Over the last four decades or so, the movements of MC-orientated genres in the UK have been driven by the evolving cultures of West Indian and African diasporas as well as technological developments, shifting trends within club music and a sense of resilience that, at times, has been required to stand tall despite the cynicism of the media or the mainstream music industry.
The below article collects the opinions of industry insiders and some of the most knowledgeable music journalists in the UK. You can hear it on his track Rewind, Jack It Up. It may not seem like much now, but at the time it was revolutionary. It was a Top 20 hit which earned Smiley a spot on Top of the Pops. Building on the innovations of his previous single Cockney Translator, the MC from Stockwell, South London, effortlessly jumped from his own voice employing the Jamaican patois of sound system culture and the accent of the police officer in question, demonstrating in the process the Janus-headed nature of the black British experience.
Only his own community would understand both sides of the exchange. Police Officer was a reggae-rap masterpiece that was musically upbeat while also exposing the issue of police harassment to the wider public. But perhaps more importantly, he also rejected the straight-up reggae chatting of the sound systems.
Instead, he opted to rap just like he talked, mixing together Jamaican and London street slang in a way which felt both completely natural and — in terms of recording — completely new. What really makes Rodney P stand out, though, is the sense of authority he imparts. All hail the king. Stevie Hyper D revolutionised the scope of jungle MCing. But his vibe can be picked up on rave tapes, where you can hear him channeling the energy of a thousand dancers, as much of a fan of the tunes as they are, voicing that energy and making it stronger than one man should possibly be able to.
A true legend. General Levy has the strange honour of being equally credited with breaking jungle as he is with killing it. In , he voiced Incredible, quite probably the biggest jungle track ever released. The track smashed it on dubplate, took over the raves and then stormed up the UK charts. A few poorly worded interviews followed where Levy may — or may not — have claimed to have started the entire jungle scene.
In the world of MC bragging, such claims are pretty much par-for-the-course, but in the then fiercely contested jungle scene, it led to his being widely ostracised. But Maxinquaye, when it landed in , still felt like a revelation.
Tracks like Aftermath and Hell Is Round The Corner had a punch-drunk, psychedelic quality, woven from unlikely samples and wreathed in ghostly atmospheres. For the 21st century he brought a new sound and clarity; his track Witness 1 Hope , said to be the loudest 12" single ever pressed, bas s ically invented dubstep, and Mr Manuva's inimitable blend of Jamaica-via-Stockwell argot with uniquely inventive worldview made him the UK's biggest rap star.
Before garage and grime he showed a generation it was possible to combine absolute individuality with all-round accessibility, and he continues to plough his unique, wobbly furrow to this day. Every emcee who's picked up a mic since Brand New Second Hand dropped in is in his considerable debt, whether they know it or not.
How many MCs can be said to have changed British music from the underground and the mainstream alike? Not many. It helped get her signed to major label Polydor, but the tune's more remarkable legacy is that it's such a timeless club banger, still regularly heard on dancefloors across the UK, 17 years later.
Nonetheless there's a sense that Dynamite is overlooked, like much of UK garage history. Her impact on pop culture in the early s as a confident, articulate, politically sharp MC, making waves for black British culture in a scene dominated by male MCs who kept shooting themselves in the foot in Neutrino's case, literally , is too easily forgotten. Grime's self-anointed Godfather, musical heartbeat and proudest, loudest, unapologetically reckless ambassador has arguably done more for the genre than any other.
As a lyricist, he remains the genre's most iconic. As comfortable spitting in his kitchen on Instagram as he is in front of thousands on stage, Wiley is grime. And grime is Wiley. A sensational live MC in the dance and on radio sets, Riko's career straddles genres and decades, beginning on London pirate stations in the mids as a jungle MC.
His power is all in his flexible delivery, switching effortlessly between the deep-voiced, patois-heavy style of ragga and an altogether more cockney-sounding grime flow. His greatest triumph? Having the best vocal on Ice Rink, possibly Wiley's grimiest ever instrumental. Kano, Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder vocalled the classic too, along with four other MCs, but only Riko had the might to dominate the riddim.
His latest singles go as hard as he did on Pressure FM, all those years ago. While still in his teens Dizzee Rascal pioneered an abrasive, aggressive sound. He entered the music industry in his prime; part enfant terrible, part extraordinary innovator. Dizzee pushed the sound across continents, earning a Mercury Prize that was followed by platinum plaques. You could call him the Martin Parr of music, showcasing the beauty in the mundane.
Mike Skinner is the MC who brought suburban working class culture to the forefront. For many, it was the first time hearing a UK voice from outside of London rapping on the radio. Always committed to supporting new talent, Skinner has helped launch the careers of Kano, Ghetts and Murkage Dave, also stylistically opening the door for unusual artists like Jimothy Lacoste and more conventional rappers like Professor Green and J Hus, who himself has cited The Streets as a major influence.
His back catalogue looks as thin as his frame, but Skinnyman's legend looms large over the history of UK hip-hop. Fifteen years on, and rappers not fit to lace Skinny's boots have turned that truism on its head. Council Estate of Mind, that dazzling debut, is a definitive document of the times in more ways than just that one. Skinny's fearsome freestyle prowess saw him face down Eminem with off-the-top-of-the-head disses during the supposed battle-rapper's first British gig.
But his greatest talent is his ability to mine bigger, universal truths out of private and personal moments. He did this throughout an LP that continues to inspire and resonate today. Mr K-Lash was the bridge between the two: a voluble, vivid lyricist whose pen-pictures of his Hackney neighbourhood were both a counterpoint to — and, likely, an inspiration for — many of the grime MCs making their name across east London and beyond. Klash's early releases were hailed as instant classics, but were eclipsed in when he teamed up with Nottingham beatmaker Joe Buhdha for the classic album Lionheart: Tussle with the Beast.
Klashnekoff came along at exactly the right time for music, but was arguably too far ahead of the game to become the big name his talent truly merited. An innovator since his teenage days at the forefront of More Fire Crew, Lethal Bizzle — back then, just Lethal B — has always been ahead of changing trends in music, and technology.
When garage collapsed amidst bad publicity and acrimony over the next year or two, Bizzle reinvented himself as a solo artist, bridging divides between rival crews in with one of the most important grime tracks of all time: Pow! An anomaly in grime's early days, Pow hit the top ten after laying waste to London's clubs — acquiring the status of legend, it was so riotous it was even banned by numerous anxious club-owners.
Kano has been there at many pivotal moments in UK rap history, making his presence felt and known. With each album that followed, Kano continued to push the boundaries of what he considered grime to be and yet, because of this, he had lost much of the flare that had garnered so much attention. The Good Times Songfacts states….
The group produces humorous, controversial and often explicit…. Patrick Junior C. Fronted by MC Fusion, Credit to the Nation were one of the first commercial hip-hop acts producing a distinctively British sound, albeit with a hint…. While still only a teenager Lewis released "B Boy…. Little Simz real name Simbi Ajikawo is an English rapper, musician, actress and singer. Formerly signed to The Beats…. Phi-Life Cypher is a Luton-based rap group.
Arguably one of England's most talented hip hop acts, having cemented their reputation from…. He formed the seminal Mud Family…. Loading player…. Scrobble from Spotify? Connect to Spotify Dismiss. Search Search. British Rap Artists. The Streets 1,, listeners There are two artists with this name: 1. A British rapper 2.
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Road rap (also known as British gangsta rap or simply UK rap) is a genre of music pioneered in South London, primarily in Brixton and Peckham. From the roads to the globe, UK Rap is life. The hottest new UK rap, hip-hop, grime, R&B. Want more UK Drill? Topsify UK. 71, likesabout 5 hr 30 min. Peter King · Smiley Culture · Rodney P · Stevie Hyper D · General Levy · Tricky · Roots Manuva · Ms Dynamite.