The Underrated List – Rap
8 May 2020
Within the last decade, the UK has established a music scene extending further than Pop acts and it’s just as prominent. We’ve seen UK Rap rise, with the likes of Krept & Konan bridging the mainstream gap, and thus, creating room for more rap/urban acts. In a climate where Drill is charting and UK Rap is frequently welcoming international features, there’s a sea of talent to celebrate. We’ve put these talents under a magnifying glass and shortlisted artists – their music does all the talking. Long live UK Rap!
The Kilburn native, otherwise known as Knucks, has mastered the blend intertwining both old school hip-hop in with today’s modern soundscape. The rapper and producer has started to bridge the gap between UK hip-hop, growing up listening to the likes of Nas and Biggie to the UK’s very own Youngs Teflon and Dot Rotten, his varied taste in music has all factored into Knucks paving a lane of his own. It’s tracks like “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, “Vows” and more recently with politically charged hit “Home” that has caught the eyes off many, only establishing himself as a name to look out for in the UK. Knucks’s ability to pay fine attention to detail, even down to his bars and the selection of samples woven in his self-made beats, alongside his consistency and undeniable flair are all reasons why Knucks is one the most important artists in the game. – Elle Evans
House of Pharaohs
London rap collective, House of Pharaohs, are a melting pot of rappers who blend elements of Hip-Hop, Drill and alternative rap sounds. The six-man team – Sam Wise, Blaze, Bandanna, Kevin Taylor, AJ and Danny – are strong candidates of rap, even on their own. Embracing their genre-less style allows a non-stop flow of creativity, panning across their discography and cinematic visuals. HoP released two EPs, Seasons & Seasons II, just months apart from each other with the first being a collaborative project with producer, Nyge. Their national tour in 2019’s final quarter, doubled their popularity and increased their demand! Collectively, they have one of the most versatile catalogs and have introduced an original-but-fresh energy to the wider scene in the UK, combining edgy fashion with their music. – Sweeney Gloria
Known for his distinct style, driving 808’s and all-round charismatic sound, Lancey Foux is one the waviest rappers in the UK and one of the few to have unlocked the US audience. Emerging onto the scene back in 2015 he released his first solo project ‘Pink’, an introductory of what to expect in the later years. Fast forward to 2018, Lancey Foux took his artistry to the next level with ‘Pink II’ with hit tracks including “Dyed 2WICE” featuring Skepta and bass-heavy “Starstruck”. The East-London rapper dropped his biggest project yet later last year entitled ‘Friend or Foux’ – ultimately cementing his name as one to watch. With features from Chip, Skepta, Monkey 67, Suave Sinatra and more, ‘Friend or Foux’ is enriched with heavy trap hits alongside slower psychedelic offerings that take his spacious auto-tuned vocals and melodies to brand new levels. – Elle Evans
Leh go, leh go, leh go!
Len is establishing the new wave for his generation of UK rap, one song at a time. Having released an EP every year since 2018 – Before I Leave, Miles Away From Mars, Days Before Interstellar – the melodic rapper has anchored his sound and his go-against-the-grain style. Len’s musical identity is crafted by his special attention to selecting wavy beats and an inbuilt mosh-pit energy! He began his music journey in a Drill-populated scene, but allowed nothing to dilute his originality. In the past year, the independent artist has rocked stages with his popular record, ‘Mariana’, and proved that he has captivated an audience of listeners. His consistency and commitment to being authentically himself is Len’s unique selling point. – Sweeney Gloria
T Mulla is the name behind many of your favourite summer bangers, from “Dollar Pound Cake” to “DSquared” to his more recent collaboration with Hardy Caprio on “Droptop” – the list is endless! The East London rapper is one of the artists at the forefront of the genre-bending sound, fusing UK Rap and Afro-Swing into one. Creating the ultimate ‘feel-good’ tunes, T Mulla first emerged onto the scene back in 2017 with “Gimme”, shortly followed with arguably his biggest riddim to date “Dollar Pound Cake”. T Mulla’s ability to execute endless bangers packed with feel-good backdrops, catchy hooks and cold bars doesn’t go un-noticed at all! Having already released two singles this year “Insane” and “Tonight”, hopefully we can expect an EP or project arriving soon from the hitmaker! – Elle Evans
TE DNESS is a familiar name to the underground listener. Having occupied his space on a number of UK Rap playlists, last year, his status as an ‘underrated rapper’ has transitioned into a rapper on the rise. The emcee has penned compelling songs, detailing events in his life and rightfully earns the storyteller title – see his Mad About Bars! Through his candid lyricism we are invited into the lifestyle of the man himself and many who can relate. TE dness is thorough in his sentiments, from his debut project ‘Welcome To The Club’ (2012) to his latest trilogy project, ‘April Showers 3’. Outside of his catalog, the rap artist shares vital knowledge of the business and artist ownership which is a testament of his desire to forward the culture! – Sweeney Gloria
With an endless infectious energy, bouncing dancehall riddims and effortlessly sleek vocals, Alicaì Harley is one of London’s treasured dancehall stars. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in the bustling city of London, Alicaì Harley started making waves with her music back in 2017 with hip-swivelling hit “Gold”, followed with her seductive anthem “Killa” in 2018. With the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Toddla T, Sian Anderson, Tim Westwood and Seani B championing her sound from early, Harley’s music only embraces her heritage sound and culture. Last year saw the dancehall star releasing a string of singles including “Rushing” which saw the likes of Kojo Funds jumping on the remix creating the ultimate summer banger! Having recently unveiled her latest energy-driven single “Understand” with Afro-Dancehall heavyweight Stonebwoy, Alicaì Harley has only solidified her name as one of the UK’s best and most respected dancehall queens! – Elle Evans
Che Lingo, the ‘Wizard of Wandsworth’, lives his truth through his pen. The artist uses music as a channel to confront themes such as injustice and police brutality, rooted in the events of his personal life. His poetic flare and fuse of Grime/Hip-Hop is influenced by the likes of Ghetts and 90s west coast rap. He appeals to the ears of many, including Idris Elba who recently signed the artist to record label, 7Wallace. Che Lingo is intentional about his artistry and significant projects such as ‘Charisma’ and ‘Sensitive’ scream that, for the artist, it is much deeper than rap. Earlier this year, the South London rapper released ‘My Block’, a conceptual visual that amplified his inspirational bars. Che Lingo is one of the UK’s greatest ‘conscious’ rappers and his substance must be protected! – Sweeney Gloria