Slightly delayed in getting this list up for the end of May but for the good reason that we’ve been waiting on a few late-comer releases that it would’ve been impossible not to include. Those readers who have been following us for a while will know how much love we have for UK hip-hop, which in the last 30 years has enjoyed the rather peculiar feat of remaining in the cultural recesses of public consciousness whilst simultaneously serving as a springboard for more commercially successful UK urban genres; namely that of trip-hop and grime.
Nevertheless, we were glad to see Grime’s post-millennial boom coincide with a re-energised spotlight on UKHH, acting as a catalyst for a new wave of Britain’s young cultural subterranea to take the genre further than it has ever been before. Here are 10 artists who did just that in the month of May.
1. ☯ sensei ☯ – ‘bebop ☯ senzo.’
Lord Apex (aka Sensei) is part of that new breed of post-Dilla UK hip-hop artists melting heady beats with flawless wordplay. This inebriating cut is off his 12-track Hyōkō Meisō (elevation – Meditation) release that came out last month.
2. Benny Mails – ‘Western’
We first discovered Benny through a random car cypher video session in late-night South London alongside Jadasea and Rago Foot of King Krule’s Sub Luna City crew. Impressed with his freestyles, we had a little poke around and came up trumps with the music on his Soundcloud. This track isn’t strictly new but it did get some fly video treatment last month so we thought we’d include it for anyone who hasn’t yet discovered this talent. You can listen to the track in full on Soundcloud and keep your eyes peeped for the bi-monthly Radar Radio show he does with the rest of his Nihilis crew.
3. Kojey Radical – ‘Bambu’
Our boy Andrew Mensah put us on to this guy after seeing him support Young Fathers a few weeks back, and well, we’re completely blown away. Grappling with the dark arts of park-bench apathy, racism and capitalism that has plagued our younger generation in Britain, Kojey embodies the mind-set of urban young people in a way that no-one else could express.
4. Benjamin AD – ‘Monster’s Ball’
South London artist Benjamin AD has been away from music for a long minute. After popping up on SBTV and Link Up TV a few years ago he’s finally making a long-awaited return with a track produced by the soulful Canadian beatmaker Junia-T (known for his jazzy production on Little Simz’ ‘Sleep Paralysis‘). His surly tone may remind you of a young Roots Manuva but it’s distinguished by his ornate rhymes and ability to drum up contagious melodies alongside his lyrics.
5. Wesley Yanks – ‘Entro’
We don’t have that much info on this Birmingham rapper yet but these murky raps and alluring visuals were enough to catch our attention. Peep the video below and head over to his Soundcloud for more.
6. Little Simz – ‘Sit Tight’
Keeping the momentum going for the 21-year-old North London rapper – who in the last two years has been co-signed by Jay-Z and Dizzee Rascal – Little Simz reflects on her new found fame and success both in the UK and overseas in America. The track is off her AGE 101: Drop 4 mixtape, the final prelude to a long awaited debut album set for release later this year.
7. Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn – ‘Grey’
A brand new track from the Brighton duo following their freely downloadable album last year. Harvey’s skills as a producer never cease to amaze, choosing otherworldly chill-out piano licks to blend with fleet-of-foot rhythms. On the flip-side, Frankie’s heart-rending lyrics always seem more like blues-confessionalism poetry that usual rap lyrics; unravelling his personal life with such candour that it is near impossible not to affect anyone who listens closely enough.
8. Othasoul – ‘The Sickness’
Keeping boom-bap alive in the UK are this trio from Camden Town. Jazzy trumpets and a lurid pace set the perfect scene for the boys to parlay rugged flow and deep bars with eachother.
9. Cutta Chase – Drifting (ft. Verb T)
Astral traveller Cutta Chase only just came back from spiritual ventures in Australia and hasn’t wasted anytime in putting out new sounds. Linking up with High-Focus signee and Four Owls member Verb-T, ‘Drifting’ is a true exercise in spaced-out flow and stream-of-consciousness rhymes.
10. Loyle Carner – ‘Tierney Terrace’
A new one from South London’s Loyle Carner following his heartfelt 2014 EP A Little Late – dedicated to his late father. Centred around his grandparents’ home (Tierney Terrance), the track continues to unwrap the sense of love, loss and abandonment he’s had to go through. Out July 24th on paradYse Records.