Who Is Central Cee? A Rapper Whose Hit Doja You've Heard Hundreds Of Times
Get to know the story of the rapper who broke the internet with the megahit Doja and was the only Briton to come under the wing of Travis Scott.
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"How can I be homophobic? My bi**h is gay." If you're hearing this phrase for the first time, you probably haven't had access to Instagram or Tiktok for the past six months. Its author is a young star directly from London, who is conquering not only British rap but also the global scene with his unique expression.
Central Cee is 24 years old and is often cheeky in his songs, but he also stands out with his witty and unique lines in rap with a punchy cadence. Get to know the story of the rapper, thanks to whom UK drill has literally experienced its golden age in recent years.
Before rap, he worked in a shoe store
Central Cee, real name Oakley Neil H T Caesar-Su, was born on June 4, 1998 in the West London neighborhood of Shepherd's Bush, where he grew up. His mother is Irish and his father is from South American Guyana, but he has Ecuadorian origins. Cee's great-grandfather was even a member of the Arawaks - a South American indigenous community.
It was his father's background that influenced Cee's musical taste. As he said in an interview with Complex, his father introduced him to several genres such as rap, reggae, dancehall and house since childhood. "We didn't meet often, so whenever I was with him, I tried to soak up anything from him, including the music he played," the rapper recalls.
True British grime, which is specific to the local rap scene, was shown to him only by his friends. He immediately fell in love with it, according to his own words. He started writing his first songs when he was 14 years old. Before his music career, he had only one legitimate job, and that was in a shoe store.
"I stayed there for about three weeks until I realized what my real salary was," Central Cee laughs in an interview with Vice. His official debut came in 2015 on the song Ain't On Nuttin Remix under the pseudonym Central C. However, it was only a featuring and he only started releasing his own solo songs over time, also very sporadically.
His debut project was called 17 and it was an EP he released in 2017. However, he was still more of a local artist waiting for his time. He had yet to break through. Until then, he perfected his expression and experimented with sounds from trap to jazz to his later characteristic drill.
He doesn't want to be pigeonholed as just a drill rapper
We don't even need to talk about the fact that drill currently dominates the rap scene. So it's no surprise that the combination of the talented Central Cee and this popular trap genre based on fat 808s, straightforward lyrics and darkness quickly caught on in the mainstream.
Drill originated in Chicago's South Side at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. At that time, it was mainly popularized by names such as Chief Keef, Young Chop and Lil Durk. Later, however, this genre moved from Chicago to the territory of the British Isles, primarily to the vicinity of Brixton in South London.
The British drill became an established business over the years. It has its roots in the original Chicago drill from 2010, London road rap and British grime. It's also special in that it adds a bit of fun and craziness to this seemingly dark sound. It was created around 2015 and its first representatives were Brixton Grizzy, M Dargg and Digga D, who, by the way, went to the same school as Cee.
It was the drill that eventually became his domain, although he revealed in an interview with Complex that he doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a drill rapper. "I want to make my own unique creation. It's not intentional, but I definitely don't like labels or people's expectations. My work reflects diverse influences that I present in my own way," he said.
Some of his compositions are full of jazz, while others are influenced by reggae or trap. "I know who I am. I am confident in myself. I am not stubborn, but I am very careful not to follow the crowd. If I have to do something, I will do it my way," he concluded.
Breakthrough years of the pandemic
His career began to gain momentum only during the pandemic. The key singles were Day in the Life and Loading, which are among the most successful in his repertoire so far. Together, their video clips on Youtube have almost 200 million views. His music began to reach the world.
The songs Loading and Commitment Issues also made it to the list of the top 20 singles in Great Britain as part of the prestigious UK Singles Chart. Another major milestone came in March 2021 when Cee released his debut mixtape Wild West. It even reached second place in the UK Albums Chart and first place in the UK R&B Albums Chart.
The mixtape was proof that Central Cee has a great gift, according to the Guardian review. Wild West is the British drill par excellence: sliding 808 bass lines and cascading flows with straightforward storytelling from the street. Gradually, the rapper began to appear on the feats of other world names such as Ed Sheeran or Luciano.
In September 2021, he released another hit, Obsessed With You, which reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and also became the lead single from his second mixtape 23, which debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. The portal The Line of Best Fit very aptly commented on it as an album composed of fast music for the generation of TikTok and streaming.
Megahit Doja broke the internet
Central Cee's biggest hit came this year, specifically on July 21. After several previews and teasings on his social networks or concerts, which we even witnessed ourselves at the biggest rap festival Rolling Loud, where we enjoyed Cee live, a megahit called Doja saw the light of day.
He literally broke the internet and there are very few Instagram or Tiktok users in the world who have not heard his iconic verse How can I be homophobic? My bi**h is gay while browsing videos, stories or reels.
The track, which became his most successful of his entire career, consists of a sample of the iconic song Let Me Blow Ya Mind by Eve and Gwen Stefani from 2001. The title of Cee's single refers to the American rapper Doja Cat.
The song became perhaps the most viral on Tiktok in the last six months. The clip for the song was even directed by the "god" of rap videos Cole Bennett himself with his production company Lyrical Lemonade.
Travis Scott is said to have taken him under his wing as the only Briton
In September, it was even speculated that Travis Scott had taken him under his wing, and Central signed a contract with his American label Cactus Jack, under which, in addition to Travis, performers such as Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, SoFaygo and Chase B are also signed.
It was sparked by Travis' Instagram post with a captioned video in which Central says he's from where the Jack Boys (Cactus Jack label members) are. Travis Scott added a cactus emoticon, which is characteristic of his label.
Travis Scott hinting that Central Cee has signed to Cactus Jack 🌵 pic.twitter.com/QzYaLibglA— TRAVIS SCOTT FAN PAGE (@RodeoTheAlbum) September 7, 2022
Since then, there has been no official statement in which those involved would confirm or deny this information, but if it were true, Cee would thus become the first and so far the only Brit on the prestigious Cactus Jack label.
All this, combined with the popularity of the song Doja, proves the huge influence of Central Cee, as well as the fact that he is currently among the hottest "newbies" on the world stage and also the most prominent face of contemporary British rap. He managed to bring the specific sound of West London not only within the British archipelago, but to the rap fans all over the world.
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