8 Black UK Rappers to Listen to Right NowJan 16, 2023 11:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
The UK rap scene started back in the 1980s and within a decade it provided some of the best hip-hop artists, rappers, and groups. UK rappers have enriched the hip-hop industry with their lush contributions. There is no doubt that it is one of the most iconic parts of the history of hip-hop music. Grime is a sub-genre of rap that incorporates jungle, garage, reggae, and hip-hop. It is a division of music that is unlike anything else with its hyper-speed, boisterous lyrics, and immense energy. These 8 Black UK rappers are among some of the best artists to top the UK Charts and most of them have had major breakthroughs in their music careers.
Stefflon Don, whose real name is Stephanie Victoria Allen, was born in Birmingham, England and Don is of Jamaican descent. She is the sister of rapper Dutchavelli. Stefflon Don's first breakout hit was called 16 Shots. The Caribbean-themed song currently has over 208 million views on YouTube. She’s best known for her songs "Hurtin’ Me" with French Montana, and her collabs "Calypso" with Luis Fonsi and "Boasty" with Wiley and Sean Paul.
Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., known professionally as Stormzy, is a British rapper, singer, and songwriter. In 2014, he gained attention on the UK underground music scene through his "Wicked Skengman" series of freestyles over classic grime beats. Stormzy describes himself as "a child of grime" influenced by the likes of Lethal Bizzle, Bruza, D Double E and Flirta D. In 2015 he became number 3 in the BBC Introducing top 5 on Radio 1. Stormzy has funded the Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students at the University of Cambridge, covering tuition costs for two students and maintenance grants for up to four years.
Lisa Mercedez is a Jamaican dancehall recording artist, singer, rapper, and songwriter. She is best known for her collaborations with Stylo G, Vybz Kartel, Ms. Banks, and touring with Nicki Minaj. Mercedez's career started in 2005, when she was introduced to Stylo G with whom she later collaborated under the Stylo G-led group Warning Crew becoming the first and only female member. Mercedez moved on to become a solo artist and debuted with her first single "Lets Get Drunk" in 2014 which was produced by DJ S.K.T. She took a hiatus from music before releasing numerous singles and her first mixtape BGC in 2017.
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Kaine Brett Robinson, better known as Kano, is a British rapper, songwriter, and actor from East Ham, London. A significant contributor to grime music, Kano is widely considered one of the pioneers of grime music and culture, alongside artists such as Wiley and Dizzee Rascal. In 2004, Kano released his debut single "Ps and Qs", which was an underground hit within the grime community. Over a decade later, he's remained a top-tier lyricist. He is also known for his acting, most notably playing the role of Sully in Top Boy. He was voted Best Newcomer award in 2004 at the Urban Music Awards and then in 2005, Kano was nominated for 4 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, winning the award for Best Newcomer.
Thyra Kigho Deshaun Oji, better known by her stage name Ms. Banks, is a British rapper, singer, and songwriter from Camberwell, London. The London rapper has had a passion for rapping since the ripe age of 12 and has released three mixtapes as Ms. Banks. Nicki Minaj has made herself known as a big fan of Banks, tweeting her lyrics and voicing her support for her across social media over the years. Banks has said that Ms Dynamite, Estelle, Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown and Monie Love are her influences. Ms Banks collaborated with Stormzy, Tinie Tempah, and many more UK artists. She performed live during Lawrence Okolie ring walk prior to the British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight Championship fight between Lawrence Okolie and Wadi Camacho at Copper Box Arena in 2019.
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Aaron Davies, better known by his stage name Bugzy Malone, is a British rapper and actor from Manchester, England. After serving a prison sentence as a teenager, he took up boxing, and additionally began concentrating on his career as a rapper. Bugzy is one of the most well-seasoned rappers and actors in the British music industry. The rapper released his debut mixtape named SwaggaMan in 2010. It was his first breakthrough in the industry and since then he has been only proceeding to success. His creative skills and knack for acting let him make cinematic experiments with his flow and style. In 2019, he appeared in Guy Ritchie's 2019 comedy The Gentlemen, and he hit the Top 40 of the U.K. singles chart with the songs "M.E.N II" and "Kilos" (featuring Aitch).
Nigerian Simbiatu "Simbi" Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, better known by her stage name Little Simz, is a British rapper, singer, and actress. She rose to prominence with the independent release of her first three albums, namely A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons (2015), Stillness in Wonderland (2016), and Grey Area (2019), the latter of which was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize and won the awards for Best Album at both the Ivor Novello Awards and the NME Awards. Her fourth album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert released in 2021 earned her the 2022 Brit Award for Best New Artist and the Libera Award for Best Hip-Hop/Rap Record. Actor Tom Hardy asked Little Simz to remix her song "Venom" for the Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie soundtrack.
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Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
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