In the forty-odd years since pirate radio blasted Dizzy Heights from a tower block, the British rap game has evolved and evolved again as a powerful source of talent, and into a creative ecology of its own – admired by the US rappers it once aspired to replicate. So, this week, we’re bringing you 10 of the ‘hottest’ bar-burning UK rappers, who show commercial potential via streams, followers, shares, playlist adds and engagements.
Since the release of his original hit single, ‘North West’, Brummy drill rapper M1llionz has accrued over 12million cross-platform streams. His style is heavily influenced by his Caribbean roots - he raps with ferocious speed over a droning bassline and creeping snare. He appeared on the highly-revered UK platform ‘Mad About Bars’ for season 5 earlier this month, and his freestyle has already picked up an eye-watering 1 million cross-platform streams.
Blending comedy with hip hop, 18-year-old Tom Austin (or Niko B) takes his rap name from a character in popular videogame ‘Grand Theft Auto’. Filming mostly in chicken shops and empty astro pitches, he carefully walks the line between parody and (perhaps accidental) Mike Skinner-esque social commentary. He has 41k Youtube subscribers, 110k Instagram followers, 950+ monthly Spotify listeners and his top hit ‘Who’s That What’s That’ now has over 5.3 million cross-platform streams.
After moving from Rotterdam to London, Dutchavelli brings a powerful new punch to the UK drill scene. He’s dropped 4 singles in 2020 and, between them, they’ve racked up 33 million all-platform streams. This success hasn’t gone unnoticed, earning the rapper a collaboration with Stormzy titled ‘I Dunno’, which as since leapt into the UK Top 50, with 16 million streams.
If it’s authentic Mancunian rap you’re looking for, look no further than SVMI – the upcomer’s home-edited, headline track ‘Bait Lies’ is produced by Litek (Big Tobz, Bugzy Malone) and remains true to SVMI’s northern accent. He’s caught the attention of Youtube viewers via popular grime channel ‘GRM Daily’, earning over 600k views in 6 months. He also has a healthy following on Instagram, with just under 25k followers.
No stranger to the UK grime scene, Russ Millions now enters his third year of producing. He first made waves back in 2018 with hit track ‘Gun Lean’ and an infectious dance move that was replicated by England international, Jesse Lingard, during a goal celebration. So far, 2020 is proving prolific for the rapper, he has eight new releases, including a seven-track EP, ‘Russ Hour’, bringing his Spotify stream total to over 120 million and his monthly listeners to 1.3.
Grammy-winning producer and songwriter (for artists such as Khalid and Cardi B), Scribz Riley, has recently launched an artist brand of his own in time for 2020. The East London (Newham) native has shot up to 222k monthly listeners despite releasing only two singles, which combine for a heady 1 million streams on Spotify. He’s also snatched up over 12k followers on Instagram with just 45 posts, a number that’s sure to increase with more releases set for this year.
Ferocious female rapper, Ivorian Doll, combines the forces of music and fashion across multiple digital platforms. She’s picked up just under 156k followers on Instagram, 36k+ followers on Twitter, 93k+ on Youtube and her track ‘Rumours’ was featured on 1,300+ videos on Tik Tok. Released in April, ‘Rumours’ has proven her most popular hit – it’s now picked up over 3 million streams on Youtube and Spotify.
South London rapper, DC, began life in the rap game with Twitter-based freestyles. Four years, four singles and one studio album later, he’s emerged as a considerable rap talent across all platforms. An example, his latest single, ‘Neighbourhood’, already has over 1 million cross-platform streams after just over a month. At this current trajectory, it will emerge as his most popular track.
Deji Araoye or ‘DTG’ is the first Afroswing rapper on our list, combining positive beats with non-swearing raps and subjects ranging from politics to romance. Deji is a digital big hitter, with 167k Youtube subscribers who enjoy weekly creative content, including challenges, life vlogs, interviews and music videos. His blockbuster collab, ‘Rover’ is his highest earning with 60 million hits across platforms.
20-year-old South London drill surgeon, Joshua (or Blanco), ups the ante in 2020 with four new singles. His monthly listener count reached 450k on Spotify this month, following the release of a new track, ‘Memphis’. The rapper now has over 40 million overall streams, many of which came through collaborations with fellow ‘Harlem Spartan’ group members. The drill group, between them, now have over 110 million streams.
Do you want to know who the hottest emerging artists are from the UK everyday? Our brand new UK Emerging Artist Watchlist ranks highly qualified UK emerging artists on a daily basis. Click here for a sneak preview.