Urban music in the UK has become more popular in the past year, bigger than ever before thanks to number 1 hits from UK R&B, Hip-Hop & Grime artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Leona Lewis, Estelle and M.I.A; as well as top-10-charting artists like Lemar, Craig David, Taio Cruz, Wiley and Tinchy Stryder. UK hip-hop may not be globally as popular as it's American counterpart and probably never will be, but over here in the UK we have some exceptionally good rappers who do make good quality, lyrically-rich music.
Just as Americans created hip-hop and rap, London-based MC's created their own genre of fast-paced mc'ing, called it "Grime" music and have never looked back since. The genre has grown ahead of UK hip-hop in terms of popularity with the younger generation because it was created by London's younger generation, and Grime music is now widely recognised and being accepted worldwide as it is a fresh, new sound. Grime artists are now regularly being nominated for music awards in the UK and the States. USA's very own BET Awards nominated 4 grime artists and only 1 hip-hop artist in the Best UK Hip-Hop category at its' 2008 award ceremony in Atlanta. That one hip-hop artist (South London's "Giggs") did however win the award and breathed a new lease of life into UK hip-hop. If you don't know who Giggs is, he's the rapper who took a Dr Dre beat ("here we go" by Stat Quo), freestyled on it and made the song the UK's biggest hip-hop record of 2008, to the point that hardly anybody in the UK even knows the original version! No offence my American pals.
Taking no credit away from The U.S, it's a fact that if your music can break America, it will become popular over the entire western world. A contributing factor to the success of UK's urban artists that they have been accepted in America. Such is the appreciation of UK urban music in the U.S that 4 of the biggest American rappers (Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I.) sampled a female British artist's voice for the chorus on their monster hit "Swagger Like Us". This sampling sent M.I.A's "Paper Planes" single to the top of the U.S charts.
The UK's very own R&B diva Leona Lewis' single "Run" has become the fastest-selling digital single of all time in the UK. Whereas Leona Lewis was nominated in several categories in the 2009 Grammy Awards, unfortunately not winning in any category, other female singers from the UK such as Estelle, Duffy and Adele took home a Grammy award each at the ceremony in Los Angeles, proving that the UK's urban artists have finally gained star-status.
Jerry the HuMan