Since I have not been able to really get out and socialize, I have spent a lot of nights during the Quarantine and Lockdown looking for music to love that I have never heard. I mean, I have literally nothing else to do and I love finding new music, so I have started to explore music from other countries and other areas of the world. Because of this, I have started to get really into music from the United Kingdom. Living in the U.S., a lot of us seem to unfairly assume that we here any good song that comes out of any other country that is not ours, and that the rest of the original music in those areas just is not good. From getting into UK music lately, it is so apparent that is not the case. It has honestly been surprising to me how much music came out in the last 2 or 3 years in the United Kingdom that I had not before a few weeks ago and now love. For example, in Hip Hop alone, a lot of my most listened to music over the last month or so has been from two albums that came out over the last year or so(Dave’s Psychodrama and Stormzy’s Heavy Is The Head). Before getting into UK music, all I really knew about Hip Hop from Britain is that the New York Drill beats that have recently become popular are influenced by the UK’s Grime scene. I guess I thought Grime music mainly focused on the instrumentals and the focus was not really on the lyrics or rappers in general. I can not believe how wrong I was about that. These Grime rappers have some of the craziest flows and aggressive lyrics I have heard in a long time. If the most popular rappers in the UK, Dave and Stormzy, made music in the US, they would definitely be considered very hardcore and probably would not be able to make it out of the underground. I love how open-minded the UK Hip Hop scene is and how they let their artists be as free and honest with their music as possible; no one is holding anyone back and everything is on the table. With all of that being said, here is a list of a few songs that have been blowing up in the UK lately which I really love. Please let me know down in the comments if you like any of these songs as much as I do. Also, if I get any readers from the United Kingdom, please leave some suggestions of songs and artists I should listen to in the comments. I would love to hear more about what I have been missing.
WONDERFUL – BURNA BOY
Out of all of the artists from the UK I have been getting into lately, I have to say that Burna Boy might be my favorite. The only time I had really listened to him was on a Major Lazer track from back in the day, and I am disappointed I have not heard more music from him since he is so good and so different from most other popular artists. Burna Boy has this way of blending Afrobeat, World Music, Dancehall, Calypso, and Pop in a way that is super palatable for casual music listeners and is very fun to listen to. In 2019, his Grammy-nominated African Giant reached top 20 on the UK albums charts, with the songs ‘On the Low’ and ‘Gum Body'(featuring Jorja Smith) gaining a ton of virality and accumulating a lot of streams of Spotify and Apple Music. Burna Boy was also featured on two chart-topping singles in the UK in 2019, one being Dave’s ‘Location’ and the other being Stormzy’s ‘Own It,’ which also features Ed Sheeran. Burna Boy’s latest single is called ‘Wonderful.’ This is the type of song that will automatically make you smile and feel good as soon as you turn it on. It has such a fun and catchy melody and sound that will make anyone immediately start smile and want to dance. Even though I can not understand most of the lyrics because they are in Yoruba(which is a language that is prevalent in the area of Nigeria where Burna Boy was born and where Burna Boy’s family hails from), the sound just makes me happy because it is so upbeat and sounds so uplifting. ‘Wonderful’ is an ode to Burna Boy’s homeland; in this song, he is singing about how no matter where he goes and how far his career takes him, he will always remember and pay tribute to the place that his roots come from. ‘Wonderful’ would be a perfect song to download for anyone who likes Afrobeat or Calypso music, or anyone who just loves upbeat music that puts a smile on your face.
ROVER – S1MBA(FEAT. DTG)
Out of all the songs on this list, ‘Rover’ is probably the one that has become the most popular in the United States over the last month or so. Ironically, artists who made ‘Rover’ are probably the two artists that I have learned the least about over the last month or so(mainly because they are both up and coming and do not have a lot of music out yet). ‘Rover’ was made by rising British R&B singers S1mba and DTG. DTG has an R&B feeling to the way he delivers music that reminds me a lot of artists like Usher or Omarion, and S1mba has a sort of African and Caribbean feel that reminds me of a cross between Burna Boy and Sean Kingston. Regardless of what or who these two artists remind anyone of, it would be pretty tough to deny that ‘Rover’ is a total bop. This is definitely a song made for summer; it has a fun and carefree energy which makes me want to party and would sound perfect at some sort of outdoor kickback or barbecue. It has a very light and fun melody, and it is one of those songs that will make anyone want to dance. On ‘Rover’ S1mba and DTG are singing about not letting a girl who likes them get in the way of their main goal, which is making money. No matter what she does or says, they do not want to get involved with her, as they are only focused on getting paid. I think that this is a sentiment that a lot of us can get behind. ‘Rover’ is another song that anyone who likes Afrobeat music should download and that anyone who loves upbeat and positive-sounding melodies would love as well.
WOI – DIGGA D
From what I have seen online in the brief time that I been into UK Hip Hop music, Digga D is a rapper who is really about what he talks about. He is referred to as the Sniper because he went viral a couple of years ago after he posted a photo of himself online with a sniper rifle chilling on a roof. Digga D does not seem like the guy that you want to be messing with. ‘Woi’ is the first release from Digga D since he recently got out of prison; he and a bunch of members from his crew got arrested late last year for a stabbing attack against some rival gang members. Out of all of the Hip Hop songs on this list, I would say that Digga D’s ‘Woi’ has the most American Trap feeling to it. M Huncho and AJ Tracey(both of whom are mentioned later in this article) both also have elements about their sound that relates to American Hip Hop well, but ‘Woi’ is a song that I could see people loving who are mainly only into the Atlanta Trap sound. Don’t get me wrong, the beat is super tough and super dirty and does have Grime elements to it, but Digga D’s delivery and flow have a Trap feeling to them that I know typical American Hip Hop listeners could get into. I love how smooth Digga D’s flows are, and his tongue-in-cheek and funny lyricism will really draw the listener in as well. I promise, if you are into American Trap music, you can get into ‘Woi’ by Digga D.
I DUNNO – TION WAYNE FEAT. STORMZY AND DUTCHAVELLI
‘I Dunno’ is the song that really got me into Grime music and sent me down the rabbit hole a month or so ago. I originally got wind of this song from a couple of React channels that I love on Youtube(shoutout NoLifeShaq and LayedBakfr); I did not really know what to expect going into this, but these Reactors are always reacting to great music, so I figured it would not disappoint. That assumption was completely correct because this song is such a banger. If you are into Drill rappers like Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign, or Rah Swish, I promise you can get into this music. This song has an incredibly addicting chorus that will immediately get stuck in your head. I get so much energy every time I hear Tion Wayne say: Are you mad? Only run from Fed. Touch my watch, why you wan’ get dead? Run up, you might get cheffed. Bun up the right and left… Dutchavelli is a rapper I could definitely see myself heavily getting into after listening to him. Dutchavelli was an incredible amount of bass and huskiness in his voice that is insanely commanding and powerful; trust me, you will know which rapper he is when he comes onto the track. I also really love Stormzy’s verse on this track. Stormzy is considered to be the biggest rapper in the UK, and he is fresh out of a beef in which he destroyed another top Grime rapper on a couple of tracks(trust me, UK Hip Hop beef goes so much harder than American Hip Hop beef; Drake and Meek Mill have nothing at all on Stormzy and Wiley). In his verse, it seems like Stormzy is calling out another one of Britain’s top Grime rappers, Chip. Even though Stormzy has reached the top of the mountain, his hunger and aggression has not calmed down at all. He is the type of king that will attack anyone who even thinks about coming for the throne. This song is so hard-hitting and intense and fun and it is just a total banger; as I said, if you are into NY Drill music, you will be into ‘I Dunno.’
BURNING – M HUNCHO FEAT. DUTCHAVELLI
Given the context of the artists that made the track, ‘Burning’ is probably the most aptly named song in this list. This is because from what I have read and seen, M Huncho and Dutchavelli are two of the hottest rising stars in the UK Hip Hop game right now. I know that there are other artists that are also exploding right now in the scene, but M Huncho and Dutchavelli slaying it in every way possible right now, and everything track they touch instantly becomes hot as hell. M Huncho has a sound that is totally unique within UK Grime music itself, and sort of actually has elements of American Melodic Trap music. His beats typically have a very hard sound that fits perfectly into typical Grime music, but his melodies are super trippy and heady and they remind me a lot of music by artists like Travis Scott or Lil Uzi Vert. ‘Burning’ fits this mold perfectly; this song is so hard and has such a catchy melody, and M Huncho flows over it so effortlessly. M Huncho has a voice that is perfect for this kind of music; in fact, he has a voice that is perfect for any kind of Melodic Trap music. Dutchavelli comes onto this track with as much gruffness and intensity as he does on every song. His super heavy and dark voice and delivery contrasts with M Huncho’s smoothness super well. I would love to hear these two collaborate more in the future, as their sounds complement each other super well. If you are into trippy Melodic Trap music, you definitely need to give ‘Burning’ a listen because you will love it.
WEST TEN – AJ TRACEY AND MABEL
AJ Tracey is a unique rapper with a very distinct style and flow who has shown that he can excel at making all kinds of music over the last couple of years. He is a British Hip Hop artist that a lot of American Hip Hop fans may actuallyrecognize; he has actually appeared on music with Missy Elliot, A$AP Rocky, and Denzel Curry in the past, and he most recently popped up on Lil Mosey’s newest project. AJ Tracey is an artist that can make music for Pop Radio just as well as he can make music for the streets; his flow and sound can work with any kind of music, and AJ Tracey seems like an artist who has something for everyone. Mabel is a rising Pop and R&B star whose debut album High Expectations went number three in the UK in 2019, with the lead single Don’t Call Me Up’ also going number three on the UK singles chart. Her music in the past has typically been very funky and very fun, and it is typically the kind of music that just makes you want to dance and have a good time. ‘West Ten’ is a song that fits into that mold perfectly. It has a Garage-House feeling to it that is very reminiscent of 90s Club music; this instrumental is so sweet and so groovy and it is impossible to not bob your head to. Mabel absolutely kills it on the chorus on this song; her vocal delivery on this track immediately turns it into an earworm. Although ‘West Ten’ does not have the kind of instrumental one would expect to hear a rapper on, AJ Tracey absolutely does his thing on the verses of this song. The way he flows on this song is so fun to listen to and so catchy. There are quite a few lyrics in the verses that are earworms and will easily get stuck in your head as well. If you are looking for a high energy and light-hearted track to add to your turn up or work out playlist, ‘West Ten’ is a song you should download right away.