Sometimes we mistakenly link the English hip hop scene only to Skepta. We should stop it!. Things are not like that. The UK music scene is in good health when it comes to talented artists. For this reason, we wanted to shine to spotlight on some of the fresher, under-the-radar names, and not, artists who deserve your love. Here are some names that we think deserve your attention.
Octavian, born Oliver Godji, is a French-British rapper from London. He released his first ever mixtape 22 in 2016, which was followed by the Essie World EP in 2017. Furthermore, a few months ago, the rapper has releases Endorphins.
But before gaining recognition for his music, Octavian was leading a very different lifestyle. At 14, he was kicked out of his mum’s house and he lived as a homeless for a long time. Last year, Drake posted a video of himself rapping along to ‘Party Here’ at a Golden Globes afterparty. While Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, flew Octavian to Paris to walk in his first runway show. Suddenly, the rapper’s sleeper hit became a global phenomenon, with record labels battling to sign him on the strength of one song.
Lava La Rue
Lava La Rue is a 20-year-old Londoner who does it all. She founded an underground DIY arts collective called ‘NiNE8’ when she was a teenager with some of her friends, and they have built a creative community that encompasses clothing, visual art, and music.
Her debut EP Letra it’s a well textured, thoughtful mixture of woozy hip-hop and R&B. Rapping and singing over warm, often funky beats. The atmosphere Letra creates is peaceful, but if you listen to her music carefully, she’s tackling important issues ranging from systematic racism to femme representation in hip-hop.
The rap and grime scene made in the UK is in great turmoil and there are quite a few women making the difference. Among them, we can for sure name London-based Little Simz, a 24-year-old rapper, who made us dream with her new album GRAY Area.
The record follows several EPs and albums released between 2014 and 2016 and a series of important awards. In 2017 she won the award as revelation artist of the year at the Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards and also won a couple of nominations for the Mobo Awards for the Best Hip Hop Act and Best Female Act categories.
Added to this, she’s going on tour on the backs of Gorillaz, Lauryn Hill and Anderson. Paak. She also has the blessing of Kendrick Lamar.
GRAY Area consists of ten tracks and bravely mixes grime, jazz, dub, soul, rap and R&B with the common denominator of a crazy flow, sometimes sharp and sometimes very delicate.
Born in Northampton, a town barely known outside of the UK, slowthai takes inspiration from all over the place with punk and grime being two obvious stops on a musical journey that has picked up thousands of fans along the way. The energy he brings to live shows, along with his enigmatic DJ, Kwesington, is infectious. Slowthai is Britain’s most compelling new MC. His brand of hip-hop isn’t exactly grime but it is grimy: pungent and abrasive in sound and content, but charming with it.
The Runt EP was the most complete body of work slowthai released in 2018 along with several singles that became underground hits almost instantly after dropping, complete with dramatic visuals that show his artistic vision. This year has also shared his first official album ‘Nothing Great About Britain’.
The singer studied performing arts at college in the UK, after returning from Angola where she had spent six months performing in a jazz band with her father. After forgoing her university education, she kept herself afloat with a string of retail jobs in her native Manchester while working on her self-coined ‘urban jazz sound’ under the IAMDDB moniker. “DDB” is an abbreviation for the artist’s name Diana de Brito and “IAM”, in a unique way of identifying herself.
She rides spiky hip-hop beats with a drawling and elastic flow that glides between singing and speech. She calls her sound “urban jazz.” This year she has released Swervvvv.5 and Vol. Xperience Live@roundhouse London.