Why won’t the BBC recognise UK hip-hop?


By Georgina


4 Dec 2013

The longlist for the BBC Sound of 2014 has finally been released, and, unlike previous years, only one act that can be described as rap or hip-hop has made the cut.

Alongside the 14 other finalists, Chicago-native Chance the Rapper sticks out like a sore thumb amongst pop, R&B and indie artists.

The BBC Sound of… poll was first conducted in 2003 as an avenue for music critics and reviewers to discover and present the most promising new talents in music. Widely covered by various media outlets including television, radio and the internet, it’s always been a good source of notable new artists, and has been partially responsible for developing the careers of acts that might have otherwise remained unknown.

In past years, rappers have often made the longlist and the final shortlist, as well as winning the poll. Last year, Dot Rotten and ASAP Rocky were on the longlist and the year before that Wretch 32 was nominated. Other rappers that have made the cut since the poll began have included Devlin, Giggs, Kid Cudi, Plan B, Sway, Game, Master Shortie, Azealia Banks, Wiley and Dizzee Rascal – plus 50 Cent won the first ever Sound of… poll in 2003.

After a dazzlingly successful year for rappers and urban artists in 2013, we’re surprised that no one else has made the cut – especially the fact that the only rapper in the list is from the US. UK acts such as Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Wretch 32 all gained places in the top 40 charts this year – success we haven’t seen for a long time for UK rap – whilst Wiley had his highest charting solo studio album with The Ascent entering the charts at number 26. Even better, Tinie Tempah’s Demonstration went straight to number three making it one of the most successful UK albums of the year.

So Solid Crew, who were hugely successful in the early 2000s, made a comeback which was covered extensively by the media and we even saw Tinie in a widely advertised campaign for Mercedes Benz.

With such promising developments being made in UK hip-hop this past year it’s a shame that such an influential outlet such as the BBC are not taking this into consideration when choosing their candidates for the Sound of 2014 poll. Candidates could have been those such as K Koke, who has gone from strength to strength this year with a bigger and more loyal fanbase than ever before, or Krept & Konan, who won a MOBO for best newcomer.

Of course, it’s not imperative that everybody listens to or likes hip-hop, but at the end of such a good year for the scene, it does seem like a knockback. Some might argue that what with the widespread reporting of gang-related violence and deaths, often with the media linking it to rap (e.g. Veli from Goodfellaz’s murder in September [RIP]), the scene is portrayed under a bad light and this could be one of the reasons.

Alternatively it could just be that no particularly new UK hip-hop talents have emerged this year although we could highly dispute this.

Why do you think… and does it really matter what the mainstream think? Let us know.