We're nearing towards the first quarter of the year 2019 and from a music standpoint, we're just getting started.
But there are two albums (and one that's coming later this year) that have me wanting to do this pure "stream of thought" article. For nearly a year now I have been saying that "UK Hip-Hop" is making a resurgence. Before that, I said that we're entering a Golden Age in UK Rap and MOBO. (Music Of Black Origin) While I still stick by both statements. I felt it was necessary to give you all some examples.
I can make these proclamations all day. But it's useless if I don't lash you all some faces that I believe are leading the charge. I call them "The Four Best Pens". By pen I mean lyricism, penmanship, you get the idea. All four have been around for at least a couple of years and have caught my eye in those years. And one more small note before we begin... They're all aged under 26... Let's start with the youngest...
I, like a majority of his fan-base that don't live in his ends, first heard of Dave when the music video for "Question Time" went viral. For those that haven't seen or heard the rack. It's a 7-minute interrogatory onslaught directed at our Government and more specifically, our Prime Minister Theresa May. It was glorious, it was razor sharp and immediately caught my attention.
He then dropped his EP "Game Over" which had "Question Time" along with charting single "No Words" and "How I Met My Ex". The latter of which is another 7-minute epic, telling the story of, as the title says, how he met his ex. I remember vividly the moment I was listening to the track. I was in Uni, 3rd Year and making food in my flat. That song came on, I was listening as I was doing food, but I had to stop and listen intently because that track demanded it. I didn't leave the kitchen until the song finished. I. Was. Shook.
And that wouldn't be the last time he renders me in that state. His debut Album "PSYCHODRAMA" (Which, on the day that I write this, just charted No.1 in the UK.) got me in a state for over 12 hours. The fact that he's not even 20 in it and has not just a commanding voice, but an amazing penchant for storytelling is mad to me. The guy is only just beginning and already has an amazing EP & Album under his belt.Ocean Wisdom
The Golden Boy of UK Hip-Hop. With two Albums under his belt. Ocean Wisdom has a foundation STACKED with elite lyrics, elite flow and doing it all over Hip-Hop beats that would make any fan of the Old Skool nod in approval.
If you read my Top 10 Albums of 2018, (I mean... I HOPE you have???) you will know that this guy broke my brain when I listened to his 2nd Album "Wizville". Give him a metronome and he will spit bars no matter what the speed. He can change output speed that would make Eminem go "CHILL!"
From a "pure rapping" standpoint, by which I mean give him a beat and tell him to just drop bars, he's the best in the country. I firmly believe that. Ocean Wisdom got a pen game that makes gives me headaches with the amount of content, punchlines and witty bars he can stack into a track. Nobody has tested my listening stamina more than Ocean Wisdom.Loyle Carner
With his 2nd Studio Album on the way. I'm waiting with baited breath as to how where he's going to go next. But regardless of this, the niche Carner has carved for himself is admirable. His Mercury Prize nominated "Yesterday's Gone" was an open book. One of the most honest bodies of work you'll ever hear. No flexing over here. Just real feelings, real stories and honestly, it's so refreshing to listen to a male artist that shows vulnerability from the jump and writes true poetry from the heart.
He's firmly UK Hip-Hop but also takes inspiration from all corners of the music spectrum. From Gospel to Indie. He's one of those artists that doesn't mind bleeding his sound into different genres but also stay true. Where you have artists like Ocean Wisdom and Dave that have a distinct sound, Carner isn't afraid to add some different ingredients to the pot. Which is poetic since he dabbles in cooking as well.Little Simz
I've been a fan of Little Simz since her 2nd Studio Album "Stillness In Wonderland". But there's something that blows my mind about Simz & makes me wonder why she's so slept on. SHE'S BEEN DROPPING MUSIC SINCE 2010!!! She's 25 now! And it's not like her early EP's & Mixtapes are trash! Some of my favourite songs from Simz are from her earlier works!
Even though her sound has evolved since her earlier works, (and even between her albums!) her confidence in her lyricism and her ability is unmatched. And it gets better and better year on year. If you go listen to her earlier tapes & EP's, you will see the foundations of Simz being built. The thing I really want to know about the other three artists is how they got to where they are now. I know where Simz has been from a musical standpoint.
Space-like vibes, using a scene from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a sample, covering a little-known song from Kendrick Lamar's catalogue. She's been maturing on wax and it really goes to show that once you put 10 years in a craft, the fruits will appear around that time. At 25, she's only beginning to see those fruits and it's evident that she's only getting warmed up.
These are the "The Four Best Pens" in the UK. Sleep at your own risk...