Though the United Kingdom is rooted in rock music, British hip-hop has carved its own niche with South London rapper Rodney Smith (aka Roots Manuva) helping pave the way over the last 20 years. Looking for something new to groove to that’s from across the pond? Smith outlined the UK’s top five underground rappers right now. Here’s the rundown.
He’s from Manchester. He recently released an album called I Don’t Usually Like MC’s But. There’s drum and bass and UK deep house on there. He’s from a proper traditional hip-hop background, but he applies it to the UK MC template. On top of the electro beats, you’re still being hit over the head with some really intricate wordplay and astute social commentary.
2. Mike GLC
He’s called “The Godfather of Road Rap.” In the States, he’s what you’d call a “trap rapper” or “gangsta rapper.” He’s telling stories about all aspects of life, not just drug-related or crime-related. It isn’t one-sided and it doesn’t glorify the life. He’s telling quite a lot of intricate, detailed stories about crime and the other side of the tracks. He does it in a way that’s really quite true to a lyrical aesthetic.
He’s quite an interesting vocalist, producer and beatmaker. He’s a chameleon as well: He’ll try different things that’ll bring out a different context to his vocal performance, even though he doesn’t call himself an MC. I think that’s his roundabout gimmick to not be put into a box.
4. Jam Baxter
He’s what the media would call a more traditional underground MC. He raps over more traditional hip-hop beats, more of the East Coast kind of sound. Out of the more backpack-friendly MCs, he’s one of the more charismatic. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.
5. Rodney P
He’s one of the early British MCs to really push forward the UK accent. And not just push the accent for the sake of pushing it, but to have a soul with his flow. A lot of early UK records were British just for the sake of being British. He’s one of the first to show how it could be done with quite a bluntly British accent.