“When trends change you’ve got to adapt or you’ll get left behind” – In Conversation With Central Cee

Harvey Marwood

By Harvey Marwood

Harvey Marwood

5 May 2023

Hailing from West London, Central Cee is an artist who has climbed to the very top of the international scene over the last couple of years. With more than 25 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the meteoric career elevation of the 24-year-old has been game-changing not only for himself but the UK industry as a whole.

Central Cee excelled and flourished in 2022 – potentially becoming one of the most consistent artists the UK has ever seen. Corresponding with the TikTok trend, Cench has utilised social media to the maximum and is wired differently when it comes to making hits so effortlessly. Remaining fully independent as well where humanly possible, Cee has not only mastered his sound, he has mastered creative and marketing intelligence – an inspirational and motivating figure within the UK industry. Some of his top hits charting last year such as ‘Obsessed With You’, ‘Loading’ and ‘Doja’ have now accumulated more than 800 million streams on Spotify alone. 

Towards the latter end of last year, Central Cee embarked on his sold-out World Tour, ending with a huge finale at Alexandra Palace to ten and a half thousand people; a show filmed by Amazon Music and +44, we had a quick chat with him before the performance to discuss the event and the rapper’s extreme growth over the past couple of years…

You’re performing a huge sold-out show at Alexandra Palace next week which really showcases the growth you’ve foreseen over the past few years – how much does performing mean to you and what are your initial feelings leading up to your events?

I feel blessed every day, but today I just feel blessed in a simple way. Today I’m more reflective and trying to acknowledge what’s going on a bit more. Every other day is cool and that but I’m always in tunnel vision. Today I’m trying to take it in a bit more because I know it’s a big day.

You teamed up with Amazon Music to live stream your headline show at Alexandra Palace – when you touch the stage do you ever take a minute to reflect on the amount of people you’re performing to, or do you just focus on your performance for the whole set? 

I find it hard to ever think about how many people are here, that people have paid to be there, that they even like me. I don’t think I even understand it yet. I don’t try and understand it, I just try to go and do my thing.

Have you had the time to reflect on the growth you have foreseen over the past few years? If so, what does that reflection look like? 

I have had the time to. If you want to do something you can make time to do anything but I haven’t made the time. I guess it’s something I’m not really prioritising. I’m in the middle of it. It would be nice to be able to reflect but there are pros and cons – it’s a gift and a curse to my mental state. I can’t really reflect or acknowledge my actual doings.

In terms of DSP releases, ‘Over You’ which you dropped in 2017 is a completely different sound to that of your recent discography. What has changed for you over the past 5 years?

Nothing really. The same attitude. It’s the same person. I’m the same person more or less but the sounds changed and my sound will continue to change as I change and as the music game changes – when trends change you’ve got to adapt or you’ll get left behind.

You’re undoubtedly one of the biggest rappers to have come out of the UK – with this title comes great responsibility. Do you feel pressure and if so how does this impact you creatively? 

Nah. I don’t think about that. I don’t know about any of that.

Do you hold yourself accountable for self-motivated success, or are there any standout artists or people within your life that have heavily influenced your journey to date? Has the source of that motivation changed now you’ve established yourself as such a force?

Nobody’s heavily influenced me. Everybody influences me in more or less the same way. Even unexpected people. I might sit in a place where people are doing everything wrong and that influences me to do better / to do the opposite of what they’re doing. I get influenced by everybody equally, I think.

How important to you is the pathway of staying independent in this heavily lucrative industry? 

It’s not important. I’m independent no matter what. Regardless of whether I sign to a label, I’m still going to be an independent person. I understand you might need people in your team depending on what your goals are, and what you wanna do. I’m not against working as a team. When you’re signed to a label it’s not like you just become dependent on someone, I would still do the same shit.

You’re still only 24 years old, are there any downsides to the crazy industry lifestyle that you live? 

Not that I care about. There were a lot of downsides to the life I used to live and I can’t really petty the minor ones I’ve got now. I definitely won’t complain about them. I haven’t acknowledged them.

You’ve broken boundaries and records consistently since becoming one of the International heavyweights in rap quite some time ago – what does the future look like for you? 

I guess I have come far. I don’t know what the future looks like. I can’t predict it. I hope it’s positive.

It’s undeniable that Central Cee is one of the biggest rappers of our generation, and is definitely going to be up there with the greats in years to come. Watch his sold-out Alexandra Palace headline show in association with Amazon Music and +44 above…