That's Not Me: Check Out 5 UK Rappers Not Named Skepta
For many American listeners, Skepta’s latest album, Konnichiwa, serves as an introduction to UK’s grime. Featuring bangers like “That’s Not Me,” Skepta’s sound is guaranteed to break ankles–two-step beats run through oscillators until they’re suitably gritty. Add the fiery energy of rap, and you’ve got a hip-hop sound that manages to distinguish itself from the assorted flavors of American rap in more ways than just the dialect.
But grime is a time-tested tradition, with artists like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal heralding the first British Grime Invasion more than a decade back. Beyond the grime scene, there are other subgenres, deeper in the underground, that manage to stand out from the pack. Here are just 5 hip-hop artists that have the sharp tongues and finely tuned modulators necessary to find trans-Atlantic success.
Little Simz Bleeds Confidence and Charisma
North Londoner Simbi Ajikawo, aka Little Simz, has quickly ascended the ranks of English hip-hop. Her success hinges on her tremendous breadth of talent. She can act, she can sing, she can rap. She’s performed alongside Estelle. She performed at the House of Lords. “Dead Body” sounds grimy in its presentation, but behind its veneers lies cutting lyricism that is unafraid to self-reflect. Most bangers don’t include lines like, “I just might sell my soul, because I don’t feel like I’m a part of the world no more.” Her debut album, 2015’s A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, blends hip-hop with R&B and orchestral swoops. It’s undeniable–Little Simz’s deftness makes her a dangerous talent.
Onoe Caponoe Soaks His Verses in Absinthe
Step 1: Hot knife some hash. Step 2: Throw your boombox into the Thames. Step 3: Give up. You’ll never surmount the waves that Onoe Caponoe feels in the booth. Caponoe’s dubby hip-hop is Adult Swimmin’. Like contemporaries Pyramid Vritra and Jeremiah Jae, Caponoe’s sound isn’t for everyone, but, if your late night alchemy is on point, these beats could grow eyes.
Mugun is Grime’s Hungry Youngblood
Information on Mugun is relatively sparse. But one things for sure: the 17 year old rapper from Coventry knows how to pick his beats. Every one of his singles have glimmered, showing off the different sides of grime. From the uplifting shimmery synths of “Wxvez,” to the dirty grimace of “Wagwarn,” Mugun’s effortless flow makes mince of the rhythm. Keep an eye out for this newbie.
Edgar The Beatmaker is A Side Project Worth Exploring
At 21 years of age, Archy Marshall has accomplished more than many of us would dream of. Under his King Krule moniker, he’s released several smash EPs and LPs that take jazz, trip-hop, and rock and unite them under his bellowing vocals, a mix of singing and spoken word. But he’s released music under other names, too: Zoo Kid, DJ JD Sports, Lankslanks, Archy Marshall, and, for this particular article, Edgar the Beatmaker. The songs from his 2013 EP, like most of his discography, creep up on you. Despite how prolific Marshall is, he manages to get us nodding along consistently.
Dels Takes His Time To Blow Your Mind
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Dels. Hailing from Ipswich, Kieren Gallier has only released 2 LPs through his decade-long career. But they’re worth it. Dels’ metered poetry is blended with an all-star cast of producers and collaborators. He’s worked with artists such as Joe Goddard (from Hot Chip), Micachu, and Sampha, to create a sound that is deeply felt, both in its bass and its emotionality. His music appears on electronica labels Big Dada and Ninja Tune, a testament to how well-produced these songs truly are.
Image courtesy of GastronomicMusic.
Stay tuned to Milk for more rap for the mandem.