British hip hop

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British hip hop is a genre and culture of music that spans a variety of styles of British rap music . The early scene was very much influenced by the New York City hip-hop scene , initially very awesome of American inventors (with British rappers often adopting American street slang in the early 1990s ) before gaining the confidence, American To adopt styles and adapt for their own use.

Hip-hop never gained the same kind of cultural influence in Great Britain as it did in the United States, with home-made British artists struggling to achieve the same level of success as imported American artists did in Britain. The scene began to make a virtue of it, equating profit with selling out , and defending the idea of ​​the British underdog struggling financially but staying true to his dream. After an initial whiff of interest from major music labels in the 1980s , the scene went underground in the early 1990s after record labels withdrew from the genre, disappointed in its inability to cross the Atlantic to make profitable success in the US market . Nonetheless, a new generation of British rappers emerged in the mid-1990s who had the ability and confidence to face the American superstars. Hip-hop in Great Britain began to experiment and fan out - often transforming itself into entirely different genres, e.g. B. Trip-Hop , Garage or Drum and Bass - and it penetrated decisively (from the point of view of the record companies) into the US market.

Nowadays, British hip hop is enjoying its second spring - trying to manage, be popular without selling out, and be innovative but not daunting. While still not as popular as their American ancestors, the British home scene is growing in popularity, and British rappers and DJs are earning respect from American artists and fans.


British hip-hop, like its American counterpart, is part of a sentiment so it usually comes from poor, mostly dark-skinned areas. Most of the music is made by rappers of Caribbean origin, hence the reggae and ragga influence in British hip-hop. Though there are a few white and British-Asian rappers out there. British hip-hop also usually comes from major urban areas such as London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol.


Early years

As in the United States, British hip-hop grew out of a graffiti and breakdancing scene and then moved on to DJs and liverapping at parties and club nights . In and of itself, it's hard to pin it to a founder or birthplace: the scene began to grow in the early 1980s when its supporters predominantly listened to and were influenced by American hip-hop . Meanwhile, British songs were beginning to emerge - the very first British song to be released on a label included Newtrament's London Bridge (Jive, 1984) , but before these British artists there were tapes of recordings and liverap passed from fan to fan . There were also earlier mainstream pop recordings that were mixed with rap - e.g. B. Ant Rap by Adam and the Ants from Prince Charming (CBS, 1981) LP , Wham Rap (Enjoy What You Do) by Wham! from Fantastic (Inner Vision, 1982) or Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren from Duck Rock (Charisma, 1982) - but these are generally pop usages of US rap rather than the beginning of British hip-hop culture. However, there are counter-arguments, such as Greg Wilson's .

Over the next five years, more British hip-hop and electronic music began to creep out: Street Sounds Electro UK (Street Sounds, 1984), which was produced by Greg Wilson and included an early appearance by MC Kermit, which later moved on to that of Wilson sponsored Ruthless Rap Assassins to shape; Kids Rap / Party Rap by The Rapologists on Hip Hop Beat (Billy Boy, 1984); Don't Be Flash by DJ Richie Rich (Spin Offs, 1985). But releases were still few and infrequent and the scene stayed mostly underground and live.

Even though record labels began to take notice of this underground scene, the radio and the public still faced major difficulties in trying to grow the green-nosed scene: that would be a major problem for British hip-hop through the 1980s and 1990s, and often The scene only managed to survive verbally or with the support of pirate channels that flourished (and, more often than vice versa, then disappeared) across the country. Even so, mainstream radio played British hip-hop occasionally and conducive to bringing the scene to the country's greater interest were DJs such as Dave Pearce and Tim Westwood .

The first British hip-hop labels

A major milestone in the history of British hip-hop was the creation of the first UK-recorded label in 1986, which was used to release British hip-hop works. Simon Harris' Music of Life record label brought the underground scene to light, first and foremost with the success of rapper Derek B - the first British rapper to hit the charts.

Building on Derek B's success, Music of Life went on to discover and sign legendary British hip-hop groups such as: B. Hijack , the Demon Boyz , Hardnoise (later Son of Noise) and MC Duke . Their Hard as Hell series became almost indispensable for the clearly recognizable hip-hop fan to listen to, mixing homely talents like Thrashpack and the She Rockers with the attention they received from US artists like Professor Griff . Music of Life led the founding for other British hip-hop record companies, such as B. Mango Records and Kold Sweat .

Moving away from its American roots, British hip-hop began to develop its own sounds: pioneers such as Hijack, Hardnoise and Silver Bullet developed fast hardcore hip-hop , which was currently being released on the European mainland under the name Britcore (short for British Hardcore Rap). Gained a certain degree of notoriety in the short term and is most associated with the scene, but many other rappers and groups didn't feel comfortable in the style and took their influences from elsewhere. Caveman and Outlaw Posse developed a style influenced by jazz, while MC Mell'O ' placed itself well between jazz and hardcore. London Posse and Black Radical Mk II were more influenced by reggae , while the Wee Papa Girl Rappers , Cookie Crew and Monie Love produced more "radio-friendly" hip-hop and achieved success in the charts. Groups like London combo The Brotherhood (despite their explicit emphasis on the British accent) are heavily influenced by American hip-hop. Other groups emerged from the hip-hop scene and brought their own influences so successfully that they were classified so differently from hip-hop that new genres sprang up to describe them: Massive Attack with trip-hop or Galliano with acid jazz for example.

Deceptive light

Despite the chart success of some British hip-hop artists - e. B. London- born Slick Rick , who migrated to the US in his early years - most of the scene remained underground and on a small scale. A mindset evolved - best characterized by "No Sell Out" by Gunshot (Vinyl Solution, 1991) or "Poor But Hardcore" by Son of Noise from The Mighty Son of Noise (Kold Sweat, 1992) - that artists distrusted who achieved chart success without using the hardcore style that is mostly associated with the scene. Silver Bullet's chart success was applauded for its decidedly rapid rise, while Derek B and Rebel MC were despised for being more pop-influenced, but reaped success from unimpeachable lyrics. Community divisions like this made it difficult for British artists to achieve chart success for fear of being branded a "sell-out".

However, things looked promising: Hip Hop Connection , the first major British hip-hop magazine, was founded in 1989 and by the early 1990s the British hip-hop scene appeared to be thriving. Not only was there a solid foundation of rappers in London - legends like Blade , Black Radical Mk II and Overlord X - but many cities outside of the capital developed their own district scenes. Bristol's scene (especially the St. Paul area) brought the Wild Bunch (later better known as Massive Attack ) and major groups like Plus One and Smith & Mighty, and later became the home of trip-hop . Nottingham was the birthplace of the Stereo MCs , while Leeds gave us Nightmares on Wax , Braintax and Breaking the Illusion , who revolutionized the scene by founding Low Life Records . Manchester started the Ruthless Rap Assassins , Krispy 3 (later Krispy), the Kaliphz and MC Tunes . As the scene grew, it became less and less common for British rappers to imitate American accents (those who did were often ridiculed) and British rap became more and more a guarantee of its own identity.

Caveman signed to a bigger label - Profile Records , the UK home of Run DMC - and Kold Sweat formed himself and spotted groups like The SL Troopers , Unanimous Decision and Katch 22 , whose "Diary of a Blackman" was banned from Radio 1 , as they used an excerpt from a National Front song . In 1991 Hijack released The Horns of Jericho (Rhyme Syndicate Records, 1991) on the Rhyme Syndicate label, recently founded by Ice-T . The first single, "The Badman is Robbin '", was a Top 40 hit and the group went on to sell over 30,000 albums.

And yet the prophesied British hip-hop boom never came. The Horns of Jericho (Rhyme Syndicate Records, 1991) was never released in the United States and record labels took artists off their lists, citing poor sales and a lack of interest. Mango Records closed, leaving more British hip-hop artists without a record label and to make matters worse, British audiences began to turn their attention to drum and bass / jungle , a fusion of hip-hop and ragga. British hip-hop was also badly hit by the record industry, which was shaken by the effects of sampling and began to admonish the use of samples and persecute those who used them without permission. The larger US artists could afford the licenses for a few selected samples and still get them profitable for their label: the smaller British artists could barely satisfy their label's wishes for profit without incurring additional costs for the licensing of samples.

Between the mid-1990s and early 2000, many veteran British hip-hoppers put down their microphones (such as the group The Brotherhood (band) ) and got jobs in real life and the scene that was threatened to become mainstream at any moment , remained steadfast in the underground.

The next generation

But when the older rappers left the scene, the second generation - sprung from hip-hop and electronica - came into the right age: The Herbaliser released "Remedies" ( Ninja Tune , 1995), Mr. Scruff released "Frolic EP Pt 1" (Pleasure Music, 1995), Mark B published "Any More Questions?" ( Jazz Fudge , 1995) and DJ Skitz released "Where My Mind Is At / Blessed Be The Manor" (Ronin Records, 1996), which featured a young rapper named Roots Manuva as a guest vocalist who did a year earlier with his single "Next Type of Motion "(Sound of Money, 1995). New record labels attempting to fuse the style and sensibilities of British hip hop with modern dance music emerged and received notice, such as Mark Rae's Grand Central or DJ Vadim's Jazz Fudge. These artists increasingly managed to avoid the questions of using samples with homemade music (bands like the Stereo MCs started playing instruments, and then sampling their own melodies for their own recordings) or looking for unknown recordings, where a mostly cost-effective license deal could be arranged (or where the sample could be used with a high degree of certainty without the original artist ever hearing about it).

British hip-hop began to wander through a renaissance whose style was moving away from the previous fast-paced hardcore templates of its early years and moving into more melodic terrain. Mark B and Blade worked together to record the Hitmen for Hire EP (Jazz Fudge, 1998), which featured guest appearances from rising stars such as Lewis Parker and Mr. Thing (of the Scratch Perverts ). The EP was a success and led to the album Unknown (World Play, 2001) and chart success. Roots Manuva , Blak Twang , Phi Life Cypher and Ty all came into the public eye and old-fashioned legends like Rodney P , Mike J and Mc Mell'O ' picked up the microphone again.

The new generation

British hip-hop is also developing in new directions, with a new style of electronic music that became popular in the early 2000s and was heavily influenced by hip-hop and garage . The new genre was christened Grime , but it is sometimes called Eskibeat or Sublow. Well-known artists of this first wave were Dizzee Rascal , Wiley , Lady Sovereign and Kano . There is controversy over whether grime is just a sub-genre of British hip-hop or a genre in its own right.

Further success followed when The Streets released his album Original Pirate Material (679 Records, 2002) and became one of the first in the new way of British hip-hop to combine credibility and sizeable sales in both the UK and the US. The success of The Streets once again got major record labels to look for the big hit in British hip-hop, and TV and radio gave British hip-hop artists such as Skinnyman the air, as well as their American counterparts.

Groups like Euro Gang also achieved success in the international market when they signed with an American record company. Artists like Mr. 45 are also gaining growing respect from American artists, while groups like Goldie Lookin Chain use hip-hop and rap in their own way to maintain chart success.

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