Rappers from the U.K. are undoubtedly ruling the hip-hop world after America as they have the best and most historic hip-hop scene. British rappers began growing in prominence in the early 80s, and 90s. By the late 90s, U.K. rappers had developed their unique sound and style in cities such as Bristol, Nottingham, Leeds, and Manchester.
Now, U.K. rap has a wide range of genres, including Gangster Rap, B-Boy, Trap, RnB Trip-Hop, and it continues to grow. From the legendary rap king Skepta to the queen M.I.A. these hip-hop artists have revolutionized the scope of British rap. Here, we have narrowed down the top 20 U.K. rappers who have enriched the industry with their uniqueness, skill, and virtuosity.
Choosing music as a career is hard but getting fame and rising in the mainstream at the very beginning is even more challenging. All hail to Giggs, who managed to earn both in a short period.
He started his music journey in 2008 and got the B.E.T. Award for Best U.K. Act in the same year. It was his unique voice and sensational music that earned him international recognition.
Giggs became one of the most famous British rappers that set a new bar in the British music industry. His highest-charting album includes “Landlord,” which was released in 2016 as his fourth album.
Currently signed to Black Butter Records, our beloved J Hus is a multitalented artist who successfully manages various careers like singing, rapping, songwriting, and modeling.
J Hus gained attention in 2015 when he released his song “Dem Boy Paigon.” His single “Did You See” secured the ninth position on the U.K. Singles Chart and earned certified Platinum, which became proof of his capabilities as an artist. Talking about success, his debut album, Common Sense, ranked Number six on the U.K. Albums Chart.
If you are a fan of the eclectic style of British rap, then Dizzee should be on your list. Famous by the stage name of “Dizzee Rascal,” Dylan Kwabena Mills is a songwriter, rapper, MC, and record producer.
His first album, “Boy in da Corner,” is declared a pure blessing for ears by his fans. His songs are a perfect mixture containing hip hop, U.K. garage, R&B, and bassline mixtures.
The public widely loves his songs and albums, especially his Grime rapping. Dizzee’s songs and albums have earned several titles and awards throughout the years, including the Sidewinder Award for Best Newcomer MC the prestigious Mercury Prize. His songs are also listed in the U.K. albums chart, U.K. singles chart, and U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
AJ Tracey is a sensational rapper whose songs can force you to dance. He managed to hit mainstream audiences with his phenomenal music in 2016. Tracey’s single “Butterflies” featuring British rapper Not3s attracted a wider group of listeners and got ranked in the top 20 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Starting at the early age of six, Tracey stepped into a professional career in June 2011, under the stage name of Looney and Loonz. His first mixtape, Didn’t Make the Cut, was released on 13 September 2012.
Stormzy is one of rap’s most prominent names whose skills and talent were also acknowledged by B.B.C., and they gave him the title of “the artist to look out for” in the “B.B.C.’s Sound of 2015” listing.
Starting his career officially in July 2014,Stormzy released his debut E.P. “Dreamers Disease” independently and got instant media and public attention, huge career success for Stormzy.Later that same year, he won “Best Grime Act” at the MOBO Awards.
With no background in music, he started rapping at 11 to polish his talent and skills. All his hard work pays off when he achieves number #1 four times on the U.K. Singles Chart. He also acquired number 5 in the listing of “Top 10 of the annual Powerlist” in 2020.
Dave does not follow the common trend of music; instead, he loves to create his trends in music. That’s why he is categorized among “the most recognized British rappers” by the media and public.
Santan is among the very few artists whose lyrics hit differently. Over the years, Dave’s songs and music earned him many famous awards like Album of the Year at the 2020 Brit Awards, Ivor Novello Award, and the Mercury Prize.
In 2019, after conquering the world of music, he made his first T.V. appearance by acting in the third season of the Netflix series “Top Boy.”
Being the younger brother of renowned rapper Skepta, it was tough for Jme to make his own identity in the music world. But bravo to Jme, who contrived to win the public’s hearts with his songs and creativity.
He also worked with his big brother, and they are the founders of the crew and label “Boy Better Know.” Adenuga (Jme) also co-owns his T-shirt chain, bears his labels, and nightclub, Straight Outta Bethnal. His album “History” secured #162 on the U.K. Albums Chart. His other album, “Integrity,” reached #12 on the U.K. Albums Chart.
Born to Nigerian parents, Skepta adds a classic fusion touch to British rap. His swaggering confidence and unique style have propelled him from underground success to being undoubtedly the most talked about male artist of our time.
His album, named “Konnichiwa” (released in 2016), is hailed and applauded far and nationally and received the Mercury Prize.
He also appeared in the film “Anti-Social” in 2015. Skepta’s music career has been very successful, and his songs have earned a spot on “top 10 of the U.K. Albums Chart” many times.
Malone is undoubtfully the first commercially flourishing grime artist who has risen to the stage of British music recently. Davis grew up with a criminal background and changed his life by choosing music as a career.
His single “Hip Hop Heavy Metal” received a positive response on online platforms and presently has over 1.3 million views on YouTube alone. His first E.P., “Walk with Me,” ranked #8 on the U.K. Albums Chart. Malone’s Mancunian accent makes his vocal style unique.
He uses his lyrics and music to raise his voice on social issues like poverty and emotional suffering. Malone also owns the record label “Ill-Gotten Records.”
Grim music and culture strongly influence British rap, and Kano is among the few artists who played a significant role in spreading grime music. His fifth album, “Made in the Manor,” showed the world his true talent and is his best-selling album so far.
He announced his entry into the music world through his first solo track in 2012 titled “Boys Love Girls.” After receiving approval from the public, he released his début album “Home Sweet Home.” which reached #36 on the U.K.’s top 40 charts. Apart from his music career, he also played the character of “Sally” in the British crime drama “Top Boy.”
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the rapper, songwriter and record producer is U.K.’s top rapper and rock musician. Due to his unique vocals and “signature rogue monotone drawl,” he has been called “one of the last real street niggas still making music” by producers and music critics.
His debut album “Issa Album” reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and his single “Rockstar” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a viral success. 21 Savage’s album “I Am > I Was” reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 with 18,000 album sales and became his first No. 1 album in the United States.
He is also a philanthropist and has created many campaigns such as the 21 Savage Bank Account Campaign, Issa Back to School Drive, a free online financial literacy program.
With more than three top-five charting songs and millions of record sales from his debut album “Black and White,” Wretch 32 took his first step to stardom and boomed the music industry at the early start of his career.
His album’s third single, “Don’t Go,” featuring Josh Kumra, became Wretch’s most successful single and ranked #1 on the U.K. Singles Chart. He also partnered with Coca-Cola and Adidas as lead faces of their 2012 London Olympic Torch Relay. Wretch 32 also got the ‘Best International Artist at the “B.E.T. Awards.”
Very few managed to make a perfect cocktail of music by combining different genres of music like punk rap, Hip hop, political hip hop, and grime, but Slowthai is the master at it.
Although Slowthai started making music in college, his first album was released in 2017 as he wanted his music to be perfect before coming in front of the public.His first album, “Nothing Great About Britain,” proved his decision right as this album became a hit among the masses and ranked #9 on the Official Charts.
The album also got nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. He also received the “Hero of the Year award” at the N.M.E. Awards. He released a song named “Feel Away” as a tribute to his late brother on his brother’s death anniversary.
Little Simz rose to the music stage as an independent female rapper who gave her fans the music they wanted to hear. Originating from Islington, London, with an ethical background of Yoruba, Smiz completed her degree before coming into the music industry.
She loves to experiment with her music, which is why her songs have a different fan base. Her album Grey Area after gaining approval from the public, got nominated for the “Mercury Prize.” Simz also enjoyed working with renowned artists like Kano, Estelle, Ms. Dynamite, and Tinie Tempah.
Besides rapping, she also tried her luck in acting and worked on notable projects like Spirit Warriors, Youngers, Afrofuturism, Top Boy, and Venom – Let There Be Carnage.
Like her name, her songs also cause an explosion of emotions in mind. Specializing in R&B, hip hop, grime, and 2-step garage, she remains number one in the game and has received several awards, including two Brit Awards, Mercury Music Prize, and three MOBO Awards.
She signed to Polydor Records. 2002 was the lucky year for her fans because she released her debut album, “A Little Deeper.” Because of her energetic performance on the stage, she was invited to the 2002 Commonwealth Games to perform at the closing ceremony. People in the United Kingdom are lucky to have Goddes of rap in their midst.
Like him or not, he is the rapper who knows how to melt the heart of his listeners. Growing up in a two-bedroom flat in Hackney, London, Green always desired to become a lawyer.
But life’s unpleasant courses turned him into a rap singer (lucky for his fans). He mounted up to success by winning a rap battle tournament in 2008. Green’s debut album “Alive Till I’m Dead,” hit differently in public and ranked #3 in the U.K.
Being a perfect wordsmith, he wrote about his life in an autobiography titled “Lucky,” which became a Times bestseller. “CALM,” a suicide prevention charity, is one of Green’s charities that he supports.
His unique music and captivating style caught his viewers’ attention, and his debut album, I Am Chipmunk, ranked #10 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Originally from a Jamaican immigrant family, this U.K.-based songwriter and rapper moves between grime and hip hop.
His songs are the kind you cannot ignore. So, when his second album came out, it broke records in the music industry and ranked #2 on the U.K. Singles Chart. He won Best U.K. Newcomer in 2008 and Best Hip-Hop act in 2008 and 2009 at the MOBO Awards.
He also shows his dominance on online platforms where his song “Rack City” acquired more than 70,000 views and 10,000 likes within the first 48 hours of release to his official YouTube account.
Fans praise Slick Rick for his unique smooth, British-tinged flow style and art of hip hop storytelling with a touch of funk music. He is a renowned English rapper and record producer who came to the limelight with his hit singles “The Show” and “La Di Da Di.”
You can feel a whole burst of feeling while listening to his songs which make him one of the most sampled hip-hop artists of all time. Rick has been commemorated on the VH1 Hip Hop Honors show and in the Bronx Walk of Fame.
It is not wrong to say that he is one of the most influential artists in British music history. One of hip-hop’s wittiest and talented, Rodney Smith, rose from the U.K.’s underground hip hop scene to acquire mainstream sensation in the late 90s.
Many great albums like “Run Come Save Me” “Brand New Second Hand” includes to his credit. His music usually contains a concoction mix of electronic, Alternative hip hop, and trip-hop.
M.I.A. has the privilege of being among the few artists nominated for the Brit Award, Grammy Award, Academy Award, Alternative Turner Award, The Mercury Award, a MOBO Award, MTV Europe Music Award, and The MTV Video Music Award. Hailing from London, M.I.A. is a well-known singer, rapper, activist, and record producer. She is also ranked in the “100 most influential people” of 2009. M.I.A.’s songs include a fusion of hip hop, progressive rap, and electronic. Her music perfectly combines South Asian culture with a western twist.