UK rappers have always had something new to offer the British rap scene.
Whether the pioneers like Wiley showing their longevity in the British rap game or contemporary stars like Unknown T revealing new tricks, there’s always something to admire about the vibrant hip-hop scene.
So, without wasting time, let’s look at the 30 best UK rappers who have left their mark on the British music scene.
From Stormzy to Giggs, Little Simz, and AJ Tracey, we promise it doesn’t get any better than this.
If you asked ten people to name their favorite UK rapper, many would say Stormzy.
And that shows just how popular the aggressive “Vossi Bop” rapper has become.
Stormzy rose to fame in 2014 with his “Shut Up” single, initially a freestyle on his YouTube channel.
His “Vossi Bop” single from his Heavy Is the Head album became his first #1 hit single in the UK.
In November 2022, Stormzy’s “Mel Made Me Do It” became the talk of the town, featuring famous actors, artists, and sports personalities like Jose Mourinho and Usain Bolt.
2. AJ Tracey
AJ Tracey is a West London rapper known for his natural charm and versatility.
The ascent of the West London rapper has been meteoric, with hits such as “Wifey Riddim,” “Packages,” and “Spirit Bomb.”
Tracey has recorded enviable chart success with his combination of trap, UK rap, grime, and garage.
The UK rapper had his massive breakthrough in 2018 with his “Butterflies” single, featuring fellow British rapper, Not3s.
His 2019 eponymous debut album peaked at #3 on the UK Albums Chart, featuring one of his most successful singles, “Ladbroke Grove,” single.
3. Little Simz
Little Simz is one of the best female British rappers to have shaped the UK rap industry.
Born in Islington, London, in 1994, the British-Nigerian rapper rose to fame with her first three studio albums; A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons (2015), Stillness in Wonderland (2016), and Grey Area (2019).
Simbi has performed at Hackney Empire, the House of Lords, and iluvlive, and her longevity in the music industry shouldn’t be underrated.
She’s also remembered for headlining the 76th British Academy Awards ceremony with her single, “Heart On Fire.”
See also: Best Female Rappers of All Time
From clever lyrics to a creatively written autobiography, Kano has become one of the best UK rappers in recent years.
He’s considered an instrumental figure in spreading grime music, even postponing his football career to entertain his fans with his flawless lyricism.
Debuting in 2004 with his “P’s & Q’s” single, Kano has carved out a niche in the UK rap scene, setting himself apart while laying the foundation for fellow UK rappers.
He’s tried acting, starring in the Top Boy film.
Some of his best hits include “Boys Love Girls,” “Ps and Qs,” and “Signs In Life.”
Skepta’s admirable music career has made him one of the best UK rappers ever.
Starting his career as a DJ in 2003, the rapper produced memorable grime instrumentals before becoming an MC and an undisputed king of grime music.
Considered a key figure in the grime genre, Skepta has earned three Brit Award nominations for contributing to UK rap music.
6. Dizzee Rascal
Dylan Kwabena Mills, commonly known as Dizzee Rascal, is a UK MC and rapper better known as the “pioneer of grime music.”
He released his debut album, Boy in da Corner, in 2003, winning the Mercury Prize the same year.
His follow-up studio albums Showtime, Maths + English, and Tongue n’ Cheek were critically acclaimed and certified platinum.
Dizzee has had 5 UK #1 songs, including “Dirtee Disco,” “Shout,” “Holiday,” “Bonkers,” and “Dance wiv Me.”
A celebrated UK rapper, Dizzee didn’t have the best childhood experiences, losing his dad at a young age.
He was raised by a single mother and often changed schools because of his violent behavior.
In past interviews, Rascal recalls “stealing cars, fighting with teachers, and robbing pizza delivery men.”
He got the “Rascal” nickname during the same period.
He’s mentioned rapper Wiley (he calls him his mentor) as the biggest influence.
Ghetts made a name for himself as a member of the NASTY Crew.
While he’s regarded as one of the most prolific British rappers of his generation, one could argue Ghett’s entire career is based on his debut album, Conflict of Interest, featuring other big-name artists like Stormzy, Dave, and Pa Salieu.
His work rate has deservedly earned him a place in British music history.
And he’s fondly recognized with hits such as “Top 3 Selected,” “Artillery,” and “Legends Don’t Die.”
The funny thing about Ghetts is that he’s never lost his natural touch, class, and lyricism in the competitive UK rap scene.
And years after his debut, he’s still the lyrical king and the prolific UK rapper who’s only getting better and better.
Talk about aging like fine wine.
Richard Kyalea Cowi Jr. MBE, or Wiley, will have a special place when British music history is written.
He’s often considered the “Godfather of Grime” and one of the most influential figures in the British rap industry.
Wiley had his first taste of UK music as part of the Pay As U Go crew, releasing the memorable hit single “Champagne Dance” alongside the group members.
He’s pioneered grime music while focusing on his solo career, releasing hits such as “Never Be Your Woman,” “Heatwave,” and “Wearing My Rolex.”
Wiley’s versatility and status in the British music industry earned him an MBE at the 2018 New Year Honours for his selfless contributions to UK music.
Nathaniel Thompson, or Giggs, has been active in the British rap scene since 2005.
He released his first studio album (Walk in da Park) in 2008 and a follow-up album, Let Em Ave, a year later.
Giggs started his career as a Peckham-based DJ, playing dancehall, reggae, and raga music thanks to his Caribbean roots.
He launched his radio station (Spare No-One FM) in the early 2000s and got the Giggs name from his childhood moniker, Giggler.
10. Slick Rick
Slick Rick is an American-English rapper who rose to fame as part of the Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew.
Their first songs as a musical group include “La Di Da Di” and “The Show.”
Slick Rick signed for Def Jam Records in 1986, becoming the third artist to do so.
He released four studio albums throughout his career, including The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, The Ruler’s Back, Behind Bars, and The Art of Storytelling.
Many artists have sampled his songs, from Eminem to Miley Cyrus, Nas, and Kanye West.
Born and raised in Mitcham, Slick and his parents moved to the USA in 1976.
He lost his right eye from a glass accident in childhood,
11. Plan B
Benjamin Paul Ballace-Drew, commonly known as Paul B, is one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the best UK rappers.
Paul rose to prominence with his Who Needs Actions When You Got Words (2006) album.
His follow-up album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks (2010), reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart.
Plan B has also excelled in his acting career, appearing in Adulthood (2008), Harry Brown (2009), and The Sweeney (2012) films.
Some of his biggest hits include “She Said,” “Stay Too Long,” and “Candy.”
12. Big Shaq
Not many people have had as much influence on the British rap industry as Michael Dapaah, best known as Big Shaq.
Born in Croydon, South London, Michael pursued film, acting, and theatre at Brunel University before taking another course at the National Youth Theatre.
He first emerged through appearances in the popular sitcom, Meet the Adebanjos.
In 2017, he collaborated with Mary Brown, a longtime friend, to launch Somewhere In London, a mockumentary series.
Dapaah attracted public attention after appearing in BBC 1Xtra’s “Fire in the Booth.”
13. Ms. Dynamite
Ms. Dynamite, originally Lady Dynamite, is one of the most outstanding rappers from the UK.
She stood out with the “Booo!” hit song that got massive airplay on London radio stations.
Starting her career at the RAW FM radio station, Richard Forbes discovered the British rapper at a London club.
Her talent propelled her to the limelight, with multiple British labels battling for her signature.
The talented singer finally signed with Polydor Records, where producer Salaam Remi helped shape her career.
Ms. Dynamite’s debut album, A Little Deeper, featured hits like “Dy-Na-Mi-Tee” and “It Takes More.”
In 2002, she received the enviable Mercury Music Prize for her debut album.
She’s fondly remembered for performing at the 2002 Commonwealth Games at the Etihad Stadium.
14. Rodney P (London Posse)
Rodney P rose to prominence in the 1980s through the British hip-hop scene.
He began his career as part of London Posse, a hip-hop group that brought a new style to the UK rap game.
After London Posse broke up, Rodney set up his record label, Riddim Killa, releasing hit singles such as “Riddim Killa” and “Big Tings.”
The UK rapper has collaborated with reputable artists like Roots Manuva, Terri Walker, Blak Twang, and MJ Cole throughout his music career.
Lowkey is one of those names that never misses in any list of the best UK rappers.
He became famous with his mix tapes, rising to stardom even before turning 18.
Lowkey took a long hiatus before reappearing in 2008 on BBC Radio, concerts, and festivals.
This paved the way for her debut album, Dear Listener (2008), before releasing his follow-up album, Soundtrack to the Struggle, in 2011.
After another hiatus, Lowkey returned with a series of hit singles from 2016-2018 in the buildup to his 3rd album, Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 (2019).
Besides his music career, Lowkey is known for his activism and fight against Zionism.
He’s fundraised for the oppressed Palestinian refugees and performed other humanitarian missions.
16. Unknown T
Talk about a star from the very beginning.
Born Daniel Lena to Ugandan parents, Unknown T is a British rapper with a distinctive voice that continues to captivate his fans.
He first turned heads when he released his 2018 banger, “Homerton B,” peaking at #48 on the UK Singles chart.
His 2020 album, Rise Above Hate, only cemented his popularity in the UK drill scene, peaking at #14 on the UK Albums chart.
His 2021 mix tape, Adolescence, with guest appearances from Potter Payper, Nafe Smallz, and Digga D, only confirmed him as one of the best UK rappers.
17. Lancey Foux
Lancey Foux might not be the most popular name on this list, but his music has earned him a place in the UK rap scene.
Born in London in 1995 to parents of Ugandan descent, he started his career as a freestyling artist on YouTube.
He released his Pink debut album and “About It” hit song the same year.
After thriving on Soundcloud, Lancey collaborated with producer Nyge for a new studio album titled the First Day at Nursery.
He borrows from American trap music, and the danceable tunes make him one of the most exciting young UK rappers.
Mist launched his music career in 2015, releasing freestyles through the P110 YouTube channel.
He released his debut EP, M I S to the T, in 2016.
In 2018, Mist released his 2nd EP, Diamond in the Dirt, peaking at #4 on the UK Albums chart.
Three singles from the 2nd EP charted on the UK Singles Chart, including “Wish Me Well,” “Game Changer,” and “On It.”
19. Nadia Rose
It’s impossible to mention the best UK female rappers without including Nadia Rose.
The Croydon rapper pursued Music and Music Management course at the university and has since written her name on the history books.
She released her debut EP, Highly Flammable, on the backdrop of other successful hit singles, including “BOOM,” “DFWT,” and “Station.”
The little-known secret about Rose is that she’s Stormzy’s cousin.
Kingslee James Daley, or simply Akala, is many people’s favorite UK rapper because he does it like nobody else.
The London-based artist is praised for his intelligence and strong political message.
Akala is the younger brother of Ms. Dynamite and boasts a distinctive style of tackling societal issues.
He received the Best Hip Hop Act at the 2006 MOBO Awards and topped the charts as one of the most influential Black people in the UK.
Daley’s debut album, It’s Not a Rumour, features some of his most successful singles, including the highly acclaimed “Shakespeare.”
Akala has headlined multiple UK festivals, including Wireless, Reading and Leeds Festivals, V Festivals, and Parklife.
The rapper leads a generation of independent thinkers with his books about race and class oppression in the UK, personal interests, and hip-hop for kids.
The next artist on this list is one of the best UK rappers from 2015.
Born Jason Andre Juami, Jay1 is a British rapper from Coventry.
He boasts Congolese ancestry and began his musical journey in 2016 after relocating to Coventry from Southgate.
He’s best known for his 2019 hit single “Your Mrs.”
Few would have predicted that Dave would become one of the best UK rappers when he released his debut EP (Six Paths) in 2016.
But today, he’s become a mainstay name in the British rap scene and one of the best-selling UK rappers of this generation.
The Brixton-born rapper stands out with his creative lyricism that always tackles societal issues.
He recently scored highly with his chart-topping debut album, Psychodrama.
His singles are just as excellent, with 8 Top 10 songs, including the groundbreaking “Funky Friday” featuring Fredo.
Dave has cemented his name as one of the best UK rappers today with his recent We’re All Alone in This Together album.
Oh! He’s also collaborated with established rappers, including AJ Tracey and the Grammy-winning Canadian rapper Drake.
M24 launched his music career in 2016, releasing his first single, “Do It & Crash,” a year later and his debut mixtape (Drip N Drill) in 2020.
His 2019 single, “We Don’t Dance,” featuring Stickz, garnered positive reviews from music critics.
The song also pushed M24 to nationwide fame, opening the doors to high-profile collaborations with major UK artists.
One of the negatives of the rapper’s sparkling music career is his 2021 arrest following a knife incident that landed him a 6-month prison sentence.
24. Ms. Banks
Here’s another female English rapper to add to your playlist.
Ms. Banks is a talented UK rapper from Southeast London, loved for her style and lyrical prowess.
She became famous after appearing on BBC 1Xtra’s Fire In The Booth and has become one of the best UK rappers.
Ms. Banks has always mentioned Nicki Minaj as her role model.
Loski is a Kennington rapper, songwriter, and MC who’s only become better and better over the years.
He began his journey in the UK hip-hop scene in 2012 and is now regarded as one of the new faces of the UK drill.
From the cheeky punch lines to unique flows, Loski’s style has stood the test of time, confirming his place as one of the best UK rappers.
Unfortunately, the “Hazards 2.0” singer will spend seven years in prison after pleading guilty to firearm possession charges in early 2023.
A rapper is only as good as his songs.
But sometimes, the best rappers don’t need a string of hit singles to secure their place in the history books.
That description fits Slowthai, a Northampton-born rapper who rose to prominence in 2019 with his magical instrumentals and powerful lyrics.
Slowthai only needed two studio albums to secure a place in the UK rap scene, getting nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2019 for his Nothing Great About Britain record.
The rapper’s lyrics often address political issues, such as Theresa May’s rule as UK Prime Minister and Brexit.
27. Bugzy Malone
If there’s one rapper who’s brought Manchester’s grime music scene to the limelight, it has to be Aaron Davies, commonly known as Bugzy Malone.
He’s been a revelation in the UK music scene, with his King of the North album peaking at #4 on the UK Albums chart.
Like many UK rappers, Malone began his career with mixtapes, releasing SwaggaMan in 2010 before embarking on a free styling career on the KODH TV YouTube channel.
His second mixtape, Why So Serious, featured the “Hip Hop Heavy Metal” single, a successful hit with over 1M YouTube views.
He cites Tupac Shakur as his biggest influence.
Aitch’s meteoric rise in the UK music scene is nothing but inspiring.
His combination of boyish charm and incredible flows has propelled him to the top of British hip-hop music.
And today, everyone marvels at his pure talent and dedication.
Aitch only rose to fame in 2017, with his witty lyrics and baby-faced demeanor endearing him to a legion of hip-hop fans.
With 14 Top 40 singles, he’s quickly become a mainstay in the UK rap scene.
Not to mention his 2 Top 10 EPs reaching the Official Albums Chart.
Let’s just call him a massively talented singer who deserves a place in any list of the best UK rappers today.
29. Russ Millions
Russ Millions is credited with putting the first UK drill song on the Top 10 of the UK Singles chart.
That was the “Gun Lean” single, released in 2018 and peaking at #9 on the charts.
Russ’s famous dance in the hit song became an instant craze, copied by everybody, including a certain Jesse Lingard.
The rapper’s follow-up single, “Keisha & Becky,” was released in 2019, peaking at #7 on the UK Singles chart.
He’s collaborated with big-name artists like Pressa, Tion Wayne, and Digga D.
And some of his best songs include “Mr. Sheeen,” “Splash,” and “Body.”
30. Lady Leshurr
Everybody remembers her from her Queen’s Speech freestyles.
Melesha Katrina O’Garro showed her love for music at only 6.
At 14, she released her first-ever mixtape.
She took a lot of inspiration from her mum, doing little raps as a teenager before launching an acting career in the 2009 1 Day film.
She’s won multiple accolades, including a MOBO Award for Best Female Act (2016), Best Rap/Grime Act (2019), and Best Solo Female (2020).
In 2020, she earned a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his contributions to music and charity.
Some of Leshurr’s best songs include “Black Panther,” “OMW,” and “Queen’s Speech 4.”
Best UK Rappers – Final Thoughts
You can debate as much as you want about the best British rap songs.
But one thing is certain; the UK rap scene isn’t short of talented rappers who have left a lasting impression on music lovers.
Over the years, the list of the best UK rappers has only become better, with modern-day stars like Litle Simz joining the rap game.
The UK rap industry is diverse, with artists from as early as the 1980s showing their longevity in a rapidly evolving music industry as new stars grab everyone’s attention with their unique style, lyricism, and fashion sense.
When you have rappers as good as Stormzy, pure talents like Akala, and consistent guys like Bugzy Malone headlining the local concerts, your country is just as good as any music powerhouse.
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