Rap has really taken off in the past couple of years. Especially British rap. Artists like Stormzy, Dave, Skepta, Aitch, AJ Tracey, Wiley, and countless others have pushed their music out of the confines of the UK and generated hype for British rap in the US and slowly started climbing higher up festival bills. Finally! The UK is bursting with raw talent and it’s about time our artists were recognised for it.
But while the more famous names still deserve that recognition, we can’t forget about the newcomers that are tearing up the scene and constantly putting out exciting new music. The biggest names in the game were newcomers once upon a time, so there’s no doubt some of our current newbies will someday blossom into rap titans, dominating the game and influencing the generations to come.
Whether you’re looking for your new favourite artist to play on repeat or a fire new rapper to see perform at a London New Year’s Eve event, there are dozens of strong, hot new artists on the block. Sadly, we can’t fit them all here. So here are just 5 up and coming UK rap artists you don’t want to miss.
Born in West London, Tia Carys creates music ranging from bold, fast tracks like “Figure Me Out” to softer, more heartfelt tracks like “Intro” which details a time when she questioned her sexuality and wondered if her dad would accept her. Unafraid to experiment with her sound, her music features singing, rapping, drum beats that force you to dance, string sections, twinkly, arpeggiated synths and more. Tia released her debut EP in 2020 covering important lyrical themes that’ll resonate with many listeners.
The versatile artist was born entirely deaf and later, after corrective surgery, discovered music through her hip hop dance teacher. Inspired by her teacher’s insight into the music, she knew music was something she had to explore deeper. Later, after her friend showed her Wretch 32’s Fire in the Booth, she took the same instrumental and created her own track.
She posted it on Instagram, received bucket loads of praise and the rest is history.
At just 20 years old and with such versatility, relevant lyrics, and power in her voice, Tia Carys is definitely one to watch in 2022.
Hailing from Kildare, a town not too far away from Dublin, Tebi Rex is a hip hop duo looking to shake things up a bit. The two borrow ideas from RnB, hip hop, pop and electronic music to create their own unique, alternative sound. Tebi Rex is quite different to the rest on the list, leaning, at times, more towards pop and RnB sounds but still layer raps over rich, crisp instrumentals.
The group have released hip hop tracks such as “Aaaagh”, but also “Hanging With Trees”, a poppier, electronic track. Their diversity and ability to rap over drastically different instrumentals is nothing short of impressive. In fact, their tracks are so diverse they only have two things in common: smooth flows and catchy choruses. To give you a better idea of their sound, in 2019, they dropped their album “The Young Will Eat The Old” which critics described as “the most fun Irish album of the year” and “full of tenacious energy”.
As hip hop and rap become increasingly diverse, borrowing instruments, sounds, and styles from other genres, it’s easy to see how Tebi Rex could definitely take off soon.
Blending the smoothest flows over rich, soul-inspired instrumentals, we know Enny will be dominating the scene once she gets the recognition she deserves. The 26-year-old from Thamesmead, London proudly shows off her Nigerian heritage in her music videos and covers important topics in her lyrics such as Brexit, gentrification, relationships and more with musical influences including jazz, hip hop, and gospel.
Enny kicked off her career by posting freestyles on YouTube which then lead to the release of her debut single “He’s Not Into You”. This caught the attention of Joja Smith who then signed her to her label. Her track “Peng Black Girls” currently has over 2 million views on YouTube, shooting up in popularity after Jorja Smith performed a remix version live. With huge support from such respected stars in the music scene, Enny is sure to continue climbing the ladder of success.
Her debut EP, Under Twenty Five, was released earlier this year and we can’t wait for a full-length release from such a talented artist brimming with potential.
As his mum was a record collector, Keeya Keys was exposed to various genres from a young age including soul, reggae, jazz, funk and everything in between. Despite his fiery passion for music and the fun he had making music with his friends in school, Keys pursued a professional football career instead. But after suffering from a knee injury and slowly losing interest in the beautiful game, he turned his attention back to music.
Keys took his time, trying to gain as much knowledge as he could before officially entering the scene. Safe to say, this approach has paid off. A jack of all trades, he effortlessly slides from genre to genre, smashing every track he hops on. From afrobeats to drill, hip hop to grime, it seems like there isn’t a vibe he can get down with.
If you like an artist with complex lyrics and impressive wordplay that leaves keeps you on your feet wondering what sound they could be leaning into next, Keeya Keys is definitely one to follow.
Manchester-born artist Just Banco fuses trap, RnB, and hip hop elements, resulting in his smooth, signature sound that he calls “trapanese”. He came up with this name as he leans into a trap sound but uses a Japanese aesthetic in his music videos.
It’s no surprise Just Banco found himself pursuing a music career when you bear in mind his cousin was in Manchester rap group Raw-T. At one time, the group were even managed by Tony Wilson, a Manchester icon in the Hacienda/Factory Records era. A proud Manc, Banco has performed at Parklife, a Manchester festival, and said this was the achievement he was most proud of. From a young age, his passion for music was nurtured allowing him to grow into the artist he is today.
With his impressive, blended sound and now on a label known to support and nurture its artists, it’s only a matter of time before Just Banco’s name spreads across the country. He’s had a great few years with performances ranging from London events to performances over in the US. It’s only a matter of time before he blows up.
2022 will without doubt be an exciting year for rap. And with so much new talent landing on the scene, we can’t stop daydreaming about all the events and festivals we’ll be tearing up with these hard-hitting tracks.
Looking for a new rapper to soundtrack the start of the new year? Check out what London New Year’s Eve events are going down.