Liverpudlian-turned-Londoner Paul Lynch releases records as Slackk and Patrice & Friends. Lynch also used to operate the invaluable – now sadly unattended – online archive of grime pirate radio rips grimetapes.com. An unabashed fan of UK urban music, we asked him to put together a list of some of his favourite MCs at the moment.
If you talk to most people about rappers or MCs from England, they tend to talk about old grime MCs like Kano or Dizzee Rascal. Or people like Professor Green, as if a bloke who does adverts for Relentless is the best we can do as a country. Even worse, they might think you’re talking about UKHH, which is basically just blokes smelling of stale weed rapping about backpacks.
It’s a shame that people aren’t more on top of things, really. There’s been an undercurrent of rap coming through London for ages now through street mixtapes and endless YouTube channels – the modern-day equivalent of pirate radio in the grime days. I’m not trying to present any kind of definitive list here. It’s more just a few rappers I really rate. There’s a lot more out there than this, but these are the ones I probably listen to the most.
I think Fekky’s the best MC in the country at this point, definitely the most entertaining at least. Two great mixtapes – Come On Den and This One’s On Me – really distinct character and quite funny with it as well. There are a few tracks off the most recent tape that have been doing real damage in the clubs, but to be honest I think he’s one of those sorts of rappers whose verses are almost like hooks, full of ad-libs. I think “Bang” off his most recent tape is probably his biggest one so far, but you should just download everything really. There's also a couple of videos on YouTube called “A Day In The Life of Fekky” where he cooks burgers and goes clay pigeon shooting. You should definitely watch those.
Definitely the biggest to come out of all of this so far. I’ve posted an older video simply because of how big a tune it was at the time, but he’s had a ridiculous workrate over the last few years; there are four “Best Of Giggs” compilations out there and stupid amounts of mixtapes and albums. For a while after Giggs really blew I think about three quarters of London MCs were stealing his flow, that lazy slow menace. He was in jail last year – found not guilty – and that affected his momentum a bit, but his most recent stuff is getting back to his best. I dread to think how many times I’ve listened to Best Of Giggs 2, great tape.
I don’t know where to tell you to start with Youngs. I think my favourite tape of his is Grown Man Ting, but to be honest there was a run of tapes around that time that were almost flawless. A big part of that is the production team behind him. Carns Hill makes most of his beats, and there’s a really smoked out sound to a lot of his stuff that really suits Youngs’ languid flow. (Carns had a great tape with a load of MCs on it too, the second volume of which is out now.)
When I was talking about writing this the other day my mate said to me, “You should just put Blade Brown 10 times and a massive link to Bags & Boxes at the top.” I don’t really go in for hyperbole that much, but Bags & Boxes really was a great tape. Proper classic. For a good couple of months that was all I listened to really. The second one might be even better – some of the beats are so opulent, had me feeling triumphant. You have to buy that one, but you definitely should.
Some people really hate the above video where Nines is running around giving out grills to loads of kids on his estate. Some people in the YouTube comments really take it to heart, man. I don’t really think Nines would care that much, but who knows? This isn’t the best thing he’s done, although it does have a line where he says his weed looks like Blanka off Street Fighter. Anyway he’s got a tape called Church Road to Hollywood; that might be a bit optimistic, but who knows?
This one is cheating a bit, because there are a few people in Squeeze Section but their Anti-Social tape was absolutely brilliant. It’s definitely too long, there are hundreds of features and the mixdowns are a bit ropey, but parts of it are just ridiculously hype. There are very few tapes from London these days that have that grime spirit – loads of energy, mad beats – but this is one of them I think. It’s not a grime tape, though. Don’t get me wrong. The video I posted has loads of gunshots for percussion; that happens a lot.
Even if Colours wasn't a good MC I’d be tempted to put him in this list just because of the pen & pixel brilliance of the cover for Where’s My Money. But I do rate him, been big for ages. I love the fact that the video for this one is basically just him and his crew in a hotel room stoned, cutting up strawberries with a couple of girls waiting for it to go down. If you can find his “Best Of” CD, by the way, get it. It's not on the internet I don’t think, but it was great.
I don’t even know if Yung Meth is still his name because he’s had a few and I don’t follow rappers on twitter. He put out a really good tape called Snizzy last year, though, and this was his name then. When he was called Youngsta he put out a tape called Crystal Meth, and that’s the one you should definitely get to start off; genuine classic, one of the best out of all of these. I lost my copy of that a house move or two ago. There's another one with Fix Dot’m that was great as well. Just don't get LOL. That was terrible.
It’s not often you see a freestyle – or anything really – where a beat with an Adele sample gets a rewind; I don't know about that bit, but for the most part Spray’s beat selection is quite good. He’s been around for a while as well; Realer Than Most was 2008 I think, and probably one of the first London rap tapes that was actually consistently good.
Krept & Konan
Definitely the only MCs on this page who’ll spit on a Sigur Ros instrumental, but I think they manage to pull it off to be honest. These two came out with some really dark stuff initially. Redrum Vol 1 was just brutal. But then they did a freestyle on that Otis beat from Watch The Throne and kind of blew up, oddly. They're probably more adventurous than most UK MCs. Look at Krept’s “Paranormal Activity”; I can't really imagine many people in this list doing that either.