Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you have probably witnessed the meteoric rise of grime music on both British and foreign shores. While the grime scene has been riding this new found wave of success, there has been a dark horse on the rise. UK hip hop has been slowly creeping its way in from the background, gaining more prominence through consistent, quality releases and a dedicated fan base.
Despite a significant surge in attention, hip-hop coming out of Britain is not a novel concept. Its timeline spans across three decades, yet it has never quite fulfilled its potential. Our greatest asset is often considered to be Slick Rick, the US born Englishmen who managed to successfully crack America, but even he is somewhat of an anomaly. Perhaps this is the reason that acceptance of British hip-hop has not been far-reaching; all too often artists have focused on mirroring the styles of their American contemporaries, with little widespread success. Modern British acts have distanced themselves from this tactic, creating a refreshing end product that takes pride in its origins.
In some ways hip-hop has been helped by the expansion of grime music. The experimental nature to modern grime has widened the scope of audiences’ listening potential. The honest, gritty appeal of grime applies in the same way that it does to British hip-hop. Listener’s acceptance of contemporary hip-hop from British artists is a natural progression that is well overdue.
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The hardest thing out of Brighton since the birth of the mutant seagull. The young MC was signed to High Focus a couple of years back and with each release he proves exactly why the legendary label picked up him. Wisdom casually bodies everything he goes near with his ferocious flow and skilful rhetoric. His debut album ‘Chaos ’93’ is a masterful example of raw lyricism that is essential listening for all hip hop fans.
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Jesse James Solomon
Earlier this year, Jesse James created a buzz following a feature on Wiki’s latest project ‘Lil’ Me’. Yet it was his humbling, retrospective raps on The Ride Home EP that demanded attention. His dark, spoken word type flow has the ability to absorb you as much as his melodic instrumentals can take hold. For such a small volume of work, Jesse James clearly still has a lot to offer. His latest single, ‘Before Patrick’ is a slick ode to Arsenal commander and Vaseline adoring Patrick Viera.
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Over the last few years Loyle Carner has developed a new breed of eloquent, self-aware hip-hop. The slick talking Londoner caught our attention with his ‘A Little Late EP’ in 2014, a five track mixtape showcasing his laid-back style. His 2015 collaboration with Tom Misch brings together two leading lights of British hip-hop.
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Onoe Caponoe is High Focus’ psychedelic resident, pushing a form of hip hop that is far removed from anything else in circulation. Caponoe has put together a series of sometimes puzzling yet equally intriguing records. The visuals for his single ‘Disappearing Jakob’ offer an intoxicating insight into his musical approach.
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The original scumbag of UK hip-hop. From a glance it may seem that Dirty Dike is trolling the industry, yet he is one of the most colourful lyricists and talented beat makers to have ever graced our shores. His production credits are second to none, having worked across the beefy roster of High Focus MC’s that includes label boss Fliptrix, The Four Owls, Jam Baxter and many more.
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Another feature from the prolific High Focus Records, Ed Scissortongue had amassed a formidable following for his solemn style of rap with equally profound video content. The straight talking Scissortongue links up with Glasgow producer Lamplighter on one of many deep and reflective collaborations between the two.
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Representing Manchester, Black Josh and his LVLZ crew have been killing it over the last couple of years. There’s something appealing about an MC from Manchester, as if their talents have been overlooked until recent times. Now it seems there time has come and Black Josh is at the forefront of the Mancunian march. It seems only appropriate to feature Josh’s banger ‘Paul Scholes.’
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Words: Angus McKeon