The UK has a long tradition of producing great music, and the rappers in the country do no different. So let’s go through the best UK rappers so that you can find a new artist to enjoy!
Stormzy is one of the UK’s most well-known rappers. The release of his debut album in 2017 shot him to fame. Stormzy states that grim music heavily influenced his musical style. Grime is an electronic style of rap popularized in the 2000s.
Stormzy grew up in London with a mom who emigrated from Ghana. Stormzy began rapping when he was only 11, using rap to decompress and release his anger. After maturing and refining his skills, record producers discovered his Youtube freestyles in 2014.
From there, Stormzy became one of the best UK rappers because of his unique flow, grime-inspired beats, and lyrics that inspire people to get out there and do what they believe in.
Dave first started rapping in 2015, and he quickly gained critical acclaim when he released his 2016 album, Six Paths. Dave raps about numerous topics, although he usually returns to social issues that plague his community.
Dave was born in the UK to parents of Nigerian descent. When Dave was only a few months old, authorities deported his father, leaving his mother homeless. The struggles Dave felt as a child are prominent themes throughout his music.
Dave’s style focuses on simplistic and thoughtful lyrical delivery. His music revolves around his riveting storytelling abilities. In almost every song, Dave gives advice and life lessons to listeners who may need some advice.
3. J Hus
J Hus wasn’t satisfied with the development of music in Britain, so he decided to take things into his own hands. Critics often credit J Hus with inventing the afro-swing genre, which is a mixture of dancehall music and African-inspired electronic music.
J Hus was born in London to parents who immigrated to the UK from Ghana. His mother raised him, and she often took him to see traditional African music. At first, J Hus wanted to become an actor but soon turned to music.
J Hus released his first recorded freestyles in 2014, but they didn’t gain much traction. By 2017, his sound had begun to attract listeners. He’s released two more albums, and both of them reached number two on the UK charts.
Kano was one of the first rappers to integrate grime and hip hop to create a rap genre almost exclusive to the UK scene. Grime uses a fast-paced style, and the lyrics must match that pace. Potential artists must have a high degree of skill and musical abilities to succeed in the genre.
Kano was born in London to parents of Jamaican descent. Initially, his family encouraged him to play sports, but Kano shunned that for a more creative path. To start his career, Kano joined the hip-hop group, N.A.S.T.Y Crew, which consisted of artists like Ghetts, Demon, and Stormin.
Kano’s style and music often delve into the emotional side of rap. His music has spurts of anger and resentment, but that often turns into more subtle notes of joy or achievement as the music progresses.
Skepta is one of the UK’s most popular rappers. He incorporated the grime style into his music in the early 2000s, making him a pioneer in the genre. Skepta started his career as a DJ before record producers recognized his lyrical skills.
Skepta was born and raised in north London. Both his parents are from Nigeria, and Skepta holds Nigerian citizenship. His first public jump into music was performing on pirate radio stations around London, raising his popularity in the underground scene.
Skepta has worked with some of the most influential artists in the UK and the U.S. He helped produce A.$.A.P Rocky’s mega-hit, Praise the Lord, which would become both artists’ most successful work.
6. Tion Wayne
Like many modern artists, Tion Wayne’s first step into the music industry happened on Youtube. He posted videos showcasing his drill music, a rap style developed in the UK that focuses on fast beats and prominent snare sounds.
Wayne was born in north London, and both his parents are immigrants from Nigeria. After he started releasing videos in 2010, Wayne built a loyal fanbase that heavily consumed his three mixtapes.
By 2016, his talent had made waves, even across the pond in the U.S. Wayne helped produce music for Rick Ross. Wayne also worked with some artists from Africa. His music likely influenced Rick Ross, whose style changed dramatically between 2015 and 2020.
Ghetts is another early adopter of the grime style so popular in Britain. He began his career in the N.A.S.T.Y Crew, but he left the crew because of internal disagreements. Luckily for us, his independent career produced some of the best music from British rappers.
Ghetts released his first music in 2005, but Ghetts didn’t garner a large following from it. Before the rise of online music, Ghetts released mixtapes multiple times a year. His prolific releases soon gained traction in the music world.
By 2014, Ghetts released a full-length studio album, Rebel with a Cause. The album defined his style—fast-paced beats with equally fast lyrics. From there, Ghetts has only grown in popularity with every album release.
8. Russ Millions
Russ Millions has the honor of releasing the first UK drill song to reach the top 10 on the UK singles chart. His song, Gun Lean, came out in 2018, and it perfectly encapsulates his style. He currently has three top-10 releases, but that’s sure to grow.
Russ is one of the best UK rappers to integrate the drill style. His beats are fast and distorted, giving his music an underground feeling. On top of that, his quick lyrics and unique voice add depth to his music.
M.I.A. is a British rapper of Sri Lankan descent. Her music is wildly diverse, including influences from America, Britain, and Sri Lanka. She also includes elements of electronic and dance music to create a high-energy rap.
M.I.A. was born in London, but she moved to Sri Lanka as a child. As her family suffered through the civil war in the country, they returned to the UK as refugees when she was only 11.
The war and her family’s exodus from the country had a significant impact on her music. She wanted to incorporate elements of music from her homeland, which has produced some of the most interesting UK rap, such as songs like Bad Girls and Paper Planes.
10. Bugzy Malone
Bugzy Malone is one of the young artists trying to revive the underground scene in the UK. Although he still uses the genre, he wants to move grime away from the commercially viable style that he sees as a failure of creativity.
Malone was born in Manchester, becoming the first-known grime artist to hail from the city. Malone’s childhood wasn’t easy—he was poor and never met his father. He witnessed his family members being victims of domestic abuse from a young age.
Although he’s had problems with the law, Malone has channeled most of his anger and resentment into his music. He’s produced hit studio albums like B. Inspired and The Resurrection, and both reached the top 10.
Giggs first started gaining traction in the UK rap scene when he released his debut album, Walk in da Park, in 2008. When he released his fourth album in 2016, it reached number two on the UK charts.
Giggs was born in Peckham, a suburb of London. He was born to Caribbean parents, and their influence helped him during the start of his career. Giggs began working as a DJ, mixing classic house beats with Jamaican-inspired reggae beats.
When Giggs first began gaining attention, critics quickly labeled him as another grime rapper. But Giggs has always rebuffed that label. Instead, he wants people to hear the unique sound he’s come up with on his own.
Slowthai, more than many other rappers on this list, has become increasingly popular in the U.S. Although other rappers have tried to make a name for themselves in America, many have failed. But Slowthai is a major exception.
He was born to a single mother living in poverty in Northampton. He grew up in conditions similar to the housing projects in America. Although he had trouble as a youth, the guidance of his mother helped him escape a bad cycle.
Slowthai’s music uses heavy inspiration from grime, and punk rock. Slowthai seamlessly blends punk and grime to create a mixture of the two, which some people call grime-punk.
13. Little Simz
Little Simz has been one of the hottest rappers in the UK since she released her first album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, in 2015. She released the album herself, not partnering with any agencies. She went on to release two more independent albums that grew her fame.
Simz was born in London to Nigerian parents who emigrated to the UK. Their family grew up in council housing, which is equivalent to housing projects in the US. She often spent her childhood at a local youth center, and Simz credited them with growing her creativity.
Simz began her showbiz career by performing small roles on TV before quickly transitioning to music. Although critics have described her as a grime rapper, she describes her music as experimental, taking influence from grime, reggae, blues, and more.
14. Tinie Tempah
Tinie Tempah had an immediate and rapid rise to fame. When he released his first album in 2010, two singles went on to hit the number-one spot on the charts. The album would later go on to receive platinum status for selling more than 300,000 copies in the UK.
Tinie was born in London to Nigerian parents. Although he excelled in school, Tinie was always more interested in music than anything else. He first jumped into the underground scene, where he recorded or featured on more than 100 songs.
Tinie’s style is ever-changing, which is one of the reasons he’s a great UK rapper. Although he’s still in the music scene, Tinie has also transitioned into the television industry. He’s hosted multiple BBC programs and appeared on shows like Top Gear.
15. Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee Rascal was one of the pioneering forces behind the dramatic rise of grime rap. By the time he was 14, Rascal was in the underground music scene playing drums and mixing beats for other artists. He released his first studio album, Boy in da Corner, in 2003.
Dizzee Rascal was born in Bow, a suburb of London. His father died when he was young, leaving his mother to raise him. Rascal freely admits that he was a problem child, saying he was often violent. Luckily, his mother kept him on the right path.
Rascal sound is pure grime rap. He uses deep bass or drum beats and raps incredibly quickly over the beats. For his beats, he credits bands like Black Sabbath for opening the door to heavier, bass-focused music.
16. Lady Leshurr
Lady Leshurr is one of the most successful female rappers from the UK. She’s best known for her multitude of freestyles, all of which impressed the established rap scene in the UK. She was born near Birmingham to working-class parents from the Caribbean.
Her first taste in playing music came from her mother who taught her about reggae. She highlights the Caribbean influences in her music often. She transcends the normal dichotomy of UK rap—she’s neither a grime rapper nor a drill rapper.
Instead, she got most of her rap influences from American music, such as Eminem, Busta Rhymes, and Missy Elliot. Combined with her Caribbean roots, her music has a distinct style hard to miss.
Wiley was among the first adopters of the grime style, with some people claiming he began the genre. He started rapping in the underground scene before some of his first singles began making waves on the radio.
Wiley was born in London to parents from Trinidad and Antigua. His father, Richard Cowie, was a relatively famous reggae artist in his own right. His father helped light an interest in music, and he even introduced Wiley to rap.
Wiley has had a huge impact on UK rap. Many artists consider him the “King of Grime” for his development of the unique genre. His fast-paced lyrics and heavy drum kicks defined the genre for a generation.
Although he has been involved in the UK rap scene since 2001, Klashnekoff started making waves in the industry after the release of his 2004 album. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Klashnekoff’s style is closer to American gangsta rap than UK rap.
Klashnekoff was born in north London to Jamaican parents. He incorporates some Jamaican influences into his music, although American influences are more pronounced. He helped found the Terra Firma Crew, an underground rap group.
Klashnekoff’s lyrics create images of street life and the hustle that goes into it. He raps about the different trials you have to go through on the streets and how they make you stronger. Although his music has a steely exterior, critics have nominated him for multiple awards.
19. Headie One
Headie One only began gaining popularity in 2018, but he’s quickly developed a unique sound that takes influence from UK drill rap. He was a founding member of the rap group OFB, which helped develop drill music into the popular genre it is today.
Headie was born in London, but his mother died when he was only three. After that, the responsibility of raising Headie was left to his father and sister, which wasn’t easy. Headie had numerous legal problems, with his first offense occurring when he was only 17.
Luckily for us, Headie turned his life around. Now, he’s producing high-quality music. His style is an honest representation of the drill scene, with quick lyrics over toned-down beats. He’s only released one studio album, but it reached number one on the UK charts.
20. Central Cee
Central Cee is a relatively new UK rapper, but his use of American-style trap music has made him one of the most innovative artists of the 2010s and beyond. He released two studio-length albums, one that reached number one and the other reached number two on the UK charts.
Cee was born in a poor area of London to parents of Ecuadorian and Guyanese descent. When Cee was growing up, his father introduced him to various types of music, including reggae, rap, and dance music.
With all that music surrounding his childhood, it’s no surprise Cee went on to develop an innovative new sound. He incorporates heavy trap drums and thick bass hits to create music much more reminiscent of modern rap than UK drill or grime.
21. AJ Tracey
AJ Tracey has been rocking the UK rap scene since at least 2010, although he was making waves in the underground scene for years beforehand. He’s also become one of the UK’s most innovative artists, incorporating various styles into his music to create a unique listening experience.
AJ was born to a Trinidadian father and a Welsh mother. Both his parents were involved in music—his father used to be a rapper while his mother was a DJ. AJ’s real name is Che, and his mother named him after Che Guevara, the famous revolutionary.
Ever since his first album, which peaked at number 13 on the UK charts, critics knew AJ would make waves in the UK rap game. He uses different elements of genres to create sounds and lyrical flow that rappers from around the world envy.
More than any other rapper profiled on this list, Aitch focuses on quick lyrical delivery. His speed is nearly unmatched, which is impressive enough on its own. But when you factor in his young age, his success only becomes more impressive.
Aitch was born in Manchester and became an avid fan of their soccer team from a young age. Although he had aspirations to play soccer professionally, he soon had to drop those to work. Soon after, he began posting videos of himself rapping on Youtube.
His videos would blow up, some gaining nearly 30 million views. Aitch has only released one studio album, but it would reach number two on the UK charts. His mixtapes would also garner some success, one of which reached number three on the UK charts.
JME is best known as one of the founders of the rap crew and record label Boy Better Know. Although his primary focus has always been producing, recording, and enhancing his group’s music, he’s also delved into rap as a solo artist.
JME was born in London to parents of Nigerian origins. JME would attend university, ultimately completing his program in 3D digital design. His interest in digital productions would expand past the design world and into the music world.
He first started making ringtones for cell phones in the early 2000s. His first single that gained popularity was Over Me, which he released in 2009. His unique sound and production style would gain notoriety, helping him enter the rap scene.
Mist hails from the northern English city of Birmingham. His parents immigrated to the UK from the Caribbean and settled in an area of Birmingham primarily populated by Indian people. The mix of cultures and musical inspirations helped him create a sound unique to himself.
Mist first became interested in rapping when he was a young child. He said that his biggest rap influences were Biggie Smalls, Busta Rhymes, and Puff Daddy among others. His love for the American style explains why he sounds more similar to American rappers than UK rappers.
Mist got into some trouble in his youth, but after his release from prison in 2015, he started focusing on music. He started by releasing singles on Youtube and record labels quickly discovered his music.
Fredo had a rough childhood. He grew up in Queen’s Park, a suburb of London. As a child, the neighborhood was rife with violence and gang wars, both of which had a severe impact on his life. Although his parents tried to protect him, they were often working too much to watch him.
In 2016 and 2017, he spent a lot of time in and out of jail. After his release, he decided to focus on his music career so that he could escape the cycle of violence.
Fredo’s style is very similar to one of his rap idols, 50 Cent. He raps with a unique cadence over instrumentals and beats similar to early 2000s gangster rap.
26. Wretch 32
Wretch 32 was one of the leading voices in the grime scene when it first rose to prominence in the early 2000s. He was a member of the grime crew Combination Chain Gang before moving on to other groups with fellow grime artists like Ghetts and Scorcher.
Wretch 32 was born in London to a Jamaican family. His mother, who was born in Jamaica, gave him the name wretch, which usually refers to a skinny person in Jamaica.
Wretch released three singles that reached the top five in 2011. From there, his career only grew. He’s won numerous awards, including Best Hop Hop Artist and Artist of the Year in 2010. Most recently, critics nominated his 2017 album for the album of the year in Britain.
27. Stefflon Don
Stefflon Don began releasing music in 2015. She was born in the UK, although her family moved to the Netherlands when she was young. Her family has always been interested in music, with Don singing since primary school.
She first found fame when she featured on a track with French Montana. From there, record producers recognized her talents and signed her to a deal. She won two awards in 2017 and 2018—one for the best female artist and another for the best new artist.
28. Loyle Carner
Loyle Carner first began his career doing backup vocals and opening acts for other British rappers. When he released his first studio album in 2017, it immediately gained critical praise. Critics even nominated him for the Mercury Prize, which recognizes the best British album of the year.
Carner was born in London, and his mother and stepfather raised him. Although he had minimal contact with his father, Carner still delved into his Guyanese roots to find inspiration for his music.
One of Carner’s luckiest breaks occurred during his first performance. He opened for MF Doom, who had a significantly larger fan base. Opening for him opened up numerous doors for Carner, who would go on to release two albums after, both of which reached number three.
29. Ms. Dynamite
Ms. Dynamite is a rapper of Scottish and Jamaican descent. Her parents split up when she was young, and she grew up in north London. When Dynamite was only 12, her mother developed cancer, and Dynamite had to care for her siblings.
Ms. Dynamite had to grow up fast, which is a common theme in her music. Her first step into the music industry was working for a pirate radio station as a presenter. From there, producers and insiders discovered her talents.
When she was only 21, her album A Little Deeper won the prestigious Mercury Prize for best album. She recorded part of the album in Jamaica, and Caribbean influences are rife throughout her music.
Casisdead is both a record producer and a rap artist. His main focus is developing new sounds and beats for other rappers, but his unique sound and recording style allowed him to enter the rap scene for himself.
He started producing music in 2005 under a different name but soon had to give up due to a lack of success. In 2012, he decided to take another stab at the industry. From then on, he’s only ever appeared public in a mask to help shield his identity.
Casisdead mainly focuses on grime rap, but he’s also interested in dance music and cloud rap. Cloud rap has a lighter sound than grime, and the genre usually incorporates synthesizers for an uncommon sound combination.
31. Unknown T
Unknown T is one of the youngest rappers in the UK rap scene at only 23. His first-ever single, Homerton B, reached number 48 on the UK charts in 2018. That single was released without a record label, but the attention it received would get him signed almost immediately.
Unknown was born in London to parents who emigrated to the UK from Uganda. By 2019, his debut single was certified silver in the UK and magazines like Complex rated it one of the best singles of 2018.
Unknown’s style is hard to nail down, but he describes it as a mixture of drill and modern hip-hop. It involves layering rapid-fire vocals over raw, high-energy beats. Unknown’s deep vocal range and speed allow him to deliver a classic drill sound.
32. Lancey Foux
Lancey Foux is an up-and-coming artist in the UK rap scene. His style is unlike anybody else currently rapping in the UK. He uses experimental beats and vocal distortions to create songs that can’t be pigeon-toed into a single genre.
Foux started his career on Youtube. There, he rapped freestyle vocals over established beats. Once his videos drew enough attention, he released a full-length studio album, Pink, in 2015. Since then, he’s released six more studio albums.
Top UK Rappers Ever, Final Thoughts
So, what do you think of the best UK rappers? The UK is a diverse country with numerous inspirations for artists to adapt and make their own. The result is a hugely diverse mix of rap genres and sounds.
The best UK rappers hail from across the country and all have unique backgrounds. These elements make it easy to find a new artist to love. So, which one of these British rappers is your favorite?