Hip-hop is one of the music genres with fans all over the world. Over the years, it has been redefined, and other sub-genres have emerged. In Britain, rap was pioneered by veterans such as Cookie Crew, London Posse, and Derek B in the 1980s. Today, many British rappers have come to the limelight, taking the music a notch higher.
Many English artists have come out to show their rapping prowess and have gained worldwide attention. British rappers have made significant contributions to the development of hip-hop music and put the UK on the map as a hip-hop powerhouse. With powerful beats, captivating lyrics and alluring voices, you are bound to be entertained by their music.
Best British rappers to add to your playlist
Who are the best British rappers? The UK boasts numerous rappers; some are natives, while others are from other parts of the world. These male and female artists have dominated hip-hop, releasing multiple hit songs and winning awards.
In coming up with this list, many factors have been considered, such as chart-topping albums and songs, commercial success, and music awards. Note that the list is not based on any particular order.
Top male British rappers
A significant number of top British rappers are male. Most gained attention in the 2010s and have been on top of their game. Here are notable British male rappers worth recognising.
Rapper Kano was born Kane Brett Robinson in East Ham, London, UK and is also an actor. His debut song was Ps & Qs, released in 2004. He has six music albums and is known for hits such as Nite Nite, Class of Deja, Flow of the Year, and Rock n Roller.
Tyron Kaymone Frampton, famous as Slowthai, hails from Northampton, UK. His music career commenced in 2015 but gained prominence in 2019 due to his politically charged lyrics. His popular songs include Toaster, Gorgeous, Feel Good, Peace of Mind, and Polaroid.
3. Bugzy Malone
Aaron Daniel Davies, professionally known as Bugzy Malone, is a Manchester-born rapper. He began his music career in the early 2010s when he released his mixtape, SwaggaMan. His top songs are Boxes of Bush, War Mode, Memory Lane, and Mrs Lonely.
4. Central Cee
Central Cee is from Ladbroke Grove, London, UK, and his real name is Oakley Caesar-Su. He gained prominence in 2020 following his hits Days in the Life and Loading. His song Doja became the most streamed UK rap song on Spotify.
5. Plan B
Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew, known by his stage name Plan B, is a London-based rapper. His rise to prominence started in 2016 after releasing his debut album. Currently, he boasts three studio albums with songs such as Playing with Fire, Deepest Shame, and No Good.
Octavian is a London-based French rapper who was born Octavian Oliver Lanoire. He has worked with artists like Skepta and Gorillaz and is known for songs such as Lotion Boy, My Head, and Rari. He is signed with Black Butter Records.
Joseph Olaitan Adenuga Jr., known by the stage name Skepta, comes from Tottenham, London. He is one of the founding members of the rap group Boy Better Know, established in 2005. Skepta is recognised for songs such as Shut Down, Energy, No Security, and That’s Not Me.
Aitch, whose real name is Harrison James Armstrong, is one of the best UK rappers from Manchester. His debut album, Close to Home, was number two on the UK Albums Chart in 2022. His popular tracks are Bamba, Scary, Rain, and Taste.
9. AJ Tracey
He was born Ché Wolton Grant in London, UK. The rapper has been in the music industry since the 2000s and gained popularity after releasing Butterflies. He has independently released two albums, AJ Tracey and Flu Game, with several hits.
10. Unknown T
Daniel Richie Lena, famous as Unknown T, is a UK drill and rap artist. His debut song, Homerton B, featured on the 2018 UK Singles Chart. He has so far released two albums, Adolescence and Rise Above Hate, several popular hits. His songs are Fresh Home, Goodums, Daily Duppy, and Throwback.
His real name is Riley Jason Davies, and he hails from Brighton and Hove, UK. He is among the popular British rappers and has received multiple accolades from the British Phonographic Industry. The rapper is known for hits such as Flowers, Hello Mate, and War.
12. J Hus
J Hus, whose real name is Momodou Lamin Jallow, is a London-born rapper. He is considered as one of the pioneers of Afrosing. He came into the spotlight in 2018 after releasing Dem Boy Paigon. The artist’s well-known hits are Did You See, Militerian, Must Be, and Play Play.
Dave is a famous personality in the UK music industry and social media. He gained immense fame after his song, Question Time, won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song in 2018. The rapper has two albums with several hits, such as Meridian, Starlight, and Funky Friday.
His real name is Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., and he was born in Croydon, UK. Stormzy found fame as an underground hip-hop artist in 2014 when he popularised the Wicked Skengman series of freestyles. Some of his top hits are Shut Up, Clash, and Own It.
He was born Nathaniel Thompson, and he is a rapper and songwriter. Talkin' da Hardest is his first song, and he has so far dropped six studio albums. His best tracks include Mandem, Starlets, The Essence, and Peligro.
16. Headie One
He is a Tottenham-born rapper whose real name is Irving Ampofo Adjei. He is among the UK rap artists enjoying international prominence with several top hits. He is part of the rap group OFB. His notable hits are Came in the Scene and Back to Basics.
Samuel Justin Jude Clarke, famous as Ghetts, is a rapper and songwriter from London, UK. He was a former member of NASTY Crew before becoming part of The Movement. He is best known for songs such as One Take, Hop Out, and Artillery.
Top female British rappers
Some British female artists have also stood out in the rap music industry. While others have made a name as solo artists, others came into the limelight by collaborating with their established male counterparts. Below is a compilation of the best female English rappers.
1. Little Simz
She was born Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo in London, England. She gained popularity after releasing her first three independent albums. Her album Grey Area won the best album award at the Ivor Novello and NME Awards.
2. Lady Leshurr
Rapper Lady Leshurr was born Melesha Katrina O'Garro BEM in Birmingham, UK. She rose to stardom after releasing a series of freestyles dubbed Queen’s Speech. She is known for hits such as Black Panther, Lukatar, and Black Madonna.
Shaybo is a Nigerian-born English rapper who started making music young. In 2019, he released her first single, Bonjour Cava, and did a mix tape in 2021. Her top songs are My Sister, Bussdown, Friendly and Real One.
4. Ms Banks
Ms Banks is one of the female UK rappers who are making waves in the hip-hop world. Her real name is Thyra Kigho Deshaun Oji. She has independently released four mixtapes. Her popular songs are Snack, Bounce, and Gangsta.
5. Stefflon Don
Stephanie Victoria Allen is famous as Stefflon Don. She became popular after releasing Hurtin' Me, peaking at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart in 2016. She has a couple of mixtapes and hits, such as Calypso, 16 Shots, and Senseless.
She is a London-born rapper whose real name is Enitan Adepitan. She began music by releasing freestyles on YouTube and gained wide attention after her track Peng Black Girls. Her tracks include Charge It, I Want, and Same Old.
7. Amplify Dot
Ashley Dorothy Charles, famous as Amplify Dot, is a top UK female rapper and DJ. She was a popular figure on BBC Radio 1Xtra from 2014 to 2020. She has been making music since 2001, and her top songs are King Kong, Get Down, and I’m Good.
8. Lady Sovereign
She was born Louise Amanda Harman in Wembley, UK. Lady Sovereign found fame after releasing her single Hoodie in 2006. She has made a name in the UK hip-hop industry with songs such as Random, So Human, and Those Were the Days.
Jentina Chapman is a British rapper of Romanian descent. She got her first recording contract when she was 19 and released her debut single in 2004. Her songs include French Kisses, Wonderful Day, and Mysterious.
Blane Muise, known as Shygirl, is among the most famous British rappers. She became prominent after working with Sega Bodega and other top music producers. She is known for hits such as Come for Me, Nasty, Sour Candy, and Heaven.
11. Weird MC
Weird MC is a UK rapper of Nigerian descent. She is popular for her rap songs, whose lyrics are in Yoruba and English. Her notable hits include Happy Day, Palava, Moving Up, and Fiesta.
12. Honey G
Anna Georgette Gilford, professionally recognised as Honey G, is a British rap artist. She has been in the hip-hop world since 2016, when she attracted people’s attention on the thirteenth series of The X Factor. Her popular tracks are Men in Black, Jump, California Love, and Stayin’ Alive.
13. Bree Runway
Her real name is Brenda Wireko Mensah, a British rapper of Ghanaian descent. She released her first EP, Be Runway, in 2018 after she signed to EMI Records. She won the 2021 BET Awards for Best New International Act.
14. Monie Love
Simone Johnson, popular as Monie Love, is a rapper and television personality. She commenced her music career in the 1980s and boasts two studio albums with several songs. She is a two-time Grammy nominee.
15. Misha B
Misha B is among the top UK rappers who rose to prominence after competing in The X Factor in 2011. The Manchester-born rapper is known for hits such as Home Run, Ugly Love, and Herbal Tea.
16. Alesha Dixon
She is a Welwyn Garden City-born rapper who gained fame in the 2000s as a member of Mis-Teeq. She went solo in 2005 and is known for Lipstick, Scandalous, To Love Again, Breathe Slow, and Drummer Boy.
The British rap music industry has grown, with young British rappers emerging and redefining the UK's hip-hop scene. While many British rap artists deserve a mention, the above rappers have been exceptional in the industry.
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Undoubtedly, the 2000s was a definitive period in hip-hop history. In the decade, many rappers gained immense fame and wealth. Check out notable rappers who dominated the period.