British rap is definitely in an exciting place right now, with veteran artists Skepta, Dizzee Rascal and “grime godfather” Wiley on a constant stream of releasing new tunes, whilst newer artists to the scene Stormzy and AJ Tracey are amassing millions of views and streams.
But it’s not just grime – with the rise of the more melodic sounds of afrobeats – a sort of, grime meets dancehall collaboration by the likes of Birmingham’s R&B duo Lotto Boyz – and drill, a breed of trap-rap that first began it’s musical journey in Chicago, spanning to the success of UK crews such as 67 and Section Boyz, there’s a whole host of underground rap that’s just waiting to be discovered.
And of course, let’s not forget about UK Hip-hop, championed by independent record labels such as High Focus, Bad Taste and Blah Records. High Focus recently entered the spotlight through Bristol’s Ocean Wisdom, who in February, released the Wizville album featuring collaborations with UK vet Dizzee Rascal and American hip-hop legend Method Man. Also, interestingly, it was High Focus Records who originally gave birth to UK Top 10 alumni Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. Who’d’ve thought?
But here at Born, we’re always on the look-out for the next big thing, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the freshest new grime and hip-hop tracks that may have slipped under your radar this week.
1. Kamakaze – Far Away
First up is perhaps Leicester’s biggest name in the game, Kamakaze. Amassing millions of views on his original Road Rage freestyle back in 2015, Kamakaze has been on a wave of releasing new music recently with his Wavey Shirt Wednesday EP in November last year, and the follow up Facts Not Fiction EP just last week. ‘Far Away’ features a collaboration with Hackney-born legend Maverick Sabre, and showcases Kamakaze’s cold vocal delivery and peerless lyricism. It’s a calm and collected track from the artist that shows he’s not afraid to express his emotionality and deepen the levels.
2. Ransom FA, Oakzy B – Energy Zone
If you think UK grime only stretches as far as the borders of England, think again. Aberdeen’s Ransom Fa has shared his latest storming effort, ‘Energy Zone’ in his latest collaboration with Glasgow’s Oakzy B. Bringing a unique flavour and infectious energy to the Scottish scene, Ransom is known for his eclectic mix of grime, trap and rap, but ‘Energy Zone’ has switched up the game again, this time drawing from the old-school well to bring a slick mash-up of bassline, grime and garage. Check it out.
3. J Fresh ft. Maxwell D, Plague – Pablo
Taken from Bournemouth producer J-Fresh‘s latest album, Juice, ‘Pablo’ see’s the artist collaborate with Maxwell D – who originally saw short-lived viral fame with UK-Funky banger ‘Blackberry Hype’ back in 2010 – and Plague to create a drill-meets-afro-meets-grime banger. Full of catchy hooks, deep sub bass and weighty rhythm, Plague and Maxwell D link up with a storming energy and flow. It’s massive.
4. Coops ft. Fliptrix, Rexx & Leaf Dog (Prod. Talos) – Pass The Mic
“I want to be inspired by the greats, rather than what’s current,” explains North Londoner Coops, citing Nas, Jay Z, A Tribe Called Quest and Eminem as major inspirations to his music. His latest release, ‘Pass The Mic’ sees the 23 year-old join forces with High Focus veterans Fliptrix, Leaf Dog and Rexx, on a Talos produced beat that draws on elements of 90’s boom bap and refreshes them for a contemporary era. It’s a track in true Coops style, nodding to his love of old school but bringing a modern flair, and it serves as a brilliant showcase for what High Focus Records is all about.
5. Ric Branson – Indigo
North London lyricist and activist Ric Branson alongside producer A.H. Fly first entered the underground UK hip-hop scene back in 1999 with the legendary crew Universal Soldiers. The duo returns with ‘Indigo,’ following Branson’s single ‘Uh Oh’ released in November last year, breaking the silence of an eleven year hiatus. ‘Indigo’ is brilliantly old school, with Branson dropping his signature laid-back flow, and shows that the duo have far from lost their touch.