UK rappers and MCs are everywhere. The friends who used to wince when I played grime are now in love with Stormzy and I hear Lock Doh played in the main rooms of clubs more than House Every Weekend (trust me, that’s saying something).
But the success of those at the top of their game wouldn’t be possible without MCs tracing grime and UK rap back to its roots.
From skippy grime and heavy baseline to melodic hooks and trap beats, rap and grime is no longer a pigeonholed music genre.
Check out our pick of 10 artists who prove the UK rap and grime scene is so damn exciting…
MIST is your go to for catchy hooks and trap beats produced by Steel Bangelz. Citing his hometown of Birmingham as his inspiration for the mixed cultural influences in his music, (his hit Karlas Back is a play on the Punjabi word ‘Kala’ meaning black person) he has a massive British-Asian following, performing at the BBC Asian Network show in February.
Every track from his first EP, M I S to the T EP (2016) is a student club banger, and his upcoming UK sold out tour is set to be huge.
Big Zuu is a rising grime star in grime scene, but really caught our attention with his lyrics over Dave’s piano version of Ghetto Kyote (see video below).
The West London MC is known for his lyrically clever freestyles and has been firing out new material in the last 6 months, spitting alongside his cousin AJ Tracey on Rinse FM’s Grime Show and his legendary Fire in the Booth freestyles.
His February release Ain’t No Joke, produced by Scam (a grime producer to watch this year) and featuring Drifter is set to make big waves in the grime scene.
Cadet gained national recognition with his Slut freestyle in mid-2015.
His gutsy Letter to Krept has also racked up nearly 3 million views on YouTube (those expecting a diss track were surprised at the raw honesty of Cadet’s lyrics, detailing how his cousin Krept had hurt him and at the same time helped to propel his career).
Taking pride of place on the Wireless and Reading/Leeds line-ups, it won’t be long before the self-proclaimed ‘underrated legend’ can drop the his ‘underrated’ status.
After hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2015 when he used the Walthamstow station knife attack to promote his music (completely bizarre), he’s overcome the bad press and is beginning to establish himself as a top UK rap artist.
Corn, his track with Cadet, will have you in stitches, and is deep tone and playful lyrics make him a big hit with the ladies. Just watch the fan video for his version of J Hus’s Calling Me if you don’t believe us.
Dubbed the ‘British Nicki Minaj,’ it’s already been a big year for Stefflon Don, an MC who combines UK rap with bashment.
She’s made a name for herself on the BBC’s Sound of 2017 hot-list and her mixtape Real Ting, which features big names such as Jeremih and Donae’o, has seen her blow up in both the UK and in Holland, where spent most of her childhood.
The first single from the mixtape, Real Ting, was remixed with a verse from Giggs and the latest single 16 Shots has already hit over 2 million YouTube views. We’re excited for what’s next.
In a genre that seems to be full of trap and American-inspired beats, YGG’s (short for ‘You Get Grime’) sound is unmistakably British.
The three London MCs, Lyrical Strally, PK and Saint, made a name for themselves with their hard-hitting bars on radio sets and freestyles. Their first single Okay sounds like it could be straight out of the bassline heyday of ‘08/’09, and last year’s Don’t Talk Like That has the same sharp lyrics and energetic flow of early grime.
Hailed as grime’s next best thing by RWD, FactMag, ID and Fabric, we’re hoping the people will fall in love with their old-school grime sound as much as we have.
Elf Kid started as part of Lewisham’s The Square, a grime collective known for their cult classic Lewisham McDeez, (with the music video filmed outside a Lewisham McDonalds, no less).
After founder Novelist left the crew, Elf Kid stepped up, producing timeless grime track Golden Boy, his energetic flow over The Square producer Lolingo’s remix of Amerie’s 1 Thing.
It’s easy to pick Elf Kid out instantly amongst other MCs (just check out The Square’s recent freestyle on Sian Anderson’s 1Xtra show).
As part of ASOS Supports Talent, Elf Kid recently flew to Ethiopia to shoot the video for Reload That, his infectious new track that promises to “take grime back to the motherland” – watch the video below.
After being co-signed by Wretch 32 and releasing a collaborative mixtape Young Fire, Old Flame, Avelino has gone from success to success.
His storytelling mirrors that of Wretch’s, but he’s more than held his own with his latest releases.
His 2016 EP FYO (Fuck Your Opinion) was supported by Rinse FM and his latest track Energy features two of the biggest names in grime, Skepta and Stormzy. Our favourite Avelino track is Late Nights in the 15, a chilled rap record with reflective lyrics on the struggles of growing up in Tottenham.
Catch Avelino at Creamfields, Leeds/Reading and London’s XOYO this summer.
Hailing from Northampton, Izzie Gibbs is proof that grime isn’t just a London thing.
He’s been co-signed by Stormzy, recently appearing alongside him on Sir Spyro’s Grime Show on Rinse FM.
Izzie has a fiery, old-school grime sound which has deservedly won him Best Newcomer at the UK Urban Music Awards 2016. His Jutsu EP features Mandem and Bark, two high energy tracks that will have your gun fingers up in a second.
His 2017 releases, Think About It and Lava Lamp, have taken a surprising turn away from grime and towards a slower rap sound, which we think Izzie does well, but we’re hoping he gets back to the gritty grime sound that blew up his career.
Dialect is the first MC from Leeds to really break into the grime scene.
His Don’t Flop clashes (vs. Raptor Warhurst and Bilzar) have proven him as a top battle MC. He performed alongside grime legends such as Wiley, JME and D Double E when Eskimo Dance took on Leeds last year, and (in our opinion) smashed London MC Opium in Lord of the Mics 6.
With a huge number of clashes and freestyles under his belt, we’re hoping for more material from Dialect this year. We’ll be the first to cop an EP.