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