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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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.”

 

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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.

 

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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

LIKE WHAT YOU’VE HEARD?

FOLLOW THESE LINKS TO SIMILAR REVIEWS >

UPON THOSE DYING – ‘DELUSIONS’ ALBUM REVIEW 2017 | ABSOLUTELY AUDIO

LIFELUST – ‘NADIR’ REVIEW 2018 | ABSOLUTELY AUDIO

NOVELISTS – ‘SOUVENIRS’ (2015) | ABSOLUTELY AUDIO

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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.

CARDIFF METALLER’S LIFELUST RELEASE DEBUT SINGLE “NADIR”

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FOR FANS OF: HEART OF A COWARD, NOVELISTS, SHIELDS

RATING: ★★★★★

Meet Lifelust, the Cardiff based four piece that you should all have your eyes on, and I am simply here to tell you why…

‘Nadir’, the debut single from the metal outfit, was released on January 1st, a truly generous gift to stylishly shift us all into the beckoning New Year. Ironically ‘Nadir’, which translates as ‘rock bottom’ or an ‘all-time low’, is not exactly the future that I see waiting on the near horizon for Lifelust.

Just like a predator hunting its prey, ‘Nadir’ pounces on the listener after a tension-riddled build up, and in this case, even twenty seconds is not enough to prepare the listener for what follows. A well balanced amalgamation of progressive metal and hardcore, the introductory riff is sure to leave your ears bleeding and your head pounding  in the most alluring of ways, all seasoned with an undeniably infectious groove.

Cliché descriptions aside, the overall execution is one which forms a feeling of sweet, sweet satisfaction as it is of the highest quality for a debut single and strikingly close to those already reigning progressive genres. Every element, be it the atmospheric leads dwindling behind the heaviness or the throaty melodic vocals that are much welcomed mid-way,  is added in moderation and with clear attention to detail, making the song as compelling as it is impressive from start to finish.

My only critique would be that there simply is not enough of it, therefore, I will be highly anticipating what is to come… Kudos Lifelust.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: ‘NADIR’ – LIFELUST

KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH LIFELUST!

FACEBOOK – WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LIFELUSTBAND/

TWITTER – WWW.TWITTER.COM/LIFELUSTBAND

INSTAGRAM – @LIFELUSTBAND

LIKE WHAT YOU HEARD?

FOLLOW THESE LINKS TO SIMILAR REVIEWS >

UPON THOSE DYING – ‘DELUSIONS’ ALBUM REVIEW (2017)

CONTINENTS – ‘IDLE HANDS’ (2013)

NOVELISTS – ‘SOUVENIRS’ (2015)

Releasing new music or a new project? Email me at aamusicblog2017@gmail.com or contact me via instagram @natalyaalala for review/article enquiries.

5. DRAKE – IF YOU’RE READING THIS ITS TOO LATE (2015)

Image result for drake if you're reading this it's too late

There is absolutely no need for me to introduce this artist. Drake has some of the biggest modern party hits under his belt, you’ve undoubtedly heard them whether you like him or you don’t – but believe it or not, these are nowhere near the best of his work.

If you like gloomy and moody R’n’B then this one is for you.

‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ appeared completely out of nowhere in the middle of the night. Its marketing strategy was to not involve any marketing at all, to simply let the music promote itself which is a very clever concept for someone as prominent in the genre as Drake.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this mixtape is the allusion to the subject of suicide. The album art itself is scrawled out messily looking much like what you would expect a suicide note to look like.

As well as this, the entire tone throughout this mixtape seems to be the many troubled voices battling each other in the artists’ head. The lyrics are irrational but self certain, filled with an inflated ego but anxious, hopeful but hopeless. This clear conflict in the lyrics makes for an extremely interesting and relatable listen as Drake takes you on a journey through troubles which tick in almost everyone’s mind at some point or another.

RECOMMENDED TRACKS

‘Energy’

‘Know Yourself’

‘Used To (feat. Lil Wayne)’

Want to get involved? Comment below your favourite albums of all time!

6. DAVE – GAME OVER (2017)

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For me, one of the most exciting things about music is discovering young artists that threaten to break boundaries and change games. Dave, a rapper from South London presents us with, by far, one of the most exciting releases of 2017, ‘Game Over’ which definitely threatens to menace with the modern rap scene.

I have mentioned honest and real artists quite a lot throughout these reviews of my favourite albums, however, Dave is in a league of his own. He manages to balance relatable and thought provoking lyrics with just enough bravado to be believable but not too much so as to make him seem cocky. ‘Question Time’ especially is a stellar track that will leave you reflecting thoughtfully over intense subjects such as politics and morals.

While it is an extremely accusatory piece, Dave’s execution was dignified and mature, making it hard not to consider his viewpoint on the subjects he touches on. This is why Dave has the power to be the ‘voice of youths’. More youths should be encouraged to get involved in matters like politics without feeling like they are too young to understand or that it simply ‘isn’t cool’. The world needs more role models like this for young people, and that’s the sore truth.

What is most spectacular about the, now, 19 year old rapper is that like most London youths, he grew up around influences that were extremely troublesome but instead of getting caught up in it, he pursued something more meaningful; the piano. A nice reminder that no matter what background you come from, you are in control of your future.

RECOMMENDED TRACKS

‘No Words’

‘Question Time’

‘Game Over’

Want to get involved? Comment below your favourite albums of all time!