These are top UK rappers to watch out for in 2023 and 2024 according to UKHH, the as a non-profit online authority on UK hip hop.
It’s a list that’s bound to cause a stir given the immense amount of talent that the UK hip- hop scene has to offer. With that said, we pass over the metaphorical mic to UKHH.
The top UK rappers as reported by UKHH
Yes people. Solomon PM from UKHH here – an online magazine that has been documenting and platforming UK hip hop since the dark side of the millennium.
The UK has maintained a distinct hip hop identity ever since groups like London Posse and Hijack pioneered spitting in a British accent back in the 1980s. Fast-forward to the present and little old blighty has left an unmistakable impression on global rap canon.
Ranging from the dancehall-descended grime scene, to road rap (essentially the UK’s response to gangster rap), to practically dominating the Chicago-born drill movement in recent years. At the core of all of these, however, is a focus on lyricism and flow that has continuously been evolving ever since hip hop’s feet first touched these green pastures all those decades ago. In this (holy) spirit, here’s our list of the top UK rappers you should be keeping your eyes on.
1. Renelle 893
With a voice smooth as cocoa butter, and fresh off an album release of the same name, Croydon native Renelle 893 embodies the future of UK hip hop in a way that few can claim. Renelle is one of the newest signings to High Focus Records, a label that has formed that backbone of UK hip hop for well over a decade with releases from Fliptrix, Ocean Wisdom, Jam Baxter, and many, many more.
Among this cohort, Renelle is particularly notable for his versatility, having shelled down the full spectrum of UK sounds and consistently reinventing himself with each release.
Holding it down at the UK’s northern pole is Edinburgh-raised Tzusan, the world’s first entomological etymologist. Sounding (and feeling) almost like hip hop’s response to surrealism, Tzusan has recently embarked on a tasty musical collaboration with fellow Scotsman Shogun, potentially one of the biggest names Scottish rap has produced to date.
Forming the chisel to Shogun’s hammer, their latest release ‘Lead Wetsuit Schematics’ is a landmark in a scene that never quite reached maturity, both reveling in the futility of Scottish rap as well as providing a road map towards relevance.
3. Luke RV
Representing another corner of the four nations is Luke RV, hailing from a place he himself describes as “the middle of nowhere”- Neath in Port Talbot, Wales. With a distinct cadence undulating much like the Welsh valleys themselves, Luke brings a soft, melodic take on the alt rap sound pioneered by London-based artists such as Sam Wise and Ashbeck.
Luke is doubly significant for emerging alongside a tidal wave of Welsh rap trailblazers, including: grime heavyweight Mace the Great, producer-rapper-vocalist triple threat L E M F R E C K, CDF CEO of Cardiff Juice Menace, and Welsh-language drill pioneers Sage Todz and Marino, and countless others.
Checkout the latest collab ‘Driver’s Seat’ from Luke RV featuring Juice Menace here
Self-proclaimed ‘140BPM murderer’ BXKS (pronounced: Beks) is a force to be reckoned with. While her flows and delivery are cutthroat as it gets, BXKS’ beat choice draws on influences beyond the E3 Bow grime originators, cementing herself as part of a collection of artists exploring where the 140/grime space might be heading.
Having outright murdered every feature she’s landed, there’s much anticipation for where BXKS takes her solo releases in the near future.
5. The Last Elect
In terms of classic UK hip-hop The Last Elect have got shit locked, mastering the darks arts of multisyllabics and deafening kicks in a style reminiscent of pioneers such as Children of the Damned and Rhyme Asylum.
Composed of rapper/producer C. Facts, and rappers C.o.N-Vers and Bxrbarian, TLE stand out among the UK’s emerging talent with the impressive accolade of securing a co-sign from Chester P, widely recognised as one of the greatest minds that UK hip hop has ever produced. TLE are lastly notable for being the only group on this list- friendship still has a place in hip hop, right?
With delivery as eclectic as his beat choice, Reek0 is all about energy and flavor. Dancing between Alt Rap and UKG, Reek0’s lively flows are a menace on a full-size PA and nowhere is this more prominent than in his collaborations with producer IZCO, providing a glimpse into a colorful and bubbly future of UK rap.
7. Blazer Boccle
Perhaps mirroring wider forces, London is often considered the UK’s hip hop hub in terms of events and opportunities. However, England’s northern cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds have long existed as tastemakers in the scene, producing the likes of Cult of the Damned, Skinnyman and Jehst, to name a few.
Hailing from Bradford, Blazer Boccle’s 2022 release Where Dreams Go To Die is a punk-rap explosion of working class grit. Blending Black-British heritage with Northern council estate nurture, and lyrics that read like a Jeremy Kyle transcript, Blazer’s music often realises a profoundness that can only be found in the company of brutal honesty.
Striking the perfect balance between comical and genius, Kibo’s bars are lifted straight out of a comic strip.
Recently dubbed the ‘Victory Lap Warrior’ live on Balamii radio by Dave, Kibo is a man biologically engineered to achieve wheel-ups. Prolific on the cypher scene for years now, Kibo’s debut album FBFR: FUEGO BABY FURTARDO RETURNZ! (SORRY 4 DA LONGNESS) is one of the most awesome full-length releases to come out of the UK’s new wave of rappers.
Part of a host of artists welcoming softer melodic elements into the grimey alps of 140BPM, there is something tastefully old school about this new talent. Jianbo is an outright visionary, blending lyrics and videography that proudly represent his Asian heritage with flows that couldn’t get more London.
This one’s a bit of a rogue choice given that Skuff is a legend in UK hip hop, with three decades of skin in the game. A founding member of Delegates of Culture alongside prolific MC Inja, Skuff’s 2012 solo LP Destroy Everything is a timeless showcase of what UK hip hop can offer.
Now signed to fellow Cambridge MC Dirty Dike’s label Melonskin Records, Skuff’s releases have seemed to pick up in the last year and have definitely warranted a resurgence in attention.
Follow the trajectories of the top UK rappers
Starting out with imitations of American accents forty years ago, UK hip hop has gradually dispersed into a kaleidoscope of distinct styles, hybridising and evolving to this day. This is true geographically as much as sonically, with independent identities thriving far beyond the UK’s urban centre of London. Shit’s healthy right now, and that shows no sign of changing.
To follow the trajectories of these ten ‘ones to watch’, as well as many more that you should already be watching, head over to UKHH.com. Our music is better than our politics, we promise.