We Americans seem to have a very specific idea of British people: they are prim and proper and have bad teeth. Needless to say, a lot of these stereotypes are not true. Every Brit does not talk in the same accent. Most of them are not Sean Connery. And sometimes they rap.
Below are a few of my favorite British rappers (listed in no particular order).
1. Speech Debelle
I’m not the type of person who can ever have a “homegirl.” It’s sad but true, and I think I’ve finally come to terms with this fact. It’d be weird! But if I could have a homegirl, it’d be Speech Debelle. She is just so cool and so real that her music is infectious. Her sound is like a throwback to the catchy, unconventional hooks and the loose instrumentals of the 90’s–trumpets and all. Listen to “The Key” and “Spinnin'” from her debut album Speech Therapy and her brand new single “Studio Backpack Rap” off her sophomore effort Freedom of Speech (due out in February) below.
2. Tinie Tempah
Tinie Tempah has made it in Britain, and it seems like he’s slowly convincing the American audience. He just released a free EP follow-up to his weirdly-titled debut album Disc-Overy, and it has been getting significant coverage in the blogosphere. Personally, I don’t like Tinie that much. I think his sound is too “radio” for me. The production on his music sounds fake and phony–like his producers prostituted their uniqueness for the “greater good.” It’s all too “communist revolution” for me. Whatever that means.
3. Wretch 32
Wretch 32 is not your average rapper. He doesn’t rap about hoes and bitches. He raps about working hard to support his son and utilizing his talents to follow his dreams. He tells a story with every song–a short vignette about his struggle. His debut album Black and White is full of these narratives that work well to form a succinct album. Check out my favorites from the album below.
4. The Streets
A list about British rap cannot be complete without the legendary Mike Skinner. Seriously, if you haven’t gotten into The Streets yet, you’re missing out on some of the best hip-hop music ever created.
MP3: “OMG” – The Streets
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog…
Benjamin Francis Leftwich is one of those artists you don’t really expect to be remixed, but I suppose I said the same thing about James Vincent McMorrow, and then look what happened. Here’s a beautiful remix of “Atlas Hands” by Mike Skinner. Very well done, indeed.