Shepherd’s Bush whizz-kid Central Cee, has unleashed his second mixtape 23. The young talent has risen quickly to become a prolific UK artist as he has dominated the charts with various singles. Not too long ago Central Cee was on the charts for 18 weeks, which highlights his current ascendancy as an artist in the UK music scene.
“I don’t say much, but I hear everything that is said
It doesn’t go over my head
Success is the best revenge, no stress, I still ain’t missed, huh“.
Central Cee kicks off 23 with a sturdy introduction, “Khabib”. The Shepherd’s Bush prodigy creates a comparison between himself and UFC fighter Khabib. Khabib is viewed as an achiever and resilient champion who overcame doubts in his career.
Central Cee sees himself in the same light as Khabib, due to his accomplishments in his music career, after hearing hate and uncertainty on his name.
“Straight Back To It“
“Done a graveyard shift last night, woke up today and got straight back to it, took me a L, no problem, I got on my grind and got straight back to it, had to handle a call in the middle of jeetin’, I put down my phone, got straight back to it, they freed my bro got straight back to it, bro bro fresh home got straight back to it”
The song’s message is the most enjoyable element of “Straight Back To It”. Central Cee asserts that it’s important to be on the grind if you want to be up in the world.
The process isn’t easy as you have to make sacrifices and prioritise it over everything. “Straight Back To It” is the motivational track the UK needs to hear after the recent challenges the nation has faced.
“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, If it weren’t for the man before me , I show respect where it’s due. Where would I be, if I never met YB? Giggs, Ghetts, Chip, Skep, Konan, Krept, Kano, Dev, Stormz, Hus, Dave. A couple of names even DBE”.
This lyric from Central Cee is great to hear as he is paying homage to the older generation and those who paved the way for him to have a successful career. Their influence is evident in Central’s discography and he’s grateful for that.
“My bro get a box and step on it, gang made money off rock, Led Zeppelin, one call away from tent and tape, one call and they get to steppin’.”
The producer needs credit for producing this sick, fun-loving instrumental. The beat compliments Central’s flow, which formulates this exuberant, bouncy energy for the song. In terms of lyrics, Central Cee is enjoying his fast-living, which revolves around parties, money, girls and luxuries.
He brags about trapping as it has rewarded him this life. “Retail Therapy” visuals manifest his playful vibe with himself and crew enjoying life around London City. However, this life isn’t all positive as Central indirectly states that it’s a distraction from him dealing with his trauma.
“I’m trying to get money and stay out the way, lowkey but I’m stuck in the public eye, last year I was sat in the pub with white, this year I made more than enough from rhymes”.
“Eurovision” exhibits the high level of creativity Central Cee has as an artist. Central puts together a huge collaboration that includes Rondodasosa, Baby Gang, A2 Anti, Morad, Beny Jr, ASHE 22 & Freeze Corleone.
The song is set with a European tone as some of the features rap in multiple European languages. “Eurovision” has a jumpy vibrancy as their energy bounces off one another.
“They said I was a one hit wonder, I took that shot and followed it through, dont worry about hollerin’ chicks, get rich, they’ll switch and holla at you“
Central Cee is keen to remind us not to focus on the ephemeral attraction of the opposite sex, and instead focus our energies on bettering ourselves financially, and then the rest will follow.
“Not to mention that she complaining, saying I’m laid back and I’m not doin enough, you know you’re moving up in the world when you’re in the same room as Puff.”
Cench once again reminds us how quickly he’s changed his circumstances. In this lyric, he references how he’s now in the same room as Diddy, who of course was formerly known as Puff Daddy.
“Obsessed with you“
“She don’t even like goin’ out, got a new outfit, but nowhere to wear it (alright)
She think that I’m being disloyal, and I’m in the streets with couple of killys
(You ain’t gotta) you ain’t gotta worry ’bout none of these hoes
I’m grown, I’m done with these bitches”.
Well, it’s brilliant to see Central Cee has fixed his problem with commitment. Not too long ago Central Cee had the whole nation rapping their souls out to “Commitment Issues”. Now the prominent rapper has changed his tune by promising faithfulness to his love interest.
“Obsessed with you”, is magnificently packaged with a soothing instrumental and Central’s tender rhythm. Clearly, these romantic songs are Central Cee’s music speciality.
“They saw me and YG doing a mazza, they just cant hack it they threw in the spanner (mechanic), the tool don’t fix no vehicle though, this ones for close protection. Have I got bro that goes without saying, now has he got me thats a stupid question, all good gestures turn into finessing, all losses turn into a lesson.”
One of the hardest tracks on the tape, comes towards the end. “No Pain” features some cold production from Chris Rich and sees Cench rain down a tirade of cold, uncompromising lyrics on the track. The only critique would be that its far too short, a verse or two more would certainly not have gone amiss.
“Look, young boy, everything glitter ain’t gold, for this life I live, the chance is slim to make it rich, slept in bando days on end and it weren’t the way to live, shortcuts where? Take the stairs, no handouts, no taking lifts”.
“Lil Bro” is a phenomenal track from the West London rapper due to Central Cee highlighting the reality of trapping. As you can see from the lyric above, Central withdraws from glamorising the harsh lifestyle as he emphasises the troubles and trauma it will bring. Also, you can feel the pain and regret Central Cee has for embarking on that road and the desperation Cee has to convince his young bro to not follow in his footsteps.
“End of The Beginning“
“I saw a rack, it was love at first sight, me and the Lizzy are soulmates”
“End of The Beginning” is an excellent finish for ’23’. He summarises his whole album in this song rapping about his early living. Having Santan Dave on the keys is the perfect way to close out a serious contender for mixtape of the year.
If you missed out in-depth Chat with Central Cee, be sure to check out a rare interview with the man right here.