Although in the last five years UK Hip-Hop has been commercially superseded by its distant relative Grime, the genre remains a hotbed of fresh, young talent. With the late 90s/early 00s typified somewhat as a golden era for UKHH (heads like Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Blak Twang, Mud Family, Task Force, Phi Life Cypher and Jehst’s first group Champions of Nature), the last few years has seen a similar resurgence. High-Focus Records, YNR Productions and Suspect-Packages are all consistently pushing out quality music, the Don’t Flop rap battle league continues to build up a gigantic following in the UK and abroad, and Dubstep cross-over artists Foreign Beggars have been performing their style of UK Hip-Hop to tens of thousands half way across the world. For all this growth what is still missing are some undisputed key records that could reference and define this time-period, just like Skinnyman‘s Council Estate Of Mind, Jehst’s Return Of the Drifter and Klashnekoff’s The Sagas Of… did for the noughties. We reckon it’ll come from these guys below; a diverse collection of the top five UK Hip-Hop newcomers that you need on your radar.
5. Lunar C – StillSkint (Bradford)
Absolutely wrecking the Don’t Flop rap battle league (check this), Lunar C has garnered a cult Youtube following for his battle videos and SB.TV appearances. But what’s more intriguing is his own music out on the Synoptic Music label, fusing an impressively wide vocabulary with some dope flow.
4. DatKid – Home By 8 (Bristol)
Energetic Bristolian rapper DatKid has been making movements with this track Home by 8, a tale of a tagged rapper trying to live his life. It’s the title track off his debut album, dropping in May. Keep those eyes peeled people.
3. Frankie Stew – Zhoung Guo (Brighton)
Hailing from Brighton (‘See I was born by the seafront, t-shirt large and I seem drunk, I seek love so please pass the peach blunt‘), fresh-faced 17-year-old Frankie Stew is one third of the rap group Concept of Thought. His solo music fuses laidback rhyming over the dopest instrumentals (check out the collaborative EP he put out with up-and-coming producer Harvey Gunn called The Gentlemen’s Club) that makes for perfect summer listening.
2. Skittles – Dot2Dot (Manchester)
With the release of his debut album this year (Poor In £100 Trainers), Skittles has made his mark in UK Hip-Hop by carving out his own niche in the genre. His impeccable flow, original storytelling and Mancunion accent make him one of the most accomplished and original rappers we’ve heard in years. He’s playing at Outlook Festival this year as well, so definately check him out if you’re there.
1. Cutta Chase – Ill Manner (London)
Brit-school leaver Cutta Chase is our number 1. His lyrical ability to tell his own stories with references to sub-cultures, politics and philosophy make his music truly different. His flow is something completely new and unique, and when paired with soulful inhouse productions, you have a man on par with Jehst. Big up.
[Shout outs to UK Hip-Hop junkie Matt Gee for helping collate this list]