The New Generation of U.K. Hip Hop Led by Dave
U.K. rap music, or as some may refer to it, Grime, is quickly growing in popularity around the world. British rap is not much different from American rap music. Although you may think British rap songs are about tea and the queen, they are actually about topics similar to those frequent in American rap music, such as the drive for fame and money, sports, and gang violence. The main differences between the U.K. and American rap scene are the language and the topics that are referred to based on the location of the artist within his or her country.
Drill, a kind of hip hop that started in 2010 in the south side of Chicago, is becoming one of the main versions of hip hop in the U.K. British drill took influences from Grime, Chicago drill, and life in dangerous neighborhoods in Brixton, an area on the south side of London. British drill skyrocketed in popularity when British artists began to collaborate with artists in Brooklyn, such as Pop Smoke.
U.K. drill artists have come to be known for their monotone voice and raw emotion, which serves as an example of what their life is like. Drill is also known for its more violent and profane lyrics. However, the rappers also use complex wordplay and varied literary techniques, like metaphors, to convey their ideas in their lyrics. The basis of drill music is its constant and heavy drumbeat in the back of all songs, helping to make them catchy. Some U.K. drill artists, like Headie One, focus more on melody, whereas Brooklyn artists focus on a punctuated beat.
Drill is not the only form of rap in the U.K., just as it isn’t in the United States. However, it has become the main focus of the new generation of rappers such as Headie One, Digga D, Central Cee, AJ Tracey, Skepta, Aitch, and many others.
One of the most exciting artists to come out of this up-and-coming music genre is South London native, Dave. David “Dave” Orobosa Omoregie is from Brixton and grew up in Streatham. As a rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and musician, he is a man of many talents. Dave, now 23 years old, became very popular in 2016 when Drake remixed his song “Wanna Know,” which later became the first song of Dave’s career on the music charts.
Dave’s first album, Psychodrama, was released in 2019 and immediately topped the charts. His second and most recent album, We’re All Alone in This Together, shot up to the top of the charts just like Psychodrama did.
In his songs, Dave raps almost as if he’s speaking. His songs are often about current issues and the struggles that many people face coming from communities similar to the one he came from. His flow and rhyming make his songs seem as if they are poems. Dave’s ability to incorporate such harsh, yet true, lyrics into his “softer” songs makes them resonate with the listener much much more.
He finds a way to rap about injustices and discrimination in a softer tone so the listener can listen closely. A great example of his rhyming and flow is in his song, “We’re All Alone,” when he says, “We all took the wrong turns in different streets, we all cried the same tears on different cheeks.” Dave constantly uses wordplay and gets the listener thinking of the meaning of his lyrics. In his song “Black,” Dave raps, “The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice. A kid dies, the blacker the killer, the sweeter the news.” This highlights his focus on prevalent topics in today’s society, while also exemplifying his unique style of wordplay. While it may seem like Dave’s songs are dense and serious, he makes many other catchy hits, some about soccer and some about just having a good time.
"We're all humans at the end of the day."
There are many other artists I could go on and on about. However, none of them catch my attention as much as Dave does. British tunes opened my eyes to a whole new world of music and added at least 200 more songs to my Spotify playlist. U.K. rap is a great change of pace for hip hop lovers -- it has all the fundamentals of rap music but puts a British spin on it. The British accent is just a bonus. Although it may feel like it’s out of your comfort zone, U.K. rap is definitely something to listen to. After all, as Dave said, “We’re all humans at the end of the day.”