Rappers from the UK are unquestionably leading the global hip-hop scene after Americans since they have the most excellent and established hip-hop scene. British Hip Hop Rappers gained popularity starting in the early 1980s and 1990s.
In towns like Bristol, Nottingham, Leeds, and Manchester by the late 1990s, British rappers had established their sound and aesthetic.
Rap in the UK now spans various genres, including Gangster Rap, B-Boy, Trap, and RnB Trip-Hop, and it is ever-evolving. These hip-hop musicians, ranging from the iconic rap king Skepta to the queen M.I.A., have altered the reach of British rap.
We’ve selected the 24 Best Influential British Hip Hop Rappers 2023. They have improved the field through their originality, talent, and virtuosity.
Table of Contents
Why Rap songs are so Popular?
Rap songs are now the genre that is streamed the most worldwide. Even rock music, which had been slipping out of style over the years, has surpassed it. Rap artists now have more excellent resources and space for development, evolution, and reinvention.
Rap is still relatively new music compared to rock and has always been looking for its identity. Contrarily, rock has often and tightly been divided into distinct subgenres, much like its followers. Many hip-hop and music enthusiasts like rap’s diversity and uncontrolled nature.
Because of the prevalence of social media and the Internet, rap music’s popularity has skyrocketed. It’s now easier than ever to discover new music from musicians all across the world. Thus, the Internet contributed to the global promotion of rap music and culture.
It implies that people become familiar with rap considerably more quickly than other genres in the past. Additionally, the influence of the Internet has altered the nature of the music business. Nowadays, artists may develop a loyal fan following without being signed to a label.
In actuality, the reverse may be true. Rappers often become well-known before any other genre. These performers thus have a greater influence on the labels. Additionally, since a name did not define them, they are free to be who they are from the start.
British hip-hop commonly referred to as UK hip-hop or UK rap is a musical style and a way of life encompassing a range of hip-hop music produced in the UK. It is often categorised as one of several urban music genres.
Like in the US, British hip hop began as a subculture with graffiti and breakdancing, progressed to DJing and live rapping at parties and club nights, and was heavily inspired by and listened to by US hip hop.
Since different ethnic groups in Britain don’t often reside in segregated regions, even in locations with a large concentration of non-white people, the British hip-hop culture was cross-racial from the start, unlike the US.
These locations allow young people to exchange cultures with one another, including musical styles like hip-hop.
In 1986, the first record company was created to release UK hip-hop artists. Rapper Derek B, the first UK rapper to have his music successful in the charts, was signed to Simon Harris’ Music of Life label.
He even worked with Public Enemy to create the album Bullet from a Gun, and he was the first rapper from the United Kingdom to perform on Top of the Pops.
Major record labels first showed much interest in the 1980s, but by the 1990s, when they started to back off, the movement had migrated underground. Midway through the 1990s, hip-hop in the UK began to explore and expand, often evolving into new genres like trip-hop and gaining ground in the US market.
Following the turn of the century, a new wave of musicians like Jehst, Skinnyman, Nicky Spesh, Foreign Beggars, and Usmaan emerged. The early 2000s saw the emergence of a new genre of electronic music known as “grime” (also known as Eski beat or sub low), which effectively replaced UK hip hop in terms of popularity and public perception.
This new style of music was influenced by dancehall, drum and bass, hip hop, UK garage and jungle. Grime is often considered different from hip-hop since its origins are mostly found in genres like UK garage and jungle.
According to Roots Manuva in 2001, British hip-hop is “healthier” than American hip-hop and is more concerned with creating the music than earning money from it or being famous.
Afrobeats in the UK first became popular in the early 2010s, with performers like Mista Silva, Kwamz, Fuse ODG, and Timbo at the forefront. At the same time, musicians like Sneakbo and Timbo were adding Caribbean and melodic rap elements to their music.
The groundwork laid by these musicians would subsequently have a significant impact on Afroswing, a subgenre of UK afrobeats that also included elements of grime, dancehall, hip hop, and R&B.
Because of its often quicker tempo than mainstream music, rap may sometimes have an angry tone. The words in and of themselves may be spoken at whatever speed the artist is comfortable with, and they do not need to be maintained to retain a particular musical note.
Some rap songs have a more aggressive vibe due to their fast tempo. The rap group likely gave themselves a higher self-assessment of their level of aggression owing to the group’s use of angry lyrics, which engaged comparable regions of the brain responsible for controlling emotional and linguistic processes.
But despite the lifestyle of glitter and glamour, these men work hard—at least most of them do. Leading musicians take years to construct their next great release, which often demonstrates the inventiveness and craftsmanship present in the studio.
Whatever they choose, there is no denying that these industry leaders consistently outperform the opposition in rap and all musical genres.
Rappers need to go on tour these days since CD sales are down and streaming income isn’t as lucrative as it once was. Today’s greatest performers travel widely. The true stars seldom have trouble selling out shows because of their popularity and attraction.
Even established artists like Public Enemy, who have seemed to fade from public consciousness, can effortlessly sell out large stadiums in Europe and Asia. Hip-hop has become so successful that current chart-toppers may earn tens of millions on a single tour.
One of the major benefits of prosperity is the ability to partake in some of life’s better joys. Everyone knows the expensive clothing, bling-bling jewellery, and foreign automobiles. Gambling is another activity that many rappers like.
Relaxation with globe-trotting
Rappers enjoy the benefits of their popularity, even when they aren’t being particularly flashy on Instagram. The pricey items are unquestionably lovely, but the international excursions are mostly business visits.
However, we now hear just as much about vacation destinations in hip-hop songs as we do about expensive purchases.
Being a hip-hop star seems like awesome fun; we cannot lie about that. Naturally, the rappers whose albums are selling the most are the ones we listen to and like the most. We most often connect the genre with that way of life.
“Day in the Life” and “Loading,” two of Central Cee’s most popular songs, were released in 2020 and helped launch his career as a best UK rapper and musician from Shepherd’s Bush, London. His first mixtape release, ‘Wild West’ came out in 2021 and quickly rose to the second spot on the UK album charts.
Being part of the UK drill collective “1011” in 2017, Digga D was hailed as a pioneer of the UK drill scene and garnered international prominence.
In 2023, he’ll be at the top of the rap game thanks to his five UK chart-topping songs and two mixtapes, ‘Double Tap Diaries’ and ‘Made in the Pyrex,’ which reached number 11 and 3 on the album charts, respectively.
Riley Davies, better known by his stage name ArrDee, is one of the best British rappers who hails from the city of Brighton.
Arrdee found popularity after being included in the remix of the song “Body” by Russ Millions and Tion Wayne. The song was a huge smash on TikTok and topped the charts.
Ray BLK is a British singer, composer, and rapper. He was born in Nigeria and spent his childhood in Catford, located in the city of London. She was the first unsigned artist to win the BBC’s Sound of 2017, and she did so by winning the competition.
Dizzee Rascal is a musical artist, a producer of records, and a rapper who hails from England. In 2003, he released his critically praised first studio album, Boy in da Corner. Since then, it has come to be regarded as a classic of the grime genre, and it won him the Mercury Prize in 2003.
Wiley is a British MC, rapper, recording artist, and record producer who hails from Bow in the East London neighbourhood of London. Wiley is known as a pioneer in the British underground music industry due to his prodigious work rate and versatility as a musician who has had multiple crossover successes.
Young T and Bugsey are a pair from Nottingham who has become ones to watch due to the tough and varied hip-hop they create. Their music has been supported by Stormzy, Tim Westwood, and many others.
Professor Green is a well-known MC born and raised in Hackney, London, England. After independently releasing an EP in 2008, Green was assaulted at a bar in London, stabbed in the neck, and came dangerously close to passing away; nonetheless, this did not deter Green from continuing his career.
The British MC Lethal Bizzle’s violent songs of violence and street stories of East London sparked reactions and controversy in the early 2000s. Still, they also garnered him enormous fame among fans of garage and grime music.
Dirtbike LB and Young Adz are the two members of the rap group D-Block Europe, located in London. In 2017, they made their debut by putting out two tracks on D-Block Records titled “Love of the Money” and “Large Amounts.”
SL is a rap artist from the Valley Park neighbourhood of Croydon. His sonic landscapes include elements of R&B and rap from the early 2000s.
Gentleman, one of his first songs and a big smash, was taken off the radio when he was 15 years old. SL is well-known for his one-of-a-kind chilled and “tropical” twist on the sound of UK Drill.
Little Simz can seamlessly transition between hip-hop, r&b, jazz, and soul sounds while maintaining a philosophical, curious, and self-assured expression. She has previously published two albums under her name, which have won awards and received positive reviews.
IAMDDB is a young and promising new artist from Manchester and is recognised for a combination of trap-soul and sultry jazz-infused vocals. IAMDDB’s music has been described as having “sultry jazz-infused vocals.”
She has established herself as one of the most remarkable new musicians to emerge from the Best UK Rappers with the publication of her most recent album, GOODRICH VOL 3.
Grime music from the Birmingham area saw a rebirth in the middle of the 2010s, and MC Mist became prominent then, demonstrating that one does not need to be from London to be regarded seriously in the United Kingdom.
Kenny Allstar, better known by his stage name “the Voice of the Streets,” began his career as a DJ on the renowned pirate radio station DeJaVu FM.
Since then, he has presented programmes on Reprezent and his now-famous Mad About Barz freestyle initiative.
Because of this, he now has a regular slot on BBC 1Xtra, where he can promote music from the underground scene in the UK.
Skengdo is one-half of the pair known as Skengdo x AM, who came from the #410 gang in Brixton, United Kingdom’s rap and drill scene. They have an irrepressible flair for splicing their songs with endlessly quotable catchphrases and addicting melodies that reflect the harsh realities of the ghetto.
In May 2006, Akala released his first studio album, It’s Not a Rumor. The album was successful enough for him to win the Mobo Award for Best Hip-Hop Artist in 2006 and earned him a spot as an opening act on Christina Aguilera’s tour in 2006.
AM is one-half of the rap/drill combo Skengdo x AM, which hails from the #410 group in Brixton, United Kingdom. The grittier stories of street life told by Skengdo x AM are, in comparison to other recent portrayals of London, the most engaging.
Poundz is also one the best UK rappers from South London who has made his way to the top of the hip-hop and rap industry and will continue to take the masses by storm in 2023. Poundz’s music has a distinctive sound that fuses elements of grime, garage, and grime. His song “Fortnite” has been seen more than 10 million times on YouTube.
Phineas Waweru and Joshua Somerkun are the true identities behind the hip-hop and rap combo known as A1 X J1, from the UK. They made their debut with the track “Latest Trends,” which was published in February 2021.
The song was a major success and peaked at number 2 on the charts in the UK, which led to collaborations with other rappers, such as Aitch.
Silky is the finest British rapper and musical artist who is very discreet about his personal life and prefers to keep it out of the limelight. Multiple hits are already under his belt, even though he conceals his true name, birthdate, and other personal information.
Silky’s music is lively, real, and simple to grasp – even for individuals who don’t necessarily connect to the experiences he tells via his lyrics.
Cristale, who is originally from Brixton, is more than your standard drill rapper since she has a strong Caribbean background and takes inspiration from grime, spoken word, and soul.
K Koke was allowed to perform on BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2010 when he gave a freestyle titled “Fire In The Booth” for DJ Charlie Sloth. This freestyle has since become one of the most well-known examples of his work and has over 11 million views on YouTube.
Lowkey is quickly recognised as one of the best UK rappers and the most outspoken performers in the British hip-hop industry. Born in London, he rose to prominence after releasing the mixtape Key to the Game in 2003, participating in the rap group Poisonous Poets for a while, and performing in support roles for Canibus, Dead Prez, and Immortal Technique.
Rap and hip-hop music are now among the most well-known genres in the world, because of their enormous subculture, well-known British rappers, excellent lyrical substance, and sometimes thought-provoking, upbeat, and occasionally sad tales.
Hip-hop and rap originated in the 1970s and gave rise to a wide variety of subgenres that enhanced the scene. Above we mentioned the top 24 Best Influential British Hip Hop Rappers in 2023. I really hope you will like this article; if you do, please share it with other people that love hip-hop.