The U.K. and Ireland’s Breakthrough Hip Hop Journey


The once radiating metropolis filled with the luminescent textures from the brightness of the city lights and bustling aura of the people conveys throughout the nocturnal void of the night. From the enclave of merchant processions and nightly shamanic gatherings to the breaking exposure of light, the life of the citizenry of a typical western and northern European city never ceases to dazzle the surrounding specters. In the break of daylight, the sky is covered by the dull blankness of the chemical garment. Each day of the city traveler is sedated by the murky haziness of London’s gray skies or Dublin’s chilly breeze. Although on certain days, Spring breaks through the floating soliloquy and sheds life into the cities, each day is mustered by the strength of the people and the everyday lifestyles of the controlled cosmopolitans.

European culture has always been susceptible to capturing the essence of American art and managed to contort it from their own perspective. As Germany took Techno music and claimed their own eminence over the scene, the U.K. and Ireland were cultivating their own manifestation of the dominant genre of its time, Rap music. Once the genre prevailed as the hailing force over popular and commercial music, nearly every region of the U.S. and every province of the world took their own stab at the movement. After Rap music reached its highest point and still is, before and after 2010, proficient artists from around the world presented their chauvinism by becoming the plastered image of their version of the genre.

The U.K. managed to find their voice in the evolution with their manifestation of Grime music developed in the early 2000’s. Grime held the platform for danceable mixes that carried the English tongue of Reggaeton and Hip Hop. Initially, the genre was a risen platform held by the intransigent colored citizens of the U.K that felt their voice wasn’t being amplified enough like their western brothers in the U.S. Musicians of the genre managed to hold shows and record deals after being culled from the begrimed ashes of the cities and into the space of mainstream attention.


The modern reigning figure for this movement is London Grime Rapper, Skepta. His brazen attitude held the attention of music marketing agencies and audiences from the western world. With his music, the sounds are all too familiar by the youthful ear with its brash snare peddling and boisterous baselines but added a hint of the wallowing London aura, accentuated by his strong English accent. This was miraculous progress that led London to become one of the essential abodes for aspiring musicians to keep up with the times. As Grime music traveled through the commercial landscape, another coterie of young creatives marked their territory in western sound. After 2013’s success of 6 Feet Beneath The Moon by adolescent talent King Krule, much of his genetic skills merged with his modicum of urban artists to create a sound that resonated with London’s seasonal gloom. 2014 and beyond introduced the works from these artists by the names of Edgar the Beatmaker, Jamie Isaac, Maxwell Owin, Rago Foot, and MC Pinty.


The perfect project that represents the seemingly London sound is their quiescent 2014 EP, City Rivims MK 1. From start to finish, the eleven tracks are tranquil piercings on London’s imaginal anatomy. They protrude the blissful sounds of late night Jazz samples from the Coltrane era, added on with the eloquent dialect from Rago Foot and most prominently, the young emcee Jadasea. These tracks dissent with the conventional mechanisms of Trap music and instead derive from the influence of the older musicians such as Q-Tip and the late J Dilla. As this was, and now is, a typical approach for aspiring beat producers to pursue, Sub Luna City reworks this practice with different sonic pastels and colorings. This was released during the harrowing depths of Winter, where this project perfect encapsulates. The U.K. is typically a chilly vicinity with periods of tundra assaults.

The U.K. is still in its prime to prove its own worth in the sporadic reciprocation of Hip Hop’s power, many of its national neighbors felt its toiling attacks and felt the need to stoush back. Although Ireland has held its essential Hip Hop artists over the past few years, such as Rob Kelly, it’s still under its inchoate form of evolving into the leviathan that the U.K had become. One of the more noticeable talents from Ireland is Dublin-native musician Rejjie Snow. Snow initially studied the same accented format his counterparts from Sub Luna City followed, he eventually dwelled into differing sounds and genres, increasingly becoming more Irish than English. As the years flew by, Rejjie Snow’s sound matured in forms of familiar sounds from the nature of Dance music, Boom-Bap Hip Hop, and R&B, but added touches of surreal and shimmering instrumentation and his obviously patriotic voice. His 2018 album, Dear Annie, is the concoction of his established sounds. Dear Annie is a decently long project with twenty songs and a range of the same gloomy but tempered aura that London expelled.


Dear Annie Rejjie Snow

When you hear Rejjie Snow’s poetry and intonation, the scent of Dublin represents them. The thick Irish accent compounded by the glimmering chords and tempo-lead beats have the same familiarity as the U.S.’s lead in soul and R&B music but hold prerogative distinctions that resonate with Dublin’s northern winds and image of the large prairie fields the land is known to hold. The album cover itself is a nod to Ireland’s patriotic image of a red-headed girl in a white dress, standing in the middle of a lush garden with the color green illuminating the whole cover. With Rejjie Snow currently being one of the forefronts of Ireland’s latent exposure, it’ll be interesting to witness the nation’s grandiose explosion of reigning artists speaking their mind through their native sound.

In today’s saturated market of music, film, product, business, and services, every culture has to tap into the essence of every realm in order to stay relevant. The culture also has to contribute their own hand into the mix that distinguishes the patriotism that they exude to the world, in order to strive the death of the previous form and claim their significance over the demands of the world’s market. With the U.K becoming a stronghold of the evolution of Hip-Hop music and Ireland now discovering its own arcane sound, this generation will lead the future into the makings of its youthful creators and allow the Darwinian process of music to dictate who has the weakest and strongest touch in the movement.



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