The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of UK Rap

For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to rap and hip-hop. It motivates me, influences my everyday thoughts and most importantly it pisses off my neighbours. I used ...

May 27, 2012 Georgina

For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to rap and hip-hop. It motivates me, influences my everyday thoughts and most importantly it pisses off my neighbours. I used to follow American rap religiously. I bought The Source magazine every month without fail – I own hundreds of copies. I loved the rawness of it and the rebellious nature of artist such as DMX, 2Pac, Big Pun, Biggie, 50 Cent and Eminem, but with the approach of the millennium the whole scene started changing. Raw rap artists started singing and talking about shinny gold teeth, Bentleys and swinging chains.

Where had the rawness gone? The content? The passion? The storytelling? It all disappeared quicker than Iceberg Slim. I started to look closer to home and discovered artists such as Foreign Beggars, Skinnyman, Klashnekoff, Roots Manuva, Rodney P, Genesis Elijah and Phi Life Cypher. I was amazed. The flows, the wittyness, the content..they were, as PLC put it, all in the  ‘legitimate lyrical lyricists’ category. They brought rap and hip-hop back; you could picture what they rapped about; whether it was Skinnyman’s Council Estate of Mind or Klashnekoff’s The Sagas Of, they brought the passion, the love and the rawness back.

Skipping forward to these new wave of rappers (some with lyrical content…most without): we seem to have gone full circle before we have even begun. Just five years ago there were more lyricists than (well, how PC can I put this?) show offs. The UK scene now seems to be about money and how big your belt buckle is. We seem to be taking a leaf out of our American counterparts’ books in this respect. Anyone remember the Nas’s Hip Hop Is Dead? Well he wasn’t lying. Just like the Olympic Torch, it was up to us the carry the torch – metaphorically speaking. It was up to us to carry it and take it to another level, but all we seem to be doing now is copying America, whether it’s the dress sense or the lingo. I’ve heard words pop up like wavy, strip, block, cellular – words that the UK never really used before. I now find myself asking this: where has the rawness gone? Our lyrics, concepts and production..it’s like in the UK we have been ‘space-jammed’ and all of the above have drained out of us.

To conclude, I predict great exposure for our scene, but with exposure comes saturation and with saturation comes diluted bollocks. I have a sweet tooth im not ready for our scene to be watered down!

Words: Daniel Savage