AllHipHop.com is read and enjoyed by a worldwide audience, and lest we forget our friends across the pond, we say it’s time to pay props to some of the top rappers and musicians from outside the U.S. border.
Kicking off our focus on international Hip-Hop culture is the UK, where MCs are the new pop stars – thanks to artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah.
Dizzee was crowned ‘Best British Male’ at The Brit Awards in 2010 and Tinie in 2011. Only a few years ago, this award would have been taken by pop royalty such as Robbie Williams – one of the most successful solo artists of the past 20 years – and Paul Weller from legendary band, The Jam.
The attention that these MCs are getting from the public and the media has made some of the biggest players in Hip-Hop stand up and take notice. Jay Z was recently quoted about reaching out to Tinie Tempah: “If he wants to be super and successful, he should come to us. I’ve been hearing about him.”
In addition, DJ Whoo Kid has recorded mixtapes with Skepta, Giggs, Tinie Tempah, Wiley, and Klashnekoff and Diddy made #Team UK, a trending topic on Twitter – and that is is just scratching the surface.
The history of the UK MC takes us back a lot further to the late 70s and 80s, with reggae sound systems such as Saxon and Unity, through to London Posse and the emergence of jungle in the late 80s to early 90s. However, it wasn’t until the birth of grime in the early 2000s that the mainstream really stood up and started to take notice.
What differentiates the UK MC from any other MC is that they emerged into the mainstream via rave culture. Rave culture was spawned out of the late 80s acid house movement. The key elements were pirate radio and the raves. This would ensure that jungle then garage and grime sounds would be heard, before any mainstream media would truly jump on board with UK MCs in the early 2000s.
AllHipHop.com managed to catch up individually with SIX of the biggest urban artists in the UK – Professor Green, Wretch 32, Sway, Estelle, Durrty Goodz, and Giggs:
Professor Green is one of the premier rappers of any ethnicity in the UK. After surviving the folding of his label a few years ago, along with the suicide of his distant father, Mr. Green has taken the charts by storm with his soulful, personal track “Read All About It.” Find out about the White rapper whose influence is credited heavily to the Old School American greats.
Wretch 32, originally part of the grime scene and The Movement collective, has since broadened his sound by making credible commercial Hip-Hop. This gained him three Top 5 national hits, including a #1 for his single “Don’t Go,” and he has become one of the biggest stars of 2011. His debut mainstream album, Black & White is out now and entered at #4 in the UK album charts.
Sway, originally from the UK Hip-Hop scene, was one of the first rappers to merge Hip-Hop and grime together to create a unique sound, which has provided a template for other artists to follow. He’s seen support from artists including Akon and Lupe Fiasco, and his new album, The Deliverance, is due out soon.
Estelle is one of the top R&B and rap artists to make the trip across the pond and find commercial success in the United States. Originally known as an MC in the UK, Estelle’s fans soon recognized that she could sing, too, opening up a new lane for her eclectic talents. Her recent single “Thank You” from All of Me and her surprising appearance on the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher has rallied new attention to the lady from Hammersmith, London.
Durrty Goodz is one of the original grime MCs – developing his style and delivery initially over drum and bass/jungle and later over UK garage and grime. He would go on to battle “The Godfather Of Grime,” Wiley, and deliver a classic EP entitled, Axiom. He’s collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Stephen Marley and KRS One. His new album, Overall, is out now.
Giggs, hailing from Peckham, South East London, is uncompromisingly gritty, raw, and gangster. His style has seen him grab attention from some of the biggest players in Hip-Hop from Young Guru to DJ Whookid to B.O.B., all proclaiming to be fans of his work.
Look for individual features on each of the artists above AND MORE, as AllHipHop.com celebrates the rap artists and music of the UK all this week!