The Rise of the Alternative British Rap Scene – Why you should be listening!


The alternative UK rap scene is booming as artists such as Loyle Carner, Bakar and Slowthai are reinventing UK rap.

Often called ‘chill’, ‘jazz’ or ‘lo-fi’ rap, the sub-genre feels refreshing as it moves away from the well-known UK Hip-Hop Drill and Grime scene pioneered by Heavy weights such as Stormzy, Skepta and Giggs. Instead, the aggressive beats and fast lyrics are swapped for easy-going jazz-inspired beats paired with a conversational tone and often London accent.

In the last 5 years, the genre has taken off, I believe it’s because each artist has individual creativity, and because they focus less on charting and marketability. I think this music category will continue to thrive due to the relatability of the storytelling as it strays away from gang culture and violence found in grime that not many can relate to. This new wave of rappers use everyday life experiences and personal anecdotes to speak to an impressionable young generation.

Many start off on the platform SoundCloud, the interactivity features are why I think it’s so widely loved, artists can communicate with fans on each individual track. Also, artists can upload music without help, allowing them to be completely experimental and free of restrictions. Lausse The Cat first grew on this platform and despite not releasing music since 2018, he remains influential as he is one of the best storytellers. His ability to create vivid imagery through natural sound bites of real life coupled with his very real but poetic lyrics, allows listeners to go on a journey through his projects.

Another way songs take off is through the power of TikTok for example SL’s ‘Tropical’ and Bakar’s ‘Hell N Back’ that both ended up charting. This is not surprising as the songs are both aesthetic and catchy, making them perfect for short TikTok clips, allowing the artists to gain free recognition.

Although this genre is relatively new, I would suggest it has taken inspiration from old classic British artists from the early 2010’s. I strongly believe that Rizzle Kicks walked so that Loyle Carner could run, as they share a similar conversational tone and jazzy samples despite the difference in maturity of lyrics.

Here is my list of underrated alternative UK rappers that you need to check out and put on your playlist:

  • Knucks
  • Bennadict
  • Spencer Elmer
  • Collistar
  • Sainte 
  • Ashbeck
  • Ayrtn

Check out this playlist to explore the genre more: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7mWA6GhmwAHJypuSnc5mWS?si=1a6d11e7ed3941ef

Rex Orange County’s ‘WHO CARES?’ – Unexpectedly Uplifting!


 

Alex O’Connor, known famously as Rex Orange County has just released his much-anticipated 4th album, ‘WHO CARES?‘, but it is not the sorrowful breakup album most fans were expecting. Instead, Rex focuses on healing and self-reflection through enjoyable melodies.

Listen to ‘WHO CARES?‘ here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2yI4m5Yu2tl8v0It5P9WVz?si=Fkq2xIXtTTSRxSfAjVZuzQ

It feels like Rex has perfected his own sound, dominating the genre of bedroom indie pop. Similar artists include: Easy Life, Wallows and Mac DeMarco.

The short but sweet album of only 35 minutes is the perfect alternative summer album. It presents difficult themes such as stress, lack of motivation, depression and not fitting in, that noticeably contrasts his amiable soothing style. This contrast is what allows listeners a form of escapism as all songs have a nostalgic comforting feel, paired with the relatability of the heartfelt lyrics.

However, despite personally loving most the tracks, I can understand why fans are confused or in some cases disappointed. In comparison to his last album ‘Pony’, the new album lacks the same depth and variety of tracks.

As although Rex is famous for his catchy jazzy pop hits, his real fans know he makes some of the best sad songs in modern music and after his breakup fans expected at least a few tear-jerking ballads they could relate to. However, it seems like the singer songwriter is in a happier state of mind now, so it seems wrong to wish for sad songs for my own gain.

The albums simplicity and Alex’s charmingly awkward persona makes it a very enjoyable listen, and I am confident that it will only get better with every listen. However, there is definitely some stand out songs.

  • Firstly, one of the singles ‘AMAZING’ as it is annoyingly catchy! I have found myself adding it to my Spotify queue and singing it randomly in the kitchen way too many times to be ignored.
  • Next, ‘OPEN A WINDOW’ featuring Tyler the Creator as it has a nostalgic almost 80’s vibe paired with modern lyrics. The fact Tyler is the only collaboration song feels oddly wholesome as he was the artist that helped Rex rise to fame in 2017 when Tyler featured him on the now platinum album ‘Flower Boy’ – so it feels like a full circle moment in their friendship.
  •  ‘SHOOT ME DOWN’ is already a personal favourite of mine as it weirdly feels like a Bond theme song but in the best way possible.

(Posted:13th of March)

About the writer…


Hey, I’m Maddy Pigott, I am currently studying journalism at the University of Lincoln and I thought it was about time I started a blog.

I chose to focus on music because it’s my favourite thing, sometimes I prefer it to people. You will never see me walking without my wired earphones, in my room without blasting my portable speaker or sitting in silence without humming a song that is stuck in my head.

This blog will consist of anything and everything music related: writing reviews, features on new underrated artists and hopefully some interesting interviews.

I love live music and go to concerts whenever I can , it’s definitely the reason I have no money, but it is 100% worth it. My first concert was when I was 8-years-old and watched the Kaiser Chiefs on my dad’s shoulders and ever since then I have been obsessed with the feeling. I am beyond excited for the concerts and festivals in 2023 and I will make sure to document and write about each one.

My music taste is quite varied so expect many different genres and music from all decades. To get a better idea, follow my Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/user/maddy.pigott6?si=6d418ddcda334754

I am very open to new ideas, contrasting opinions and finding new artists so feel free to comment on any post. I hope you enjoy your time reading, please share if you do : )

I am ALWAYS looking for new artists to review, listen to, or promote so please drop me a DM or email me if you want me to hear your music!

To contact me directly for enquiries please email: maddy.pigott6@gmail.com

Instagram: chunes.mp