UK Hip-Hop – Uncovered

I thought today I'd open some eyes to the brighter side of something viewed as being slightly… shit. Yup, UK hip-hop. By anyone that doesn't take an active interest in the UK game, it is dismissed as a pretty poor British slant on a more global (or American) genre. Granted if you listen to commercial radio or watch Channel U, then you'll be witnessing quite a lot of grime, esky-beat, and generally midi-produced beats with substandard vocals. However, there is some good stuff, you just need to delve a little deeper…

First things first, to put things into some perspective, a lot of the UK stuff getting airwaves should perhaps be seen as a lot of the American hip-pop gaining airwaves. Basically, it's the weak stuff – but, whereas the American hip-pop is mass produced commercial crap, designed to sell records by the bucket load, the UK stuff is just poor… full stop. Enough of the doom and gloom though, I did promise to tell you bout the brighter side of things, and a promise is a promise.

I'll start with one of my fav UK hip-hop producers; Ghost. He currently releases records on UK label Breakin' Bread. His beats are methodically created and generally sound laid back. The thing I like bout Ghost is that he injects his own style into his records, he's not trying to copy anyone or recreate a sound he thinks we expect to hear – it's very unique. Ghost's tracks often feature the UK emcees; Verb T, Asaviour, and Kashmere – three very talented emcees indeed. The long awaited debut LP from Ghost came out in April this year, it's called Seldom Seen Often Heard – you can watch the video on youtube for the track of the same name and also sample the track here…

Ghost – Seldom Seen Often Heard
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 24th June.

Also releasing on Breakin' Bread is Natural Self. His debut album, Let Peace be The Ruler, dropped in February of this year. The album is a pretty funky affair and actually features saxophonist John Styles of the Quantic Soul Orchestra, and soul vocalist Alice Russell. There's a real hip-hop, funk, jazz, feel to the Natural Self sound, but he manages to fuse these genres in a powerful way, with much of the emphasis on his method of utilising all things percussion!

Another strong UK hip-hop label is Low Life Records. Low Life have such artists as; Jehst, Asaviour, Braintax, Micall Parknsun, Mystro, Rodney P, SkinnyMan, Task Force, Verb T & Kashmere, on their roster. If you are serious about liking real hip-hop, then you should check out all of those names I just listed. You might not like them all, but I'd consider them to be the better UK artists out there at the moment.

Of course I could mention Roots Manuva, DJ Format, The Herbaliser, (and even MF DOOM was born in the UK!), but everyone and their cat already knows bout those guys – as good as they are. The people fighting for recognition are the likes of the Breakin' Bread and Low Life boys. Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of people reading this could be thinking "I know all of this!", but the trouble is… not ENOUGH people know about these guys and these labels. I've lost count of the amount of times I've discovered that a person has liked quality American stuff, to then go and ask "oh, do you like so-and-so? He's British", for them to just respond with a big fat "who?!".

Anyway, other decent UK artists worth checking out, include; Black Grass, Blak Twang, Cappo, Diversion Tactics, Foreign Beggars, Harry Love, Klashnekoff, Kyza, Lewis Parker, Lowkey, Nextmen, Phi Life Cypher, Sundragon, Tommy Evans, and Ty. I'm sure I've left out plenty of names, so feel free to let me know who else you dig. Plus, this doesn't even include the tonnes of very talented producers and emcees pushing their stuff on MySpace.

It's a tough country to produce hip-hop in – the charts are happy to nurture the American hip-pop, then when some UK hip-hop artists manage to make a break through, it turns out to be artists I'm not too impressed with – i.e. Sway and Lady Sovereign. Mind you, Lewis Parker managed to turn plenty of heads stateside and now he's living in New York. He actually worked on some of the tracks for Ghostface's latest album, Fishscale. Check this track from Lewis Parker's 2002 album Its All Happening Now

Lewis Parker – Sunny Dedications feat. Profound
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 24th June.

Anyway, like I said many paragraphs ago; the good stuff is there if you take the time to go looking for it. Specially with the internet these days, there's no excuses. But, unless you stumble upon this stuff, then you need a nudge in the right direction. Here's a few good web resources for UK hip-hop…

Useful links:

  • http://www.rustysheriff.com/ Rusty Sheriff

    Ah… UK hip-hop eh?

    Tricky one…

    I know I should do some more digging in that area but theres so much, I’m behind the current trends/releases… Gimme a year or so to catch up as usual!!!

    Speaking of which, and proving my point, Klashnekoff played in my town the other week. I was on the guest list as well – yet I still just go to the same old pub and miss it. Hummmm… No wonder I’m clueless!!!

    hahahahahahahahaha….

  • http://www.rustysheriff.com Rusty Sheriff

    Ah… UK hip-hop eh?

    Tricky one…

    I know I should do some more digging in that area but theres so much, I’m behind the current trends/releases… Gimme a year or so to catch up as usual!!!

    Speaking of which, and proving my point, Klashnekoff played in my town the other week. I was on the guest list as well – yet I still just go to the same old pub and miss it. Hummmm… No wonder I’m clueless!!!

    hahahahahahahahaha….

  • http://jeej.wordpress.com/ jeej

    Indeed, and if you cant help yourself… who can help you?

  • http://jeej.wordpress.com/ jeej

    Indeed, and if you cant help yourself… who can help you?