UK hip-hop was once the stomping ground of champions such as Roots Manuva, London Posse and Skinnyman. But nearly a decade on, after grime’s ever-expanding success a new wave of rappers is emerging. They don’t have press shots. Most still have other jobs or play out their rhymes in their daily hustle. But they’re united in redefining UK hip-hop as we know it.
“I see this as the first wave – the music that’s been made before wasn’t for me. You have to respect the forefathers. But no one can deny the difference it made when Giggs got signed,” says Marga, an east London rapper building up a buzz on Twitter. “He opened the door for us. And Malik from Birmingham; he’s been doing this before anyone, he’s like a father to us.”
Charlie Sloth, whose BBC Radio 1Xtra show is to UKhip-hop what Kiss 100’s Logan Sama is to grime, agrees. “I know you can’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s like the UK scene has definitely put alloys on it.”
“Artists now are talking about issues that the young people can relate to. They have no time for US rappers and would much rather hear homegrown talent,” says Sloth. “The new wave of rap artists over here has finally realised that not only is it selling a sound but it is selling a lifestyle.”
While they might not have as much time for US rappers any more, followers of American hip-hop will have seen a Stateside parallel to the UK scene, with names such as Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf, Nipsey Hussle, J Cole and Wacka Flocka Flame (who Giggs recently teamed up with on free download Gangster Hop) becoming popular among downloaders.