London’s music scene is greatly known for its emblematic history, talent and most importantly, its versatility. It has become one of the greatest sources for unique artists and staggering culture. We have always been a witness to its influx of styles and art. Every genre seems to have its own glorious moment in the music scene at some point in time, such as the Beatles in the 60s, David Bowie in the 70s, and Wham! in the 80s. Moving on to the 90s, we have the Spice Girls who basically invented the genre, Britpop. In the early 2000’s, we were graced with the iconic, Amy Winehouse and the beloved band, Coldplay. Today, London’s modern music scene continues to grow in range and in aptitude. Among the UK’s rising genres is the prominent style, drill. During the past few years, UK drill has spiraled across the city in popularity, while simultaneously birthing new artists in the process.
Drill is a form of trap music which originally began in the South Side of Chicago in early 2010. Since then, drill became a part of American music after the success of rappers like Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Lil Reese, Pop Smoke and many more. It wasn’t long before UK drill emerged, and the genre was born. Now, at the centre of it all, a new up and coming West London rapper is dominating this style, and his name is Central Cee. This 22-year-old rapper was born in Ladbroke Grove and raised in Shepherd’s Bush. Central Cee, a.k.a. Cench, grew up listening to many cultural sounds as a child. One of his fondest memories included spending time with his father, listening to his old school hip hop. During the little time he spent with him, he was constantly playing music. Naturally, Cench was gravitated towards it, immediately engrossed with the idea.
“The cultural sounds I grew up with was a lot of underground house music, garage. Then a lot of dancehall/reggae. I started listening to rap/grime a few years after. The fact that I grew up listening to different types of music aside from rap gives me a different perspective sonically when I write” says the rapper.
Being exposed to an array of music and cultural history at such an early age ultimately gave Cench an advantage when it came to writing and his overall, sound. He started writing rap songs at the age of 8 years old, recording these songs at 12/13, and then at 18 years old, became inspired by the American trap wave. From there, he continued to improve his skills, while also using music as an outlet for expression.
“It was a way of venting originally. Just getting my point across through music.”
This year, he dropped his debut mixtape, Wild West, which was a result of his hard work and musical influences. The 14-track, no feature project illustrates his struggles in the ends, “I’m sick of the trap and watching my back and praying I don’t go jail/ You know how much blow we sold, it’s about time they let me blow” (Dun Deal), overcoming difficult situations, “Little bro got nicked two times this week/ Freedom’s priceless, not cheap” (Day in the Life) and working towards your goals, “Take that risk and go independent, I just turned down six figures (Pinging (6 Figures)). As a whole, this project proves that Central Cee is not meant to be boxed in one category. Though some tracks are drill, others like “Loading”, “Ruby”, and “Hate It Or Luv It”, exhibit the diverse melodies he was consistently surrounded by such as hip hop, grime, and jazz.
The rapper says Wild West was the outcome of having numerous premeditated songs he wanted to drop altogether. For his next project, he wants to experiment with more sounds creatively and step it up in the production side as well.
“There wasn’t much thought put into the structure of the tape. I had 80% of the tape recorded before I even knew I was going to drop a project. I was just making so much music I thought why don’t we just put it all together. That’s why I’m excited to drop more projects, an album especially. I’ll put a lot more time into the creative process, production wise etc. You’ll hear the difference.”
It has been a year since Central Cee was put on the map after his breakthrough tracks, “Day in The Life”, “Molly”, “Pinging (6 Figures)”, “Loading”, and “Mad About Bars” freestyle secured his spot in the UK rap scene. Recently, “6 For 6” and “Commitment Issues” became two more additions to his developing fame. 2020 was truly a prosperous year for the rapper. He had multiple Top 20 singles, millions of views on YouTube, and currently has more than 4.6 million listeners on Spotify now. Based on his hit singles alone, one can easily conclude that Central Cee has a knack for observant lyricism. His commentary on trap is authentic and engaging to his listeners which is exactly what he wants his music to be. He defines his music as relatable and fitting for whatever emotion one is feeling.
“I’ve got music for whatever mood. For the highs & the lows. If you listen properly and read between the lines, you’ll learn a lot about me. I’m transparent in my music.”
In his track, “Sex Money Drugs”, he raps, “I coulda been laid up with shorty/ Fuck it, the grind more important/ Told her I’m in stu’ all night/ Hold tight, I’ll reply in the morning”. This confirms the rapper’s dedication and loyalty to the grind. He puts his music first and that’s why he has gotten this far. His perseverance and self-belief will only make him better.
Over time, Central Cee plans to evolve and flourish in the music scene. Presently, his artistry often gets categorized and moulded into the drill genre, but the rapper wants to break out of this box. It is an undisputable fact that he brings more than just drill to the table. He knows what he’s capable of and he’s ready to show the world. His alluring vocals, lyrical dexterity, and integrity will lead him on the path to success.
“I see myself evolving as a person already, as I evolve, so will my music.”
On top of wanting to be recognized as a multi-dimensional artist, Central Cee hopes to be acknowledged for making a difference.
“I’d like to be known for making a positive impact. People will always judge my music but what I do outside of that is what I’ll be remembered for.”
It’s short and it’s simple, yet it holds so much meaning, “Live Yours”. This is Central Cee’s famous motto that he wholeheartedly lives by. It is his version of telling fans to be themselves, no matter what. He encourages them to live like you’re the main character of your life. He wants his fans to trust the process and live their movie, despite what the circumstances could be. Life will not always be lavish, but with a positive mindset, anyone can live their life happily.
Sidedoor approves this message and is excited to see what’s next for the young, promising rapper. For now, Central Cee has two goals: drop another tape for this year and work on the album for 2022, both of which we are earnestly looking forward to.