states, “I’m tired of this, soon retire my mumzy and then go reside in the sticks…Me and YB’s on a similar ting, eating off minimal risk”. With this attitude of leaving behind his criminal past, Central Cee allows himself to grow as an artist. This is where Wild West breaks stride away from the typical sounds of UK drill as a genre, allowing the rapper to carve out his own lane.
The production across the tape takes inspiration from a variety of different sounds and genres. Central Cee found his love for music through his father’s collection of old school hip hop and classic albums, which we can see on the track “Fraud”, produced by JBMadeIt, using a sample from “Jamming” from Reggae legend Bob Marley. The samples from left field don’t stop there either, as we can see on “Ruby”, produced by Sykes Beats. This track uses the hook from Foreigner’s 1970’s track, “Cold as Ice” as a sample, allowing Cench to flex his storytelling muscles, telling the tales of Ruby and Jack, two people stuck in the cycle of poverty and crime. Cee raps, “Grew in a detrimental place, deteriorating your mental state, It’s all good ’cause we still got faith, Making it work but we still want change”.
We also see the use of brass instrumentation in “Loading”, harking back to jazz influences, while subtle guitar riffs on “Day in the Life”, “Commitment Issues” and “Hate it or Luv it” juxtapose the hard hitting drums. Guitar instrumentation thus punctuates the whole mixtape, giving weight to the title Wild West, as we can see Cench placing himself in the role of ‘outlaw’ in West London.
Wild West therefore sees Central Cee establish himself as one of the hottest artists in the UK right now, expanding out of generic UK drill sounds to create a tape that is revitalising for the UK rap listener. It is also important to point out that there are no features across the tape, demonstrative of the fact that the rapper’s sound has not been watered down, as well as showing confidence in his own ability to carry a track on both verse and hook.
At 22, Cench has produced a tape of impressive quality which has put him in his own lane, and through his bars and songwriting ability, there is no doubt in my mind that the Wild West won’t be the final stop for this rapper, as he has the potential to expand into stardom.
Be sure to have a read of our in-depth interview with Central Cee Right here