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RAP RADAR: 10 UK RAPPERS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…

Updated: 23/08/17          Written by: Natalya Davies

Since the breakthrough of Grime into the UK mainstream’s consciousness around 2016, the nation’s rap scene has flourished into something very exciting for music lovers. This breakthrough made way for an appreciation of the drill, dancehall and afrobeat fusions of artists like J Hus, Yxng Bane and IAMDDB, making UK music a serious contender globally.

As a homage to this recent success, I wanted to spend some time putting together a collective of my favourite UK rap talents across a number of different genres, however, I wanted to use my platform to do this differently.

We all know that the AJ Traceys and Giggs’ are HOT on the music scene, so picking artists like this would make for a completely predictable listing; despite their worthiness to be entitled the hottest UK rappers of the modern day. No, for this piece, I wanted to challenge myself to feature only artists with under 100k monthly listens on Spotify* so that I could truly showcase the underground kings and queens that you may be missing out on!

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 rappers you need to know about…

 

10. NOVELIST

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Monthly Listens: 28,000*

For Fans of: Asco, Ambush Buzzworl, Youngs Teflon

First in the list, but last in my ranking is Novelist, a 19 year old MC and producer who has certainly put his stamp on Grime culture in London. Through features with the likes of Skepta, Kanye West and Tom Misch, he is rapidly proving his versatility and potential despite being such a young artist.

“So, if Novelist has worked with the greats, why is he so under-the-radar?” – you may ask. Well, this is likely the result of his devotion to the underground rap scene, assuring that a traditional route (not dominated by social media strategies and D2C marketing) is the way he wants to keep things. Who can blame him?

Recommended track: 10/10

9. JAM BAXTER

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Monthly Listens: 46,000*

For Fans of: Fliptrix, Verb T, Dabbla

If you’re looking for something truly underrated, Jam Baxter’s poetically cryptic and mysterious lyrics versed with atmospheric Hip Hop beats and dark imagery makes for a very interesting mixture – indeed.

“Excellent Donut” featuring Ed Scissor was the track that originally brought my attention to the rapper, its alluring layers yet minimal structure are bound to instantly hold you captive.

Recommended track: For A Limited Time Only

 

8. BARNEY ARTIST

Image result for barney artist

Monthly Listens: 80,000*

For Fans of: Loyle Carner, Alfa Mist, Chris McClenney

Barney Artist, from East London, is different to anything else featured on this list – a very special addition, in fact. If you are a fan of  Hip Hop, chill vibes and relaxing soul beats, then look no more, Barney is exactly what you have been looking for.

After numerous collaborations with Neo-Soul royalty Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei and Alfa Mist, Barney is quickly becoming one to know within this scene.

Recommended track: I’m Going to Tell You

 

7. NADIA ROSE

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Monthly Listens: 98,000*

For Fans of: Stefflon Don, Lady Leshurr, Yungen

One thing that is apparent in the behaviour of young rappers is the need to be daring  and harness a confidence that is indestructible, however, with Nadia Rose, this captivating swagger is so convincingly natural. Rose, who also happens to be the cousin of Stormzy, has a striking dexterity in the rap game, similar to the likes of Lady Leshurr.

If you want a taste of this addictive prowess, simply head over to her video for “Stations” where you can see her rapping on train tracks – without permission!

Recommended track: Skwod

 

6. MAXSTA

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Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, P Money, D Double E

Despite being a rather underground artist, Maxsta is a well renowned and experienced name in the Grime scene – however, his position says nothing about his talent; simply that he is unwilling to compromise his sound to appeal to a larger audience.

His music perfectly encompasses the brutal essence of Grime, in a way that is extremely authentic. For anyone that is even merely interested in UK rap, Maxsta is a must-listen.

Recommended track: Guns and Roses

5. REEKO SQUEEZE

Image result for reeko squeeze

Monthly Listens: 39,000*

For Fans of: Recky, SL, Harlem Spartans

Originally a member of popular Drill crew ‘Section Boyz’, Reeko Squeeze is a UK rapper that is proving to be one to watch over the next year. Despite finessing the ego and hard edge that is essential in the rapper aesthetic, Reeko possesses a likeability and drive that is likely to win you over, even if the music is not for you.

This infectious drive is sprinkled throughout Reeko’s tracks, mixed with a boyish cockiness, making for an unforgettable combination.

Recommended track: Diablo

 

4. REEKZ MB

Image result for REEKZ MB

Monthly Listens: 48,000*

For Fans of: AJ Tracey, Abra Cadabra, MoStack

Reekz MB is another truly underground artist, his music often shedding light on the harsh reality of growing up as a young black male in the nation’s capital – without filter. There is an undeniable aggression to Reekz’ style accompanied atop hypnotic drill beats, making him a great listen for those that are big fans of the underground rap scene.

With Drill groups like Harlem Spartans and 67 dominating London’s South-side, it is likely that this is not the last that you will hear of rappers like Reekz.

Recommended track: Blueprint

3. SUSPECT

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Monthly Listens: 86,000*

For Fans of: Avelino, Fredo, Skepta

Labelled an “underground king” by many,  Suspect isn’t your average UK rapper. Not one interested in the fame and fortune that haunts so many younger rappers, Suspect is truly here to establish himself as a serious artist – making music worthy of respect and high regard.

You don’t need to do your research to learn this, however, a quick listen to his albums “Loading” (2017) and “Still Loading” (2018) will tell you this about the rapper. There is an evident natural aggression yet certainty to his sound, similar to the likes of Skepta, projecting the “no messing” attitude which has captured the attention of American audiences.

Recommended track: One Way

 

2. DOUBLE S

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Monthly Listens: 33,000*

For Fans of: Ghetts, JME, Black the Ripper

Double S is another one of these incredible talents that successfully manages to slip under the radar – making him more stylishly distant than underrated. However, despite being somewhat isolated from the public eye, the London MC’s monthly listen count reflects nothing on the gems that are waiting to be discovered in debut album “Double Vision” (2017).

With collaborations from Grime heavyweights JME and Wiley, “Double Vision” is a release fueled with the fastest lyrical flows and an infectious bravado, making this a release which should be on the radar of all grime fans.

Recommended track: Secret

 

1. KNUCKS

Image result for knucks rapper

Monthly Listens: 95,000*

For Fans of: Big Tobz, KwolleM, Yung Fume

For an avid music fan, I appreciate nothing more than an artist striving to infuse their own unique flavour into their work, and this much can be said for North-West London rapper Knucks. If his witty yet staggeringly suave nature isn’t enough to have you hooked, then his self-produced soul infused beats should surely do the trick.

Despite releasing a rather typical ‘Afrobeat’-inspired track “Hooper” featuring Not3s, Knucks is one of very few UK rappers that can not be defined – quite similar to rap’s lovable rogue, Dave. Knucks does not limit himself to certain styles and beats, instead, his experimental nature makes for some of the most interesting sounds currently circulating the London scene.

Recommended track: Vows

 

 

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Releasing new music or a new project? Email aamusicblog2017@gmail.com or contact via instagram @ABSOLUTELYAUDIO for review/article enquiries. More information is available via the contact button on the homepage.

 

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INSTAGRAM… THE MUSIC INDUSTRY’S FRIEND OR FOE?

Updated: 26th July 2018         Written by: Natalya Davies

“It is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer”

 

IG2

 

With explosive, new releases from Ariana Grande and Twenty One Pilots, Drake dominating the charts and Cardi B’s baby making an appearance, it must be said that July has already been a busy month for music news. It comes without surprise, then, that other stories have seemingly slipped through the cracks, somewhat unnoticed.

On July 9th, self-proclaimed life guru, Jaden Smith played a role in creating what could be a new potential route for the modern artist; an Instagram exclusive album release. The young artist revealed “SYRE: THE ELECTRIC ALBUM” via his social media page accompanied by six alluring visuals, forming a larger picture, with Instagram being the sole platform of access, at the time. Despite this being a music industry first, so far very little has come from Smith’s creative attempt, therefore, has it simply fallen short by recent music news or is it really just an ineffective method?

 

 

In an attempt to compete with YouTube and its staggering 1.57bn monthly active users, Instagram has recently launched IGTV, an attempt to reach out to content creators of all kinds that are naturally gravitating to the visual worlds of these popular social platforms. However, this is not Instagram’s first effort to bridge the gap between the creation and its audience; in late June, a music sticker was added to its features, allowing their 400 million users to add a 7 second clip of fully licensed music to their posts via Instagram Stories.

With the awareness of the important interaction between Instagram users and music, music has become a key strategy for the enhancement of the social media experience, reinforcing the company’s relevance in the marketplace. Alongside this, as users begin to adopt the music sticker as a soundtrack to their featured moments, a new, potentially effective way for artists to gain compensation and exposure has been created.

“This heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account.”

 

It has been argued previously that Facebook’s audience has become increasingly disengaged, particularly with music artists and content creators as the medium lacks the personal touch that Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube encapsulates. In light of this, it is justifiable to suggest that Instagram is Facebook’s second chance at reaching out to social media users effectively; and music is the answer.

The issue that has been identified, however, is that this heavy adoption of music could potentially lead to yet more power in the hands of the IT sector – and with this power, you can never assume that the music industry’s best interests will be taken into account. This move does suggest to be something potentially disruptive, especially considering that the industry has only recently regained stability with streaming services growing in popularity.

While it is easy to predict that users will embrace the fusion of social media and music, it is unlikely to predict whether the Instagram exclusive release will be as successful. It has recently been argued that the opportunity for music windowing (whereby artists release music exclusively to one platform for a limited time) has long gone – it seems that consumers no longer mind the wait for the new music to arrive on their favoured platform. Therefore, this is likely to be an explanation for the lack of success in Jaden Smith’s Instagram “window-like” release.

On the other hand, however, in the past, Instagram has been used as a beneficial tool, particularly for artists seeking high engagement, with little marketing. The method of the “surprise” album release through social media has been a concept adopted by the likes of Drake and Beyonce, and has seen to create large amounts of traction through the audience’s excitement. While Drake and Beyonce are two of the world’s most successful artists of the modern day, this is a great example of how Instagram and similar social media platforms can once again bring the audience closer to music.

However, as the saying goes, everything must be in moderation!

 

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RISING STAR JORJA SMITH BAGS NO. 3 POSITION IN OFFICIAL CHARTS WITH DEBUT ALBUM ‘LOST AND FOUND’

Updated:  5th March 2018        Written by: Natalya Davies

“Have previous associations with modern music royalty lead to an unfair level of expectation? It is likely.”

 

Image result for jorja smith lost and found

FOR FANS OF: RAY BLK, KALI UCHIS, MAHALIA

RATING: ★★★✰✰

There is an extremely famous proverb that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, or in fact, even a wonderful thing. However, for Jorja Smith’s debut album ‘Lost and Found’, it seems that the former is more fitting.

While the album has been successful in reaching a number 3 position in the official music charts, despite being the singer’s debut solo collective, it could be argued that the outcome simply was not enough to meet the high expectations built around Smith’s previous collaborations. Having previous associations with modern music royalty including the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Stormzy is an incredible achievement for a budding new artist like Jorja Smith, however, has this lead to an unfair level of expectation? It is likely.

‘Lost and Found’ is undeniably a strong release, especially being that it is the first complete solo-release of her career. The issue is that, maybe, it was simply too much, too soon from the artist, when an EP would have been sufficient. This conclusion has been brought about by the lack of differentiation within the heavily ballad-based album, causing few songs to stand out in a refreshing manner.

 

Image result for jorja smith

 

On the contrary, when carefully listening through ‘Lost and Found’, it is clear that there are many incredible pieces of work that, ironically, seem to have lost their way. Opening track ‘Lost and Found’, sets a compelling tone, particularly with the introduction of Smith’s alluring vocals in the line “Why do we all fall down with innocence still on the ground?“.

While also following the ballad-like, controlled trend that dominates this release, ‘Goodbyes’ and ‘The One’ are two phenomenally written and produced pieces, with choruses powerful enough to blow your mind. Much can be said about many of the other pieces, however, it seems a shame that these musical gems are somewhat misplaced among tracks that fail to boost the listener’s attention on them.

 

“‘Lost and Found’ is a release which is sure to strengthen the rising star’s career and reinforce her reputation as a credible modern artist, worthy of the limelight that is being received.”

 

‘Lifeboats (freestyle)’, ‘Where Did I Go?’ and ‘Blue Lights’ seem to be the album’s saving grace, as they supply the differentiation that has been neglected, no matter how minimal this differentiation is. ‘Where Did I Go?’ is a particularly engrossing listen as it seems to be the only major attempt within the collective to incorporate an upbeat, pop-esque break to the restricted yet gloomy theme.

Over all, ‘Lost and Found’ is a release which is sure to strengthen the rising star’s career and reinforce her reputation as a credible modern artist, worthy of the limelight that is being received. The main critique, here, is simply that maybe ‘Lost and Found’ just is not memorable enough in it’s current state, however, with the consideration of track-listing rework, this would be a release which you would never want to forget.

 

Track List Rating:

1. Lost and Found – 

2. Teenage Fantasy – ★✰

3. Where Did I Go? – ★✰

4. February 3rd – ★✰✰✰

5. On Your Own – ★✰✰

6. The One – ★✰

7. Wandering Romance – ★✰✰✰

8. Blue  Lights – ★✰✰

9. Lifeboats (freestyle) – ★✰✰

10. Goodbyes – 

11. Tomorrow – ★✰

12. Don’t Watch Me Cry – ★✰

 

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: ‘Lost and Found’

KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH JORJA!

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/jorjasmithmusic/

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/JorjaSmith

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/jorjasmith_/?hl=en

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JANUARY FAVOURITES | 2018

Here’s just a slight glimpse of what I have been enjoying this month…

 

DISCOVERIES

VOWS – KNUCKS

For fans of: Kojo Funds, Dave, Mostack

As an avid music fan, it is a personal goal of mine to discover new music and artists as often as I possibly can, daily preferably. Despite the amount of music you listen to or the genres you delve into, each listener will find sparks in different artists dependent on various factors like relatability, lyrics, beats, etc. However, this ‘spark’, so to speak, is exactly what makes finding new music so exciting and the biggest spark I have come across recently was when discovering London rapper Knucks.

Knucks resides in a league of his very own, serving us modern rap with a clever retro twist. ‘Vows’ portrays the rapper’s audacious boyish charm, similar to likes of AJ Tracey,  fused with an authentic jazz inspired sound that acts as a nostalgic time machine, taking anyone that listens to a past musical era. With UK rap and R’n’B being as well received as it is currently, artists like Knucks will have no problem standing out from the crowd.

Future releases from Knucks will be very highly anticipated, no doubt.

TROPICAL – SL

For fans of: AJ Tracey, K-Trap, Harlem Spartans

Similar to Knucks, Croydon rapper SL is proving to be a contender in the UK music scene with his latest single ‘Tropical’ which was released on December 25th, 2017; quite the Christmas present. Again, my favourite part about SL’s sound is that he has taken such a relevant sound and added an innovative twist which sets him apart from the rest of the rather saturated crowd.

Grime is often perceived as an intimidating or even aggressive genre, which is why the unlikely contrast of the minimal and mellow music works so well behind SL’s daring lyrics. The future seems very bright for the young rapper, I can only hope that we see more of this.

THE WEEKEND – SZA x CALVIN HARRIS

For fans of: Daniel Caesar, Miguel, Kehlani

It’s important to remix mostly because sometimes you have to be sure that there is no better version of you to be attained… and then sometimes you realise that there are definitely better versions to be attained, and you have to get in and attack those moments. Commit yourself to being something better.(SZA)

Whether this recent reflection from SZA is talking about music or something much much deeper, the meaning rings true. Experimentation can go wrong, but it can also go so right and the latter can definitely be said for the recent remix of SZA’s hit ‘The Weekend’ by Calvin Harris. This version exposed SZA’s well-known R’n’B sound to an infectious funk flare that has recently come to the mainstream eye through the likes of Bruno Mars and Tuxedo. While her original hit is an incredible song by itself, this remix proves that a better (or different) version of you really can be attained through a different outlook.

LIFESTYLE – BELLY SQUAD

For fans of: Lotto Boyzz, Big Tobz, Nafe Smallz

Donning the sound that is currently booming from the streets of London, Belly Squad have fused the best of Afrobeat with UK rap elements, a sound which is sure to catapult the trio into the forefront of the musical limelight in the coming year.

Recent release ‘Lifestyle’ is the epitome of an infectious club classic that is sure to grow in popularity throughout the coming year. With one listen of this track, you will certainly be humming along to the chorus and reaching for a beer (trust me, I was).

EXCELLENT DONUT – JAM BAXTER x ED SCISSOR

For fans of: Dabbla, Hopsin, Verb T

If you’re a fan of lyrical content, then this is the one for you. A perfect collaboration between UK rap heavyweights Jam Baxter and Ed Scissor, ‘Excellent Donut’ will leave you feeling reflective as the clever musical poetry poured into the music sinks into your mind.

With much of the music that I have recently discovered or is currently in the mainstream charts, it is clear to see that lyrical content often goes overlooked or is viewed as not as important as aspects such as melody and beats. Jam Baxter and Ed Scissor, however, are a much needed reminder that lyrical poetry is still very much present in modern music as a beautiful art form of its own.

jan 1

SONGS

DON BROCO – COME OUT TO LA

For fans of: Mallory Knox, Young Guns, Lower Than Atlantis

The fifth teaser unveiled for the much anticipated third studio album ‘Technology’ from Bedford based four piece Don Broco, ‘Come Out To LA’ is the perfect representation of why the rock scene needs bands like this. Rather than following the crowd with their sound or visuals for that matter, Don Broco are experimenting with electronic influences, pop choruses as well as hard rock heaviness to create something completely new and exciting.

With such a broad genre as Rock, it is extremely easy to get lost in the crowd, especially with how rapidly fan bases can be cultivated in modern times, however, Don Broco, as well as others such as Enter Shikari, are just a few acts that threaten to be here for a long time. Here’s to February 2nd!

ITS A VIBE – 2 CHAINZ, TY DOLLA $IGN, TREY SONGZ, JHENE AIKO

For fans of: Pusha T, A$AP Ferg, Juicy J

In these unfavourable winter months when the days are short and the weather is far, far too cold, sometimes relaxing just needs to be on the agenda which is why this song has landed into my favourites this month.

‘It’s a Vibe’ is a track that should be a favourite of any R’n’B lover because it really is a ‘fits all’ sort of song. Whether you’re relaxing by yourself after a hard day or getting some drinks in before a heavy night, this song will set the tone perfectly and makes you want to sing along in a world of your own.

KNOW MY TING – GHETTS x SHAKKA

For fans of: Kano, Giggs, Wretch 32

With the uprise of grime in the UK mainstream, it is unbelievable that an artist like Ghetts has been so undeservedly overlooked, however, ‘Know My Ting’ featuring hot topic Shakka stands to shake up the game.

In comparison to a large number of grime records released within the last year, Ghetts serves us something that truly stands out as unique and even catchy with it’s repetitive hooks.

LET IT RING – MOSTACK

For fans of: J Hus, MIST, Kojo Funds

Mostack is just one of the many British artists catapulting ‘Afrobeat’ and UK R’n’B into the musical forefront which has caught the attention of many.

‘Let It Ring’ features such a relevant sound in current UK music and proves to be much of a modern club classic which comes as no surprise when listening to its catchy and repetitive chorus. Even one listen will leave you humming along.

IN MIND – PARTING GIFT

For fans of: Holding Absence, Noija, Glass Tides

The black horse of my five favourite songs for January, Parting Gift are post-hardcore newcomers based in Manchester that threaten to take over the UK rock scene. ‘In Mind’ instantly evokes emotion due to the contrast of its soft reflective verses and chaotic, pleading choruses.

As cliche as it is to say, ‘In Mind’ takes the listener on a journey through which different thoughts and feelings are provoked. Rather than being consistent, the song progresses and retracts, which is reflective of the troubled lyrics. There is a certain power when a song is so convincing to its listeners and this is a power which Parting Gift have in the bag.

jan 2

ARTISTS

SHAKKA

For fans of: Not3s, Avelino, WSTRN

Within the last few months, Shakka has been making his presence recognised in the UK R’n’B/Afrobeat scene through many collaborations with artists such as Not3s, Wretch 32, Ghetts, Young Thug and many, many more. Shakka has fallen into my January favourites as he is one to watch in 2018, an artist that I am finding very interesting watching grow musically. He is living proof that innovation is alive in modern music as he brings a distinctive sound to the table with an energy that is certainly infectious.

Image result for shakka

RECOMMENDED:

‘No Drama’ Not3s Feat. Shakka

‘I Heart The Weekend’

 

LOYLE CARNER

For fans of: Tom Misch, Casisdead, Rejjie Snow

Another exciting career that is developing right before our eyes is that of Loyle Carner, a UK ‘Hip-Hopper’ with an authentic neo-soul touch that differentiates the rapper from his competition. Having been nominated for a Mercury award in 2017, alongside various other awards, Carner has been the topic of conversation in the music world and you can bet this is just the tip of the iceberg for the artist.

Image result for Loyle Carner

RECOMMENDED:

‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’

‘Crazy Dream’ Tom Misch Feat. Loyle Carner

 

MABEL

For fans of: RAY BLK, Stefflon Don, Not3s

Without a doubt, Mabel has been one of the stand-out stars of 2017, with ‘Finders Keepers’ dominating every club, shop and radio station in the UK. Having been brought up by parents that have already had a fulfilled and successful career in the music industry, many would feel that there are massive shoes to be filled, however, Mabel takes it all within her stride and uses her parents as drive to become one of the biggest modern stars in the world, and she is very much so on her way there.

Image result for mabel mcvey

RECOMMENDED:

‘Finders Keepers’ Feat. Kojo Funds

‘Fine Line’ Feat. Not3s

 

Want to get involved? Comment below your January favourites!