Central Cee was officially the biggest UK breakthrough star of 2021.
The rap star’s mixtape Wild West finished the year at No.46 overall, the highest for a UK debut.
According to the Official Charts Company, the mixtape reached gold status in the past week with sales to date of 101,053 (90% from streams). That makes it the first UK debut of last year to go gold.
Central Cee also had a couple of singles in the overall Top 100 of 2021: Commitment Issues at No.85 and Obsessed With You at No.87.
The UK rapper’s streaming prowess is just as evident in 2022. Obsessed With You, which samples PinkPantheress, is No.50 in the singles chart after 17 weeks (426,122 sales to date).
Central Cee also had a new entry at No.21 with Retail Therapy (16,571 sales), while his Daily Duppy freestyle was at No.52 (25,654 sales to date). Central Cee's freestyle for GRM Daily peaked at No.35 - the highest-charting Daily Duppy to date.
Under OCC rules, primary artists are limited to three chart entries. But credits as a featured artist are permitted in addition to those three appearances, so Central Cee has been able to secure a fourth singles chart entry with D-Block Europe’s Overseas at No.7 (201,959 sales to date).
Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, execs from ADA (Central Cee’s services label services partner) have discussed his streaming impact. The campaign was masterminded in partnership with the rapper’s manager Bello. Central Cee signed last year with Warner Chappell as his publisher.
“The UK sales result for Wild West is a real achievement, but last year was all about the global build for Cench,” said ADA UK general manager Brooke Salisbury. “Cench and Bello are two of the hardest working entrepreneurs you could find, and the music is quality over quantity. So it’s less that the music releases this year were prolific and more that the work rate was prolific”.
ADA UK managing director Howard Corner told Music Week that the Warner Music services division has helped UK rap stars achieve their commercial potential. ADA has previously worked with Stormzy as well as Bugzy Malone and the rap supergroup featuring Chip, Skepta and Young Adz from D-Block Europe.
“We have a deep understanding and a particular way of working with independent artists, either as direct signings or in conjunction with our distributed label partners,” said Corner. “It’s very lean in and dynamic. Alongside that, you’ve had the maturation of streaming services, social marketing and the growth of rap as a cultural force that enabled rap and distribution to become a potent match. So by carefully picking partners who are a great fit for the way we work, we’ve been fortunate to have many successes over the last few years.”
ADA is now hard at work setting up the next mixtape from Central Cee, which could surpass the No.2 peak of his debut.
“We’re already rolling with the 2022 plan – Cench’s next mixtape 23 will be released on February 25,” said Corner.