HotNewHipHop takes a look at some of the rappers doing it big for the U.K. grime scene.
When most people think of rap and hip-hop, they often only reference American artists. They’re given most of the credit when it comes to claiming the genre as their own and being responsible for its evolution, in some ways, rightly so, after all, New York was hip-hop's birthing place.
However, English rappers have their own claim to fame in the rap/hip-hop scene. They are even responsible for developing their own subgenre called grime, created in Bow, London in the early 2000s. It is recognized as a mixture that consists primarily of U.K. garage, drum and bass, hip-hop and dancehall, although other styles of music, such as soca, jungle, electro, R&B, rap and dub may be incorporated as well. Some of the founders of this genre include Wiley (who is dubbed the Godfather of Grime), Dizzee Rascal.
Not all the rappers on this list are considered grime artists, although it’s safe to assume they have been influenced by the genre. The U.K. has also birthed a few hardcore political rappers, like Plan B and Lowkey. Plan B’s protest song “ill Manors” speaks on the English riots from 2011. His song is meant to conjure up questions of why these riots happened in the first place and to generate discussion surrounding the state of young people and their involvement in crime. He also directed a film of the same name that features eight characters’ scenarios as they struggle with violence while trying to survive on the streets of London.
Lowkey is also a huge political activist, of English and Iraqi descent, who has used music as an outlet to expose his views of Pro-Palestinian beliefs and opposition of Zionism. On occasion he has also criticized Barack Obama for augmenting George Bush’s foreign policy.
Not all of the rappers on this list strive to release work that’s so controversial, even though it is seemingly a common trend in rap/hip-hop music. A good majority of them release popular jams, attracting a vast audience, which then categorizes them as mainstream, especially if their popularity allows them to cross over into the states. A few English artists that have spiked interest in the U.S. include M.I.A. and Tinie Tempah, but maybe after reading this list you will find there's more U.K. artists worth giving a listen.