News 23 July 2016
Author: Nathan

9 UK Rap Tracks To Finesse You Through Your Day

Author Nathan
23 July 2016

When the sounds and genre of rap music hit the British Isles during the mid-80s. it wasn’t always clear the success it would eventually have. While early success stories like Slick Rick and MF Doom found fame, they moved to the US and seek a career. But, during the 1990s, rap music in the UK developed distinct scenes nationally. Regional pockets of hip hop produced their own sound and style for example in the cities of Bristol, Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester. As rap and hip hop grew in popularity, special music magazines were founded, radio stations were created and record labels were set up to cater for the burgeoning culture.

Fast forward to 2016 and we have been blessed with a rich history of rap music, with influences from dancehall, hip hop, jungle, grime and drum n bass, coming together to create the genre we know and love today. But with so much material, it can be hard to work your way through but not to worry as GRM Daily have you covered with 9 Essential UK Rap Tracks to Finesse you Through Your Day;  

1. Choong Family – Memory Lane [2005]


Choong Family
, consisting of rappers Afix and Nutz P, and singers Scandal and HT were regular favourites in the early days of Channel U.  Formed out of friendships through the years, the group evolved into one of the foremost forces in the UK urban scene. One of their biggest tracks was the laid back, feel good track, “Memory Lane”, which sampled Minnie Riperton’s soul classic of the same name. Taken from their 2005 album, ‘Higher Elevation’, the track offered an amazing new sound whilst portraying the reality or “urban” London. The resonance the group created fit into all aspects of that wave of Hip Hop and R&B which worked so well in the mid-noughties.

2. SAS – Doin Fine [2004]


In the modern day, we are used to seeing UK and US artists link up on tracks – Skepta and Drake, Section Boyz and Chris Brown and B.O.B and Giggs. But back in 2004, it was massive news when Mega and Mayhem, also known as S.A.S (Streets All Salute) were scouted and invited to join Jay Z’s & Dame Dash’s Roc-a-fella Records, propelling them to mainstream recognition. Never ones miss an opportunity to capitalise on the hype, S.A.S shot a video for “Doin Fine” for Channel U, an ode to their mothers explaining that everything would be fine now they were part of one of Rap’s most powerful dynasties. The video captured S.A.S’s whole album recording process with many A List celebs making stops and cameos.  

3. Blak Twang – So Rotten [2002]

By 2002, Blak Twang was an established name within the UK scene, debuting in 1995 and dropping two albums but his 2002 album ‘Kik Off’ and lead single “So Rotten” elevated his status that little bit more. Teaming up with Jah Mali, the track was a mix of UK rap, dancehall and jungle and showed Twang’s versatility and creativity with music. Blak Twang represents the cutting edge of the UK hip-hop scene, and this was by far his most accessible single to date [and achieved his best commercial success – hitting the Top 50 in the UK singles chart] and this release helped make him a firm favourite with English hip-hop fans as the original, “Hip-Hop Geezer”.  

4. Giggs – Talkin’ The Hardest [2007]

We couldn’t put together a list of the UK essential rap tracks without the landlord himself, Giggs. And while a number of his tracks could make this list, it’s his 2007 release “Talkin’ da Hardest” [which featured Giggs rapping over the instrumental of Stat Quo’s song “Here We Go”], which originally got people talking. Giggs smashed boundaries at a time when UK hip-hop had drifted far from its origins as the voice of young Black Britain, providing a laidback gangster counterpoint to the relentless assault of a more adrenalised grimewave. This success helped Giggs’ popularity expand outside his hometown London. In 2008 the rapper was nominated for the BET Awards in the US. The rapper won his category and walked away with the award for Best Hip-Hop Act: UK.  

5. Klashnekoff – It’s Murda [2003]

Not only is North London rapper Klashnekoff’s anthem “It’s Murda” one of the most infectious UK rap anthems, thanks to its reggae/dancehall sample and hard bass undertones, but also featured on the soundtrack of 2006 film Kidulthood. The track provided a perfect soundscape for the hard and gritty tone of the movie and placed Klashnekoff at the centre of the UK rap scene. His blend of atmospheric hip-hop production and reggae-tinged, reality-flavoured raps, in which he talked in site-specific dialect about life and death on the estates of Hackney, helped inspire rappers like Plan B and Doc Brown to get involved in rap.  

6. Plan B – Suzanne [2007]

Looking back on the career of Plan B aka Ben Drew, you would be forgiven for forgetting where the young East London rapper began. After starting out on a Roll Deep mixtape in 2005, Plan B showed great promise, with his storytelling abilities and creative and versatile wordplay, made clear on tracks like “Charmaine” and “Suzanne”. 2007’s “Suzanne” was a specific standout as he told the story of serial killer Anthony Hardy, dubbing him the ‘Camden Ripper’. The song described how Hardy had psychiatric problems and was able to carry out the murders because of “neighbours who were always out raving”. The song talks about a fictional victim, Suzanne Smith, and samples folk music artist Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name.  

7. Giggs feat. Kyze and Blade Brown – Man A Badman [2008]

What happens when you put three of the hardest UK rappers on one track? You get an absolute banger and that’s exactly what happened when Giggs brought through both Kyze and Blade Brown for his and Dubz joint project ‘Ard Bodied’. Having given the UK a taster of the ability he possessed with earlier mixtape releases such as ‘Hollowman meets Blade’, ‘The Best of Giggs 1’ and ‘Welcome to Boomzville’, it was this release that had catapulted Giggs into the main focus of the underground. Featuring a number of hard hitting “street anthems”, ‘Ard Bodied’ portrayed hard-hitting urban stories in a well-structured lyrical content.  

8. Skinnyman – Council Estate of the Mind [2004]

“Talking about the science of social deprivation” is how Leeds-born rapper Skinnyman describes his music the title track from his 2004 album ‘Council Estate of the Mind’. Whilst many artists often glamorise their lives of drugs, guns and general ‘street life’, “Council Estate of Mind” provides an insight into what life in working class Britain, specifically London, is really like. To say that the topics covered in the track and the album as a whole are rather gritty and thought provoking is definitely an understatement. He drops the realest lyrics about the modern day youth of council estate Britain that had been heard at that time, painting the truest and most realistic picture yet of what life is like in his surrounding.  

9. Wretch 32 & Avelino – The 15th [2016]

In 2016, the world of UK rap is still living strong. As well as artists like Section Boyz and Krept & Konan making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, the team up of Wretch 32 and Avelino for their joint project ‘Young Fire, Old Flame’ at the end of 2015 was truly remarkable. Wretch and Avelino work incredibly well together and compliment each others styles perfectly, whilst the likes of Loick Essien, Yungen & Fuse ODG added further weight to the already formidable line-up of the project. One of the standout tracks was the “The 15th” which also featured UK artist Sneakbo and showed the ever existing bridge between the worlds of UK rap and grime and how well they can intertwine and work together.